UI employees rally for fair wages

By Charlotte Collins

Two rallies were held Wednesday afternoon to bring attention to pay freezes and the stagnation of contract negotiations for University employees working in child development.

Employees were joined by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME. The rallies took place outside of the Swanlund Administration Building at 12:15 p.m. and the Child Development Laboratory at 4:30 p.m.

The organization and purpose of the two rallies differed slightly. The first, held outside of the Swanlund Administration Building — in hopes of gaining the attention of University administrators — was organized as a traditional rally aimed toward the general public with megaphones, signs and speakers. The second focused on educating families picking up their students from the Child Development Laboratory and asked families to reach out to upper administration in support of the employees.

Dave Beck, AFSCME staff representative, said negotiations between upper administration regarding raising childhood development workers’ wages have been stalled for 16 months. The group is hoping to get a contract and is looking to next week’s negotiations to do so.

Beck said employees’ wages have been frozen for two years and they hope administrators will agree on a contract to change the “poverty wages” they currently earn from the University.

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    “They are not just babysitters, a lot of them have higher degrees, some of them even have master’s degrees,” Beck said. “They’re there to not only care for kids and help make sure research done with those kids is being done appropriately. They are the heart and the soul of childhood development lab.”

    Ann Zettervall, president of AFSCME local chapter 3700 and employee in the department of aerospace engineering, said she hopes the rallies spread awareness to anyone in the campus community.

    “The more people who hear what we’re going through, the more that the administration will listen to us,” Zettervall said.

    She said despite not having asked for anything they haven’t been granted in the past, the negotiations have now spanned over a year. The employees’ previous contracts expired in August 2014. Previously, Zettervall said, annual increases were agreed upon, but the upper administration is asking to eliminate them.

    “All we’re asking for is the fair wages that they’ve agreed to in the past,” Zettervall said. “We’re not asking for anything new, we’re just asking for them to give us what they’ve given us for over 20 years.”

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