Thursday, October 9, 2003

Miami U. service workers end strike

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OXFORD - After nearly two weeks on strike, more than 400 food service workers, maintenance employees and grounds crews at Miami University will be back on the job today. Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 209 voted 151-125 Wednesday night to accept an amended three-year contract offer. The union represents about 860 employees.

"It's back to work," said Local 209 president Randy Marcum. "It was the first time we stood up for ourselves and that was a big accomplishment."

The new contract calls for:

• Starting wages to increase by at least 5 percent in mid-March after a wage review.

• A 4.25 percent increase already implemented and a 3 percent increase in each of the next two years.

• A guarantee that if non-union hourly workers receive more than a 3 percent increase in 2004 and 2005, bargaining unit members would receive an equal increase.

• A limit to health insurance increases for almost all employees in the unit.

• The school to take no action against picketers.

Union leaders say some workers earn as little as $7.73 an hour, but university officials say most earn $9 to $9.99 an hour.

While the strike disrupted few classes, strikers' signs, bullhorns and whistles brought attention to the workers' message of low wages.

"There have been no winners in this dispute," university president James Garland said. "There is nothing for either side to celebrate except that the ordeal is finally over."


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