Dear RFFU colleagues,
On July 29, the Delegate Assembly of the PSC voted to recommend the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the recently bargained RF Field Units contract to the RF Filed Units membership for ratification.
This is the first completely renegotiated contract in the history of the units, since the two previous contracts were extensions of the original. As your elected representatives and full participants in the bargaining process, we present this MOA to you with confidence that the demands were thoroughly prepared, researched, and bargained.
The proposed 3-year contract (July 1 2021-June 30 2024) includes:
- A breakthrough equity increase of 60 cents/hour per year for those earning less than $20/hour. This works out to 3-4% per year, the percent increase being the highest for the lowest-paid workers. This was a strategy pivot after the RF informed us that they cannot implement a wage floor because some of their grantors (including the city) stipulate minimum wage for certain positions. A letter signed by 100 members was necessary to achieve this gain.
- Maintenance of the 2% annual increases for those earning more than $20/hour. This is the same rate as previous contracts. Our initial demand was 4%. We had to work very hard to get management back up to 2%.
- Dental insurance and flexible spending and dependent care accounts for Part-Time A and concurrent Part-Time B employees (starting with the fall 2021 open enrollment period, effective January 2022).
- Language allowing full-time employees to request alternative schedules, including other than 7-hour days and other than 5-day weeks, not to be arbitrarily denied.
- Language permitting part-time employees to request an alternative schedule to cover unpaid holidays and weather days, not to be arbitrarily denied, or to take such days without pay if so desired. While we were not able to achieve our demand for paid holidays and weather days for all, this language is intended to help part-timers avoid being forced to work make-up schedules that cost them more in childcare than they earn for the shift, a problem identified by members.
- The creation of a joint PSC-RF working group to examine procedures around the reporting of and response to bullying. The RF was not willing to adopt the anti-bullying language proposed by the bargaining team, but agreed after much debate that changes are needed, and that effective reporting and response procedures can only be worked out with both sides at the table.
- RF provision of dues/agency fee authorization forms to new hires and provision of unit member data to the PSC on a monthly basis, instead of quarterly. While the RF would not agree to also collect authorization forms, this change will allow the organizers to reach potential members much earlier and thus to build power.
Three changes were necessary to achieve these gains. Each was due to RF’s desire that the structures on the organized and unrepresented campuses be the same.
- An increase in the employee contribution to health insurance from 19% to 21%. This has been a key demand for the Research Foundation in past contract cycles, and it has always been clear that at some point we would have to agree if we were to make other gains. The 19% was preserved only because previous contracts were contract extensions, not renegotiations. The estimated additional expense for members ranges from $120-$600 per calendar year, depending on the level and type of coverage (individual vs. family) that is elected.
- A calendar shift, starting in the second year of the contract, for the implementation of annual increases, from July 1 to October 1. As with the health insurance contribution, RF refused to move on our other demands without this. RF cited the logistical difficulty of concluding a fiscal year at the end of June and immediately paying increases in July. However, we were successful in rolling back management’s demand for the first year of the contract. In Year 1, increases will be retroactive to July 1. In Years 2 and 3, increases will begin and end in October. The first-year rate remains in effect for July 2021 to October 2022.
- The removal from the bargaining unit of employees working four hours or less per week. This was already the case at City Tech. This affects 4 people at the Graduate Center and LaGuardia.
The next and final step is a vote by the union membership on whether to ratify the agreement as the new contract. All RF employees represented by the PSC at LaGuardia, the GC, and City Tech who have been union members in good standing for at least four months are eligible to vote. We encourage you to ratify this contract so that salary increases retroactive to July 1 can be received without further delay and so that we can continue to build the power we need to make additional gains in the next round of bargaining.
Voting instructions will be forthcoming in a separate message.
Antonica James (Chapter Chair)
Lori Rothstein (Delegate)
Brian Graf (Organizing Coordinator, City Tech)
Sam Lewis (Organizer, Graduate Center)
Sam Rasiotis (Organizer, LaGuardia)