Stanford University, union reach agreement; SEIU votes overwhelmingly to approve it

Negotiators for Stanford and SEIU Local 2007 used a collaborative process known as "interest-based bargaining" to reach the five-year contract, which was overwhelmingly approved by the union's members. 

Stanford University and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2007 have reached an agreement on a new five-year contract for 1,263 union members who work on campus and at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

The employees overwhelmingly voted to approve the new contract on Sept. 3.

It was the first time Stanford and the union used a less-adversarial style of negotiating, known as "interest-based bargaining," to develop a new contract.

Representatives of both bargaining teams attended a two-day seminar at Harvard University last April on the negotiating strategy, which is sometimes called “win-win bargaining” because the teams collaborate to develop mutually beneficial agreements.

"This contract is ushering in a new era of labor relations at Stanford," said David Jones, director of Employee & Management Services at Stanford. "It is not only going to be the new way we bargain collectively, but also how we solve problems together as we shift from interest-based bargaining to interest-based problem-solving."

Jones said the new contract will help the university reduce costs by slowing the pace of wage increases. The five-year term of the contract is the longest in Stanford’s 37-year relationship with the union. Contract negotiations began July 7.

Jose Escanuela, the president of SEIU Local 2007, said the new negotiating approach helped both sides overcome a long history of mistrust. He said it was a difficult year for bargaining, given the country’s financial crisis.

"Using the more collaborative approach of interest-based bargaining, we focused on preserving the jobs of the people we represent, providing raises and maintaining quality health insurance coverage," said Escanuela, a landscape maintenance lead in the Ground Services Group.

"Despite the economic situation we were able to make significant improvements to wages. We were also able to achieve many significant contract language improvements, and while these changes do not cost Stanford, they do contain improvements to working conditions, including job security."

The union local, which is known on campus as United Stanford Workers, represents a variety of staff, including maintenance workers, laboratory support personnel, custodians and food service employees.

Highlights of the contract include:

  • Employees will receive across-the-board raises of 12.5 percent over the next five years, beginning with a 2 percent raise in September of 2010.
  • Employees also will receive 2 percent annual step raises, reaching the top of the pay scale in their job classifications in 10 years. Under the old contract, workers received annual raises ranging from 4.5 to more than 5 percent, and reached the top of the pay scale in five years.
  • Some groundskeepers will be transferred to an outside union landscaping contractor; they will continue working on campus at reduced wages.
  • Union members will be able to use some of their Staff Training Assistance Program (STAP) funds for career training programs sponsored jointly by Stanford and the union.

Elaine Ray, Campus Communications: (650) 387-0636, ray@stanford.edu