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Raising Wages For ‘All’ Employees – New Five-Year Contract For UAW Local 2300-Represented Workers At Cornell University ‘Lifts Up’ Families Across Southern Tier

Local 2300 President Jason David Tells WNYLaborToday.com: “It’s ‘Very Important.’ Cornell University Is The Area’s ‘Largest’ Employer And We ‘Take Pride’ In Raising Wages Here, Which Helps ‘Everyone’ In This County And In Our Surrounding Counties.”

Published Monday, October 31, 2016
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell

(ITHACA, NEW YORK) – What shouldn’t be lost on a recently-negotiated five-year contract agreement for 1,100 United Auto Workers (UAW)-represented Employees at Cornell University in Ithaca is that it not only positively impacts those Union Workers, but helps raise wages for Non-Union Workers in Tompkins County and in the surrounding Southern Tier counties, Local 2300 President Jason David tells WNYLaborToday.com.

“It’s ‘very important’ for Non-Unionized Workers at Cornell and across the region to ‘remember,’” David told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper today (Monday, October 31st) in a telephone interview, “Cornell University is the ‘largest employer’ (in Tompkins County) and the UAW takes ‘great pride’ in the fact that ‘when we raise wages here,’ we ‘not only help our Members, but everyone in this county and our surrounding counties’ – including many families – in ‘raising’ wages and the overall economy.”

Elevating talk of a Strike by UAW Members at Cornell - who work in several departments, including grounds-keeping, in the dining hall, as custodians, and in athletics, mail services and in the university’s veterinarian school, helped bring about a new agreement at the end of August that replaced an old four-year pact that had expired on July 1st.  

The start of the new semester with students returning to campus also sped up negotiations, David told WNYLaborToday.com.

“The ‘serious possibility’ and talk of a Strike, and with our students coming back to campus at the end of August, ‘really got’ (talks moving forward),’” he said. “For the most part, our Members are ‘pleased.’  A number were ‘so pumped up’ (over the possibility of going out on Strike) that ‘they thought we could have gotten more.’  But the vast majority were ‘pleased,’ so much so that they voted to approve the contract (by a margin of 68% to 32% on August 16th).”

The new agreement calls for a wage increase of 14.5% over the life of the deal, David said, which is “far more” when compared to what Non-Union Employees have received, which was a wage increase of about 1% per year.  “We ‘more than doubled’ that amount,” he said.

In regards to health care, Cornell’s UAW Employees are tied in to the university’s health care plans, which David said are “mutually beneficial” and “top notch.”  And depending which plan they’re on, Union Members are contributing as little as 10% or as much as 20%, he said.

In terms of their pension - either under a New York State Retirement Program or a Cornell Endowment Program, UAW-represented Cornell Workers’ contributions under the state program are matched, while Cornell puts up 10% under the endowment program, David said.

In addition, UAW Leadership said they were extremely happy in negotiating “a lot of gains in our sub-contracts (which specifically deal with individual departments). 

“For example, we negotiated the right for mediation when it comes to the university wanting to outsource (jobs).  Now, we can unilaterally say there ‘must be’ mediation (when that wasn’t the case in the past),” David said.

David, who is in his first year of presidency of Local 2300, credited the Union’s 13-Member Bargaining Team, as well as UAW International Representative Mark Barbee, in helping negotiate the new five-year agreement at Cornell. 

He also pointed to what he described as “champions’ – Members who are involved in each Cornell department who “have a firm grasp as to what is going on.” 

“That’s ‘who’ we turn to,” he said, “which is ‘extremely’ beneficial.’  If you ‘don’t have people like that, who know their own areas, we wouldn’t have gotten what we bargained.’”

Besides the Cornell, UAW Local 2300 represents 200 Workers more across Tompkins County, including Members employed by Tompkins County Area Transit (TCAT), at the Bolton Point Water Filtration Plan, across the Finger Lakes Library System, at the Tompkins County Public Library (both Professional and Support Staff), and at the Ithaca Housing Authority.

“We ‘really do run the gamut,’” David said.

 

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