SEIU 888 worked with its members at the Emerson Staff Union to achieve significant gains in their new contract.
Of particular significance, the Emerson Staff Union achieved an annual cost-of-living-adjustment that is tied to the greater Boston consumer price index with a range of 2-5%. Despite initial strong objection by the college, this major win secured a benefit parity with faculty. Union members took to Instagram to share compelling reasons why the cost-of-living-adjustments were so needed, many citing the recent drastic increases in necessities due to inflation.
“When we started negotiations, the college didn’t want to pay us any cost adjustments,” said John Albert, Vice Chair of the Emerson College Chapter and a member of the negotiating committee. “We wanted parity with faculty, so that our members had a chance to maintain their quality of life with the current economic situation. The wins in this contract are a huge step in the right direction.”
Union members will see a 2022 wage increase of 2.5% which will be applied retroactively to January 1, as well as cash bonuses in the last three years of a four-year contract. There will also be an accelerated process for bringing members’ pay rates into alignment with the new, higher, pay grades based on a compensation study that revealed staff were largely underpaid when compared to peer institutions. These market adjustments are in addition to cost-of-living-adjustments.
Other benefits in the new contract include the addition of a plus-one plan health insurance option, increased access to the sick bank, compensatory time changes, increased commuter benefits, and an early retirement option. Further, the College committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion training, a more robust Joint Labor Management Committee, creation of a joint staffing committee to review staffing concerns, and increased ability for bargaining unit members to teach.
In addition to the many gains achieved, there were a number of benefits that did not change but are now codified in the contract and no longer subject to unilateral change at management’s discretion.
Though union members sought stronger concessions regarding the educational levels required for certain positions, the overall sentiment was one of relief at the conclusion of a long-fought process.