Yesterday the ACLU and the UAW Local 2110 sat down yet again to negotiate the terms of a new five-year contract for the 28 employees it represents. After bargaining and caucusing late into the night, negotiations failed to produce a contract both sides could agree on.
Over the last five months the two sides have been locked in a disagreement over, among other things, the cost of healthcare benefits to workers, protections from firing without just cause, and wage increases commensurate with the rise in the cost of living.
Because the union’s contracts have five-year terms, this is the first adjustment to them since before the economic crisis, meaning new fiscal realities for both sides. Among them is the ACLU’s budget deficit, management’s main bargaining chip, which is currently running at over $8 million. (Though several sources tell the Voice that members of the bargaining unit had never been officially informed of the ACLU’s budget deficit before this meeting. Many first heard of the deficit when the Voice broke the story last week.)
Last week the conflict spilled out onto the streets, when Local 2110, all of whom are low- to mid-level support staff like legal assistants and bookkeepers, picketed the ACLU national headquarters to demand a deal that respected the 30-year precedent the ACLU has with an otherwise sterling reputation for its contract provisions.
This go around, a different offer is on the table: Most of the language in the new contract that would make it easier for the ACLU to let employees go has been removed, a major sticking point in the dispute, as well as the offer to abate contributions to the healthcare plan for a year.
Still, Local 2110 found the terms of new deal unacceptable. Eden Schulz of Local 2110 (the same local that represents The Village Voice) says while that there was positive movement on both sides, but there are still “numerous” problems with the contract.
Declining to specify what those details are, Schulz noted that Local 2110 is trying to negotiate in good faith. “We’re prepared to look at their proposal seriously,” she adds.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement that management is acting in the best interest of the entire ACLU and expressed frustration that the process hasn’t concluded.
“We are disappointed that the union refuses to accept employee contributions that are among the lowest anywhere in the country and less than the contributions paid by other ACLU employees,” says Romero.
No word yet on when the parties will return to the table.