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In the past two “statements” from the faculty negotiations team to membership, we have referenced the state “pattern.” After multiple questions about what this is, we thought we’d put this primer out for your information.

In June 2011, a week before the expiration of their respective contracts, AFSCME and the PSSU section of SEIU settled with the Commonwealth. Both settled for almost exactly the same money, establishing a “pattern” in further negotiations. This pattern was further reinforced days later when the Corrections Officers received an arbitration ruling that, though a year shorter, had the essential elements of the “pattern.”

Here are the basics of the AFSCME/PSSU pattern (which covers tens of thousands of Commonwealth workers):

  • Four-year contract (2011-June 2015 – notably, beyond the term of the Governor in office);
  • Across-the-board increases of 1%-1%-2% (with a 0 in 2011-12) – often characterized as 0-1-1-2 (notably, in the AFSCME contract these are staggered throughout the years);
  • Step increases in the last three years of the contract (none in 2011-12);
  • No significant plan changes to health care (the one change was a move from $50 to $100 copay for emergency room visits);
  • An increase in “premium share” from 1.5% of salary to 2% of salary in the fourth year of the contract (with an increased penalty for not participating in the wellness program in the fourth year);
  • No significant changes in annuitant health care benefits.

Although these are the smallest across-the-board increases in AFSCME history, they do reflect the Commonwealth’s economic status in spring 2011 (before the first Corbett, reduce-spending budget passed) but also a “status quo” — the pattern does NOT include union concessions, if low wage increases.

When the AFSCME contract was settled, Governor Corbett stated in a press release, “this is a fiscally-responsible agreement that reflects the economic conditions in Pennsylvania, as well as meeting the parameters of the proposed budget.”

I hope this helps you understand our recent messages, and the context within which we are working.

In solidarity,

Steve

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