By Veronique George, FAMU News
Representatives from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents more than 450 University Support Personnel System (USPS) employees, have agreed to put their impasse hearing on hold and return to the bargaining table on September 9, 2019.
At the September 9 session, the parties will negotiate over the union’s proposal for a $2,500 raise to the employees’ base salary.
“We have clarified some misunderstandings,” Robert Larkin, a labor lawyer representing FAMU, said at the end of the three-hour session in the Foote-Hilyer Administration Center on Monday. “This allows both parties to come back to the negotiation table with a better appreciation of our respective positions.”
Mark Jordan, regional coordinator for ASFCME Florida, said by staying the impasse, “The two parties are going to get together to see if we can agree on the issue that caused the impasse.”
AFSCME represents groundskeepers, secretaries, custodians, and office assistants. University officials stated that the union’s proposal for an increase of $2,500 to be added to the base of each USPS employee’s salary would cost the University approximately $1.56 million annually in salaries. That does not include benefits or the cost of paying non-USPS employees who would demand similar increases.
If both sides reach an agreement on September 9, then the proposal would be sent to the union’s members for a vote. If they ratify it, FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., would ask the Board of Trustees to approve the agreement at its September 19 meeting.
“We appreciate the work of our faculty and staff at the University. We will do everything we can to ensure they are in an environment that demonstrates that,” said Robinson, who is not part of the University’s negotiating team. “We are committed to respecting and upholding the collective bargaining process. “
If there is no agreement, the two sides would resume the impasse hearing presided over by Special Magistrate Arbitrator Adrienne Davis Trott of Jacksonville.
“The two parties always do a better job of reaching an agreement than a third party,” Trott said.