After very difficult and contentious labor negotiations, UJA and District Council 1707 reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday, February 27, 2019. On March 4, 2019, an overwhelming majority of members of District Council 1707 at UJA ratified the new agreement.
Negotiations were on the verge of collapse on February 25, 2019, when the union’s negotiation committee stormed out of the meeting soon after negotiations began. District Council 1707 Executive Director Kim Medina stepped into negotiations that day after talks broke down in January and the parties were returning to the bargaining table after a two-week hiatus. However, the parties were still far apart and the negotiations committee was extremely dissatisfied with UJA management’s offer and their hardline approach to bargaining. The union negotiation committee walked out of the negotiations and refused to bargain again that day to demonstrate to management their determination to get a fair contract.
The parties returned to the bargaining table on February 27, 2019 and advised UJA management that if the parties did not reach agreement that day, District Council 1707 would not extend the contract, which would have given the union members the right to strike on March 1, 2019. The parties engaged in hard bargaining the rest of the day before reaching agreement and inking a memorandum of agreement at 10:30 on the evening of February 27, 2019.
The agreement provides for, among other things, a wage package totaling 8.75% for three years. The members of the bargaining committee were elated, since the day began with UJA management offering only 6.75% for three years. The agreement provides for other important benefits, such as the equalization of vacation accruals for support staff with professional staff, which will mean more vacation days for support staff. Unfortunately, members hired before 2010 who are still in the UJA pension plan will be switched into the cash balance plan, which provides for a much reduced pension, effective October 19, 2019. However, the Union will be able to designate .25% of the increase in the second year of the contract for those employees who will lose the pension, which will be a salary increase of over $1,000, maybe as high as $1,200, in the second year of the contract. This was done to compensate them for the loss of the pension plan and to make their final, cash balance
District Council 1707 Executive Director Kim Medina said, “the parties engaged in hard bargaining, and while we did not get everything we wanted, the members of our bargaining committee were extremely happy because they recognize that their hard work paid off and that they received a fair contract that balances the members’ needs with the financial headwinds that UJA faces in an uncertain economic future.”
District Council 1707 is looking forward to working with UJA management in the coming years and continuing the productive and amicable relationship it has always enjoyed. We appreciate that UJA management recognized the commitment of DC 1707 members to the agency and went the extra mile to work out a fair compromise that enable us to get a good contract that our members and UJA can be proud of.
The UJA membership, although it has many senior employees, is one of the youngest in District Council 1707. Medina commented on the irony of UJA having so many young members, while having such a long-term relationship with the union. Medina said, “UJA is our mother ship. It is where our union was born when the workers there unionized in the 1930s. At District Council 1707 we are trying to energize and engage Millenials and young people to be active in the union. Our young members at UJA energized me. I got home from negotiations on Wednesday night after mid-night and could not fall asleep because I was so excited and proud of the efforts of our bargaining committee at UJA. They energized and engaged me.”