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May 1, 2003

SEIU spurns latest Pitt offer

Pitt upped its salary offer to the Pittsburgh campus service workers but a union official called Pitt’s latest proposal “unacceptable.”

The 350 service employees, which include cleaners, maintenance workers, grounds-keepers and pool operators, are members of Division 29 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), AFL-CIO. The SEIU workers have been negotiating with Pitt since their three-year contract expired Dec. 31.

In a follow-up letter to the most recent bargaining session on April 15, Pitt increased its salary offer from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent, according to John Greeno, Human Resources assistant vice chancellor for employee/labor relations, who is Pitt’s chief negotiator. The University also is offering the same new health care benefits options offered to faculty and non-unionized staff, he said.

But according to Tom Hoffman, deputy trustee of the local SEIU chapter, the health care benefits options are inadequate.

“The health care plan is totally unacceptable,” Hoffman said. Benefits costs will price many workers out of the health care plan options, he said. “We cannot afford to pay for this plan and still provide for our families,” Hoffman maintained.

The next bargaining session is set for May 15.

In July 2000, following six months of negotiations, the union and Pitt agreed to a three-year contract (retroactive to Jan. 1, 2000) that included a 3 percent annual pay hike for the service workers and UPMC Health Plan options common to all employees at that time. That contract expired last December. Workers have been working under monthly contract extensions since then.

—Peter Hart

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