UC reaches wages, benefits agreement with employee union

After more than three years of negotiations, the University of California reached a five-year agreement Monday on wages and benefits for more than 12,500 university clerical staff, a deal which will be effective through November 2016.

Under the new contract between the university and the Coalition of University Employees — the union that represents most of the university’s clerical staff — staff will receive incremental wage increases until fiscal year 2015-16 and increase contributions to the UC Retirement Plan.

A tentative agreement between the two parties was reached Nov. 4, and union members voted on the agreement from Nov. 18 to Dec. 9, according a Monday press release from the UC Office of the President.

“We’re really happy that we’ve reached an agreement and that it’s for five years,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein. “I know union members were eager to get a contract because their wages were paid to their old contract. So, in other words, they haven’t gotten a pay increase since 2008.”

The new contract — which had been in negotiations since May 2008 — grants clerical staff a retroactive 3 percent wage increase for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Staff wages will continue to increase by 3 percent for each of the next three fiscal years from 2012-15 with a 2 percent increase for the final contract year of 2015-16, according to the press release.

Under the contract, clerical employees will increase contributions to the underfunded UC Retirement Plan at the same rate as the general university employee population, contributing 3.5 percent of their pay retroactive to July 1, 2011. Beginning July 1, 2012 staff will contribute 5 percent of their pay to the fund, and the contribution will increase to 6.5 percent starting July 1, 2013 as part of a systemwide effort to stabilize the underfunded pension fund through increased employee contributions.

“I think the entire contract was difficult,” Klein said. “[Union] members had to agree to pay more for pension benefits, which they hadn’t been doing before, so that’s a tough call. Also, they’ve gotten a 3 percent wage increase, which is more than certainly the nonrepresented employees.”