Kenyon and two unions representing workers in the Maintenance Department have agreed on new contracts that provide wage increases and labor stability for three years.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2794 (IAM), representing 57 custodians, grounds keepers, and rovers, and the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Local 712 (UE), representing 24 trades workers and helpers, this week approved contracts that deliver raises to most of their members of 2.75 percent in each of the next two fiscal years and 2.5 percent for fiscal year 2016-17.
“The College appreciates the good work being done by our Maintenance Division employees, and I’m pleased that members of our union locals have accepted a fair and generous contract offer,” President Sean Decatur said. “Our maintenance workers help keep the College running well, and we’re looking forward to continued improvements in division operations.”
Custodian Linda Beck, the IAM local president, and carpenter Robert Smith, the UE local president, expressed satisfaction with the agreements.
“It’s a give-and-take game, and I think both sides gave,” Beck said. “We gave it our best, and I think our membership thinks we did a good job. It’s a fair contract. With everything that has happened over the last couple of years, we all worked together,” she said. “I have seen big improvements.”
The IAM local voted unanimously in favor of the contract.
“The atmosphere was better than it has been in the past,” Smith said. “We still had some challenges. It’s never a whole lot of fun negotiating a contract. I’m glad to have it behind us.” Members of the local voted twenty-one to one in favor of the deal. “The vote speaks for itself,” Smith said. “We got an agreement that we think is fair.”
In March 2013, the unions signed memorandums of understanding, which were a component of the Middle Path Partnership proposal and in which the College and unions agreed to participate in the High Performance Work Partnership program with a goal of shared decision-making and improved operations and management systems.
Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman praised the “spirit of partnership” that has developed over the last year. “Having the contract negotiations behind us will allow the maintenance team to focus on the real work of continued improvement and efficiency without the worry of contract terms,” Kohlman said. “This is a very positive step for the growth of the partnership.”
The memorandums also created a separate, progressive pay scale for union employees hired after July 1, 2013. Those new employees earn a wage that is below what is paid to veteran union members. Seven members of the IAM and three in the UE have been hired since then, and they receive annual wage increases of between 7 and 9.5 percent until they gain equal footing with veteran employees over a number of years.