UMES union workers protest University System of Maryland Regents meeting after pay raise negotiations stall
Princess Anne, Md- Labor Leaders are called on the University System of Maryland to support HBCUs at a Board of Regents meeting at UMES Friday morning.
AFSCME union workers from the school and their counterparts from UMD and Townsown schools say the Board of Regents has bypassed the unions in negotiations, instead of implementing their own pay scales without union approval.
“We just want our HBCUs to be supported by this system and that means the student’s workers and administrators get the resources and technical assistance that they need to keep going,” said local AFSCME UMES Chapter President John Kenney.
Kenney tells us the administration has been delaying negotiation agreements while hiring non-union contract workers as a temporary solution. He tells us the USM has not accepted the group’s new MOU and is deferring to the previous agreements.
Kenney believes it’s a strategy to delay payments.
“Time is money so if they delay negotiations for 6 months that’s millions of dollars saved by the state,” he said.
He says UMES is a struggling HBCU but low enrollment numbers should be a sign to send more resources in to retain qualified staff.
“Don’t short-change us because our enrollment is down give us the resources that we need so that we give the product everyone is looking for in the state of Maryland,” he said.
The union workers also took issue with a newly proposed racial justice and equity proposal, saying that local civil rights leaders like the Somerset County NAACP were never reached out to about inequalities that exist on campus.
“The problem is there is no feedback from any civil rights organizations or labor organizations that work with universities,” said AFSCME President Patrick Moran.
Moran says if the school wants equality, they can start with paying people a living wage.
“We believe the USM should be paying people above poverty wages which is where we are after shaming them for years about not reaching 15 dollars an hour,” Moran said.
Local President Kenney tells 47ABC, that he wants to see one consolidated contract for USM workers, rather than each school paying out different rates for work, as well as a 30-year maxed-out pay scale, where surplus income would be awarded as bonuses after 30 years.
He says he would also want to see non-union contract workers hired by the school be provided a way to join the union, as they are currently barred from any collective bargaining agreement.
‘We want this for the university because this one has a lot of growth and promise and potential so with good salaries and potential folks will come,” he said.
In a statement on Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, USM Spokesman Mike Lurie said
“The University System of Maryland (USM) highly values its hard-working, highly skilled employees, and is committed to providing competitive wages and benefits. As part of this commitment, the Board of Regents approved a $15-per-hour minimum wage measure at its meeting last December. At its meeting today (June 17) the Regents approved market-based increases to the exempt pay structures. To address wage compression, they also approved additional increases to the nonexempt pay structure and compression pay increases to certain employees in the four lowest pay ranges. The USM looks forward to discussions with representatives of these workers on wages and other issues of mutual concern.”