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February 2, 2006

Agreement reached on Tuesday with service-workers union on benefits issues

Stanford and Service Employees International Union Local 715 agreed on Tuesday to close contract negotiations over pensions and a few other benefits issues. The contract was reopened late last year—pursuant to a clause previously agreed upon by both parties—to revisit a limited set of benefits issues.

As part of Tuesday's agreement, the university will change the "base earnings year" for the Stanford Retirement Annuity Plan (SRAP) from 1992 to 1994, effective retroactive to Sept. 1, 2005—and further adjust the base earnings year to 1995 in September 2008. By increasing the base year for computing contributions to SRAP—Stanford's defined-pension plan—the university increases the amount it deposits into a participant's account.

Separately, the university is making the same adjustment for all unrepresented Stanford employees who are active participants in the SRAP.

University and union negotiators also agreed that SRAP would not be a subject of negotiations this summer, when discussions for the next contract will begin. The workers' current contract ends Aug. 31. And according to Diane Peck, executive director of human resources, the agreement defers discussions on all other union and university issues until this summer.

The union represents a bargaining unit of 1,460 university technicians, maintenance staff and service workers. After negotiators for both sides came to an agreement on Tuesday, workers in the union voted to approve its terms by a 93-percent margin—marking the end of a process that began in October.

On Dec. 12, 2005, about 90 percent of the bargaining-unit employees participated in a 24-hour strike. Normal university operations ran smoothly during the work stoppage. Talks resumed at the start of this quarter, with union members voting soon after to allow their negotiating team to call another strike at any time. But with an agreement ratified, no strike will take place.

"Our members spoke loudly and clearly to Stanford University regarding what their needs were. We are pleased that the university listened to us and no strike will occur," said Zev Kvitky, an operations engineer at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and president of United Stanford Workers, the on-campus chapter of SEIU Local 715.

"This agreement shows that difficult issues can be resolved at the bargaining table," Peck said in a statement released on Wednesday. "I am optimistic that this same spirit of meaningful dialogue and cooperation will serve as a foundation for negotiations on the new contract this summer."

Compensation issues regarding wages and health-care coverage are expected to be discussed when negotiations over a new contract begin this summer.


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