Session 3: A Firm Response, Showing Your Support

In our third negotiating session, IAPE’s bargaining committee offered the union’s response to the company’s proposal and reiterated our stance to our corresponding requests.

Specifically, we told the company that we couldn’t accept their changes to layoff procedure as we see them as an effective elimination of seniority protections and cited the leeway that already exists in our contract during job cuts. We were met with silence from company representatives.

We also pushed back on the company’s proposal to eliminate the Cost of Living Adjustment clause in our collective bargaining agreement, an important provision meant to provide members added security in the event that inflation wipes out the negotiated compensatory increase in any contract year. And we told the company that we were opposed to making self assessments and goal-setting a mandatory component of the performance review process. We hold our position that it is management’s job to review employees’ performance.

There were some areas of understanding, including that current requirements for reporting to the office to be eligible for extra pay on a scheduled day off were out of date. We expect further discussion next week on the proposal to move away from premium pay to comp time and for a more simplified process to cash out time earned for work on a scheduled day off for overtime exempt employees.

We’ve told the company that we are open to the Virgin Pulse program as a choice for our members, as long as there remains a reimbursement option.

We will discuss the fitness benefit more as part of the broader discussion on health care at our next meeting on Tuesday. We expect it to be an intense negotiation, given the distance between the union’s position on the protections our members deserve and the company’s desire to change premiums and plan terms every year—as well as to remove the union’s ability to bargain over health benefits from our contract.

The June 25 negotiation will take place in Princeton and we’re asking all members to wear black that day to show your support for the bargaining committee. We will be making the case to hold cost sharing for health insurance at a level that we think is more than reasonable given the increases since our last negotiation. We’ve made clear that the previous contract was ratified in a different business environment, and now that the company’s performance is on a more solid footing, it is time to rethink the cost sharing increases allowed in 2016.