The widely scattered Guild unit at the Solidarity Center has ratified a collective bargaining agreement to succeed the contract that expired Sept. 25.
The new contract features a 1 percent signing bonus, and annual wage increases of 1.5 percent the first year, 1.75 percent in the second year, and 2 percent in the third year.
“Overall, negotiations went pretty smoothly,” said Solidarity Center Unit Chair Rob Pajkovski, “and we were able to make some important gains. The SC also wanted a few things, but nothing of real consequence to us or our job security.”
“We were able to win back language that makes it easier to take comp days, and, we also increased the number of days from three floating personal/holidays to four comp days,” the unit chair said. “We were also able to improve our health-care protection. If the medical treatment you need is not available in [the Guild member’s] post country, the SC will cover flight and lodging to access needed health care in the nearest available country.”
In other contract highlights, paid parental leave was increased from six to 10 weeks, and there were gains in language covering sick leave, compassionate leave, severance pay, and in the Center’s contribution to the 401(k) plan.
And in what Pajkovski called “a major victory for us,” Article 22 (Respect and Dignity) will be subject to arbitration in the new contract. “Up until now, we could file a grievance if we felt that we had not been respected or treated with dignity, but we could not arbitrate those issues.”
The new three-year contract received tentative approval from the Guild bargaining committee Sept. 30. The members of the negotiations team were Pajkovski, Hind Cherrouk, Laurie Clements, Geoff Herzog, Tristan Masat, Jana Silverman, David Welsh, and WBNG Executive Director Cet Parks.
Launched by the AFL-CIO in 1997 as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the nonprofit organization assists workers around the world who are attempting to build democratic and independent trade unions. Funding is provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the departments of State and Labor, private foundations, and national and international labor organizations.
WBNG has been representing approximately two dozen Solidarity Center workers – many of whom are stationed outside the United States – since 2002. The new agreement expires Sept. 25, 2019.