FAMU and employees coming to an agreement on wage bargaining

By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 9, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Back in March, AFSCME, FAMU's union which represents all non-teaching staff, was fighting for wage increases with the university. Monday morning, the organization came to terms with the university.

The issue was back wages for the 2018-2019 school year, and employees asking for future increases in pay, and revisions to future contracts.

The university agreed to pay a bonus to all employees involved in the agreement for the previous school year. But the union, still asking for a salary increase and a long-term contract.

Andre Crumity, the AFSCME Union President for Chapter 3343, left the morning meeting, proud of what they had accomplished, "Hopefully this will kind of mend some bridges amongst the university and it's employees."

Since April of 2018, he shares the bargaining process has been a long and difficult one, "My hopeful goal is not to let it draw out like it did."

He is talking about the contract non-teaching staff are under, which dates back to 2013. The union is working to fight for permanent wage increases, as well as a new contract updated contract, that would have to be renewed every three years.

Jason Finley, the Vice President of the union chapter, mentions, "It is one of them things that it stretched out and we are going back and forth, but we did bargain in good faith and today was a successful turnout."

Crumity says the result of the negotiation is all 437 employees in the bargaining agreement will be given a bonus of $2,431 only for the past school year.

Finley says although this is a strong stride, there is still much to be done, "Our hope is to have salary increase added to the base salary for future negotiations, not just bonuses because there are people that just need more to survive, because they do have families just like myself."

He furthers, "We do have employees that are making 25,000 and less and which is in a sense poverty wages."

Finley expresses that it is a step in the right direction, but his co-workers deserve more, "The ones who making low salary are the have and have nots. They really feel that way and they really contribute to this campus to make this campus run like a well oiled machine."

Crumity shares that they will be taking back to the drawing table to come up with new contracts and wages for the 2019-2020 school year, "We are trying to work together and do what's best not only for what's best for employees but also what is best for FAMU."

AFSCME is now looking forward to the future.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University released a statement regarding the negotiations:

FAMU and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents University Support Personnel  
System employees have reached a tentative agreement on the wage article following negotiations Monday morning.  

“Based on the clarification of the misunderstanding between FAMU and AFSCME’s negotiator, the parties have reached an agreement on the wage article,” said Robert Larkin, the labor lawyer presenting FAMU. 

The university offered a nonrecurring wage increase. 

The proposed agreement will be sent to the union’s members for ratification. If it is ratified, FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., will ask the Board of Trustees to approve the agreement at its September 19 meeting. 

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