Members of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 1950 are feeling the toll of facing over a year and a half of contract negotiations with the administration at NMU.
UAW Local 1950 represents the secretaries and clerks that work here on campus. They are often the first people that a student will meet and work with here at Northern. Michelle Kimball, president of Local 1950, has seen a drop in morale amongst members within the group.
“We’re pretty beaten down right now,” Kimball said. “We feel very unappreciated and undervalued from the administration. But fortunately, the people we actually work for appreciate our efforts.”
According to Kimball, part of the problem that Local 1950 members are facing is that they feel that the administration doesn’t think that members of the group are worth trying to bridge the gap between their wages and the rise in health insurance costs put in place through the university.
“I definitely feel that our morale is as low as I’ve ever seen it,” Kimball said.
UAW members such as Jennie Gentile, senior secretary for Counseling and Consultation Services, are feeling the impact of having an health care costs increase without a pay raise to close the gap.
“The lack of increase in pay over 10 years of employment has convinced me that retiring from NMU might not be a reality,” Gentile said. “I started considering about how I can make a difference to help protect my family. I work two jobs and will continue to further my education.”
Tracy VanAbel, principal secretary of the education department, feels that the administration aren’t showing the members of their union the respect that they deserve.
“It’s hard because you want to give the best to your students,” VanAbel said. “It’s hard when you know the administration doesn’t feel the same way about us.”
According to Kimball, some members have asked her about how to move to another union on campus due to the lack of progress in the negotiations for this contract. Despite this, Kimball is still trying to keep up morale amongst members. Students and faculty are asked to wear black shirts on Tuesdays to support the secretaries and clerks on campus.
UAW Local 1950 recently went to mediation with the university, but no ground was gained in the process. They currently do not have another session scheduled.