Union contract expires

by Christopher Kao | 6/30/94 5:00am

The contract between the College and members of Local Union 560, which represents food service employees, custodial staff, heating plant workers and grounds crew expires today, with negotiations on a new contract at an impasse.

Union President Earl Sweet said the employees will work under the old contract for the time being.

Negotiation talks "have broken down," Sweet said. "We're kind of upset."

He said in a vote taken Tuesday night, the members of the union almost unanimously voted down the College's latest offer and are planning to take action, possibly in the form of demonstrations.

"I think [the vote] sends [the College] a strong message that the members of the union are not going to take it sitting down," Sweet said.

RogerBrock, the College's director of human resources, said, "We had hoped that we would be able to reach an agreement [Tuesday]. Unfortunately that has not happened."

Brock said from the College's perspective, "the ball is in their court at this point."

He said there is "an offer on the table hammered out over a period of some three months."

But Sweet said the College refuses to discuss one of the key issues in the talks, the union's concern that the College will convert year-long positions into nine-month jobs.

"We want some job security," he said. "We're very displeased that they have been unwilling to move on the nine-month issue," he said.

According to Sweet, a few weeks ago, the College converted a number of non-union member's jobs in the Collis Cafe from year-long to nine-month positions. Union members are concerned the College will make similar cuts to union jobs.

Sweet said the College has said that it has no intention of shortening more positions, but it is unwilling to sign a statement to that effect.

"Unfortunately they're not willing to talk about this issue," he said. "They're not willing to budge."

And, Sweet said, when the union asked that a mediator be brought in to help settle the dispute, the College "said they were not interested whatsoever."

"We were trying to show good faith" by offering to bring in a mediator, Sweet said, and instead, the College refused to allow mediation.

"To me it's kind of black and white," Sweet said. Until recently, "we've always felt a part of the Dartmouth family here."

But Brock said he felt that significant progress has been made over the last few months and that the College will continue to make efforts to resolve the disputes.

"We have an excellent working relationship," Brock said. "I think we've made excellent progress."

He said he thinks a new round of negotiations could start "right after the fourth of July."

Sweet said the union has not yet voted on what action to take. But, he said, "there will be action taken."

He said the union will definitely go to the "public, professors and the students and let them know what is going on here."

So far, he said, the union has received a lot of positive support from College professors and students. "Hopefully this will continue," he said.

Brock said the College does not "anticipate [and is] not planning for any labor unrest or difficulties."

"It's neither in their benefit, nor in ours" to strike, he said.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!