UAW local 2178 ratifies contract

Hannah Fermanich

NMU’s chapter of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 2178 ratified their new labor contract with the university after three days of negotiations.

UAW Local 2178’s previous contract was set to expire on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 after being in effect for the last three years.

Negotiations for a new contract began on Monday, Sept. 17 and culminated on Thursday, Sept. 20 with a tentative agreement that was sent out to union members for a vote.

“They were reasonable and we were reasonable so we got through it quick,” said Jon Barch, president of UAW Local 2178. “I think we did really good.”

The tentative contract was sent out to union members on Friday, Sept. 21. They had up until Wednesday, Sept. 26 to look over the document before casting their votes.

A presentation explaining the contract was given on Wednesday, Sept. 26 to union members with the vote coming to a close the following day at 2 p.m.

The votes were tallied and the contract was ratified with a vote of 106 in favor and six against.

The next step forward is for NMU’s Board of Trustees to meet to formally vote on the contract.

They have been kept up to date on the negotiation process of this contract and the details involved.

“The NMU Board of Trustees will be working on finding a time to hold a special teleconference meeting when they can formally vote on the contract,” said Cindy Paavola, NMU director of Communications and Marketing.

If approved by the Board of Trustees, this contract will be in effect from 2012 until 2015.

In the meantime, some parts of the contract are already in the works of being implemented.

“I have confirmed with the human resources office that it is ready to incorporate the new pay rates, having prepared under the assumption that the ratified agreement is agreed upon by both sides and ready for the formal board approval when it takes place,” Paavola said.

This part of the contract is being implemented now to coincide with the start of a new pay period that would be covered under the new contract once it is officially passed.

“Neither side got everything that they wanted,” Barch said. “Both sides were reasonable and that’s why it happened quickly and nearly everyone is satisfied.”

The UAW Local 2178 is the union on campus that represents the administrative professionals employed at Northern.

The union works as a mediator between the university’s administration and the employees, not only with establishing labor contracts.

They help resolve issues between the employees through mediation with the administration and also by helping the administration with disciplining employees.

While the UAW Local 2178 was able to ratify a new labor contract within a few days, the other UAW group on campus, Local 1950 is still in the negotiation process after a year and a half of working with the administration to create a contract that is agreeable to both sides.

UAW Local 1950 represents the secretaries and clerks employed at Northern. They are scheduled for another mediation meeting on Monday, Oct. 15, according to Michelle Kimball, president of the UAW Local 1950.