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Labor Relations Advisor, July 2015

August 3, 2015

SEIU Represented Janitors Ratify Four Year Deal in Washington, D.C Region

On July 27, 2015, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ announced the ratification of a contract covering 10,200 commercial office cleaners in Maryland, Virginia and Washington.

The other party to the agreement is the Washington Service Contractors Association (WSCA) which represents the region’s major cleaning companies including Red Coats Inc., ABM Industries Inc., and USSI.

According to the Union, the agreement provides yearly wage increases of $0.50 per hour. Over the life of the agreement that amounts to a $2 hourly pay increase with wages as high as $16.10 per hour for part-time cleaners and $16.60 per hour for full-time cleaners in DC. While the $2 increase applies to all employees regardless of region, the actual rates are slightly lower outside of the District of Columbia.

The $2 per hour increases translate to substantial annual increases ($4,000 more per year for employees working 40 hours per week) by the last year of the contract in 2019.

According to the Union, employees will maintain current health benefits with very minor changes. Employees will continue to receive paid vacation, holidays and sick leave. Paid sick days will increase to seven in DC as SEIU claims is “guaranteed by a D.C. law that 32BJ fought for and passed.”

The union also expects the agreement to create up to 700 full time jobs in DC in 2017.

The union’s full summary is available here.

Employee Contribution to Health Plans Stays Constant at 22 Percent While Paid Sick Leave Expands

According to a Department of Labor (DOL) report released on July 24, 2015, private sector employees paid an average of 22 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of their employer-provided health plan premiums for single and family coverage. These percentages are in line with the report’s finding from one year earlier.

The report also showed that employees earning $9 or less contributed the highest share (30%) while workers in the top 10 percent of jobs, earning $43.27 per hour or more paid the lowest shares (20 percent).

Union-represented employees were offered a medical health care plan (95%) more than nonunion employees (67%). In addition, a higher percentage of unionized workers elected coverage (83% versus 71%). Unionized workers also typically pay a smaller share of the premium for single coverage (13% versus 23%) and family coverage (16% versus 35%).

Due to New York City and other municipalities enacting laws requiring paid sick leave, the percentage of employers providing the benefit is expected to expand as additional cities follow suit.

The DOL report also shows the percentage of employers who provide paid sick leave increases with the size of the employer. For example, 53% of public sector employers with 1 to 49 workers provide paid sick leave, while 84% of employers with over 500 workers provide paid sick leave.

The full report contains additional details about current benefit levels in the US and is available here.

Union Members Ratify Contracts with General Electric

Members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) and members of the International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE), a Communications Workers of America (CWA) affiliate, ratified separate four-year contracts at the end of June.

The agreements cover 3,480 UE-represented employees and 9,300 IUE-represented employees. According to the IUE, 83.5% of the eligible members who voted approved of the contract.

UE said in a statement, “One of the most important elements of the 2015 negotiations was the successful resistance by UE and the other unions of General Electric’s attempt to eliminate company subsidies for post-65 health insurance.  All UE members will continue to retire with post-65 health care subsidies.”

The employees will also realize wage increases, COLA increases and lump sum bonuses. These compensation pieces will, together, increase the pay of every UE-represented GE employee by more than $15,000.

The same terms of the new contracts are being offered to other General Electric workers represented by other unions.

Allison Beck Confirmed as New FMCS Director

On July 29, the Senate confirmed Allison Beck as the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Beck will be the 18th director of the agency and the first woman director.

Previously, Beck served as FMCS’s deputy director for over four years. In September of 2014 she was nominated for the director position by President Barack Obama and has since been serving as the agency’s acting Director.

Prior to joining the FMCS, Beck worked in labor law and labor-management relations. She served as General Counsel for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (IAM) for 20 years.

Beck has a bachelor's degree from Goucher College and a law degree from Catholic University.