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January 22, 1998

Negotiations continue between Pitt, Local 29

Negotiators for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 29 are scheduled to submit a list of questions to Pitt's administration tomorrow, Jan. 23, regarding health insurance and other issues.

Pitt custodians, grounds-keepers and food service workers represented by SEIU voted 203-108 in November to reject a contract that University and union negotiators had tentatively agreed on.

Pitt SEIU members have been working on a series of contract extensions since their last contract with the University expired Dec. 31, 1995. The latest contract extension expires Feb. 28, and the next negotiation session is scheduled for Feb. 2.

Nelson Bryant, secretary-treasurer and chief negotiator for SEIU Local 29, said the union is seeking clarification on a number of details included in the proposed contract that workers rejected last fall. Bryant said SEIU also wants details on Pitt's next health insurance contract for non-union faculty and staff, a contract that the University has not yet finalized.

In a Jan. 21 letter to Pitt's SEIU members, Allan Boggs, who is leading the Pitt negotiation team, wrote: "Despite nearly two and one-half years of exhaustive, detailed negotiations that resulted in numerous proposed language changes to the current contract, the union spokesperson has now asked the University to provide the reasons for the changes that were previously negotiated. The union agreed to provide the University with a written list of specific questions about the tentative agreement which was voted down at the end of last year." Regarding health benefits, Boggs wrote that Pitt "is willing to consider any reasonable benefits option" for SEIU members. But he cautioned that "the cost of University benefits may increase in the near future, and the cost of any particular option will affect the other economic terms to which the University will agree." Bryant declined further comment, saying the union hopes to mail an update on negotiations to members within the next week.

— Bruce Steele

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