JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the hardworking members of AFSCME Locals 1328 and 1781, it was not a question of how they were going to vote on their new contract but when they could do so. The two north Florida locals, which represent 2,400 clerks, LPNs, maintenance, PCAs and other professional and critical staff at UF Health Jacksonville, overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract.
When the two days of voting concluded, more than half of the membership had voted, and not a single “no” vote was cast.
“Even in these tough times we are moving forward and making gains with this contract,” said Lorenzo Sheppard a maintenance mechanic who serves as AFSCME Local 1328’s president. “We stood strong, won a pay increase and held the line on health benefits!”
Bargaining together for a single contract, the locals were able to win on just about every major issue that members had advocated. Employees will see a 2 percent pay increase for meeting agreed performance standards and an additional $1 per hour for weekend shifts, while contributions into 401(k) retirement plans will be matched up to 6 percent by UF Health. There were no changes to the members’ vision plan and only minor increases to medical and dental plans that, at most, will cost an additional $2.30 monthly.
Both locals used the new contract as an opportunity to engage coworkers around the issues affecting them, what it means to be AFSCME Strong, and how being part of the AFSCME team will help them secure their economic future while they are improving the community’s health and wellbeing. Especially helpful is new discipline and grievance procedure language that sets specific time limits so that members can be better represented.
“This contract ensures that our jobs and rights are protected and that we are protected with a safe work environment,” said Kecia Harris, a nurse who serves as AFSCME Local 1781’s president. “All this while improving pay and strengthening our retirement.”
Unfortunately the very short time window between negotiations to voting cut into the number of one-on-one conversations that could be held, but the 42 new members and 19 new PEOPLE contributors point to the momentum that is beginning to build with AFSCME Florida.