Union ratifies new contract



Kelsii Kyto

Northern Michigan University’s UAW 2178 union has ratified a new three-year contract that, if approved by the Board of Trustees, will be in effect from now until Sept.
30, 2021.

The contract is for administrative professionals at NMU, which includes staff rather than faculty positions, said Rhea Dever, assistant vice president of human resources and lead negotiator from the contract negotiating team. Roughly 200 employees will be under the contract. This contract is not substantially different from other contracts, Dever said.

“When you have a standard collective bargaining agreement that has been working pretty well for both parties, and you don’t have a lot of changes that you’re expecting or wanting, then you can typically get through it in a few days,” she added.

Each article of the collective bargaining deals with different aspects of employment, Dever said, with the hardest articles being wages and benefits. Those discussions are saved for the very end, because they are more complex and lengthy, Dever added.

The tentative wage increase for the first year under the contract is a 2 percent increase from base salary, paired with a one-time payment of $500 and the second and third year will also come with a 2 percent wage increase.

“We come to the table with both sides with what they’d like to see changed and what we’d like to see changed, and there weren’t significant differences with what we were coming to the table with to actually change,” Dever said.

These collective bargaining agreements give employers a relationship with their employees, and employees are able to work more successfully, Dever said, especially with how many unions are on NMU’s campus.

“[Administrative professionals] add tremendous value to our institution with the work they do every day,” Dever said. “It’s important from NMU’s standpoint that we have a collective bargaining agreement in place, that everyone feels it was a good agreement and we can move forward from here for the next few years.”