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Collective Bargaining Discussions

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Jesse Slone
Board Member

Why I'm Voting Yes

As folks discuss whether to support or reject this contract, I want to share my perspective on why I am voting 'Yes.' I'm looking at a long-term solution to a long-term problem, so this decision is not just about the immediate future but shapes our strategic standing and long-term gains. I know some are about to retire, and that doesn't help them as much as I would like, but about 70% of our members are Tier IV and not close to retirement. On the other hand, if you're retiring soon, this contract will ensure that you are doing better than any who retired after 2021.

Historic Progress in Negotiations

This year, we achieved more in our negotiations than we have in decades. Through a professional and well-coordinated effort, our team not only secured significant wage increases and other gains but also ensured that the state remains open to addressing unresolved issues throughout the contract's lifecycle. This ongoing collaboration is unprecedented and promises continuous improvements. That doesn't mean that we're just doing what the state wants. Far from it, they are taking issues seriously because we are solution-oriented and focused on how fixing things for our members benefits all of us.

Contract Value and Financial Benefits

For the first time since I began tracking in 2000, our contract is projected to increase in value by about 5% after accounting for cost inflation. In the past, contracts either lost value or gained less than 1% at the end their three years. I can't make this point strongly enough, in over 20 years, this is the first significant gain in wages that will survive inflation at the end of our contract! If you look at the chart you'll see that we gained a tiny amount or lost significantly for contract after contract. This is the first time we've made any progress on recovering from these losses. This is a significant marker of progress, indicating that our efforts are translating into real financial benefits for our members. I am the first to acknowledge that there is a long way to go, I ran the numbers myself. But you can't turn around an investment that's been poorly invested in for two decades in five months of work. (edit: I suppose for clarification, I can't turn around an investment mismanaged that quickly, maybe others can)

*This is an updated chart, I explain all the math and have posted the code as a response to a question below in the comments

Consequences of Not Ratifying

Should we decide against ratification, the immediate consequence would likely be a lack of wage increases for up to a year—if then. Meanwhile, GGU is set to receive a 5% raise in July. A 'No' vote from us not only delays our own raises but potentially positions us unfavorably in public and political debates, where the blame may be shifted onto us. I want any blame to fall squarely where it lies, on those deciding how much to invest in state services.

Member Support

The feedback from our membership via email has been overwhelmingly positive, with approximately 9:1 in favor of the deal. This strong support from our members is not something I should go against. As a union, it's crucial that we adhere to the democratic principle of following the majority's will. If you feel there's more that's needed, please join me in working toward that goal.

Strategic Positioning and Future Planning

Accepting this contract now positions us advantageously for future negotiations. It sets a precedent for ongoing improvements and good-faith interactions with the state. Looking forward, this contract lays the groundwork for more ambitious goals. Our acceptance now is not just about immediate gains but about building a foundation for sustained improvement and stronger leverage in future dealings.

Arbitration Risks and Realities

Turning to arbitration carries significant risks, including the likelihood of achieving similar or less favorable outcomes without any retroactive pay. An arbitrator's focus will be on recent data (likely just the contract that ends in July) rather than our long (20+ year) history of underwhelming contracts, meaning we risk losing both time and money with little to gain.


This contract represents a substantial step forward in our ongoing efforts to improve working conditions and compensation for all members. I urge every member to participate in this vote. Your vote ensures that your voice is heard in shaping our union’s future.

Tyler Watson
Michael Schwahn


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