UE press conference protects worker’s interests

After months of discussion and debate, negotiations between the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers (UE) local 267 Union and the UVM administration have reached an impasse.The UE, which represents more than 350 service and maintenance workers, announced that they would hold a press conference in the Davis Center on Oct. 7, 2009.At the conference, spokesmen for the Union cited poor wage and retirement options as its main issues with the University’s offers.Union leader David Hamilton pointed out the failure of the University to meet wage increase demands. He also pointed out the University’s intention of taking control of retiree health care benefits.”We have a lot of people in the Union that have been here between 20 and 30 years and put their time in; relying on these health benefits as part of their retirement package,” Hamilton said. “To have the ability to take that away at this point is not an acceptable offer to us.”UVM senior Lindsey Gillies spoke on behalf of the Student Labor Action Project. Gillies emphasized the importance of the UE’s workers to the UVM campus.”They make the school run,” Gillies said. “They clean our dorms, they drive our buses, they maintain our buildings. Without them, there is no UVM””The one positive aspect to all of this is that union is negotiating with the administration, not individual people,” United Academics President David Shiman said.Shiman applauded the Union’s resolve and offered encouragement in the face of difficult negotiations.”I hope that the union sticks with their guns, and that the University comes around and realizes that they have to offer this important part of the institution better wages and better benefits than they presently have,” Shiman said.