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January 23, 2003

Service workers’ contract extended

Pittsburgh campus service workers are now working under a contract extension. Their three-year pact expired Dec. 31, and union representatives have begun negotiations with Pitt on a new contract, according to a union official.

The 350 campus custodians, which includes cleaners, maintenance workers, grounds-keepers and pool operators, are members of Division 29 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), AFL-CIO.

According to Tom Hoffman, deputy trustee of the local SEIU chapter, negotiators from the two sides have met four times since Dec. 16. “It’s still so early in the negotiations that pay increases and length of contract have not even been discussed yet,” Hoffman said. “We’re in the language phase,” he said, that is, exchanging proposals for changes to the old contract’s wording.

“We’re working under contract extensions right now, which is not uncommon” after a union contract has expired, he said.

Service workers went seven months under extensions before the most recent contract was ratified in July 2000. That contract included provisions retroactive to Jan. 1, 2000.

Human Resources assistant vice chancellor for employee/labor relations John Greeno, who is Pitt’s chief negotiator, said the two sides are meeting regularly, with the next meting scheduled for Jan. 27.

Hoffman and Greeno both said the two sides have agreed not to publicly divulge specific proposals during negotiations.

But Hoffman said,“Like every other portion of the Pitt community — staff, students, faculty — we’re concerned by high pay raises to University administrators and what that might mean to our workers. Are there going to be major cutbacks [in non-administrative areas]? We want to see our jobs and our rights protected.”

—Peter Hart

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