By ROBERT KELLY
The Labor union representing staff members other than faculty at the University of Missouri is protesting a proposal before the university’s Board of Curators that the union contends would cut much paid time off for workers that it represents.
“This is a weird thing,” said Andrew Hutchinson, union representative for Laborers Local 955, based at Columbia, Mo.
“The union opposes any and all cuts to wages and benefits,” he said in an interview. “We will fight this proposal. We invite all staff members across all UM-System campuses to reach out and join the fight.”
Hutchinson said the proposal purports to add paid parental leave, caregiver leave and short-term disability leave to the paid days off already granted to staff members. Even so, he said, the plan also would reduce some regular staff vacation days, sick leave and personal days.
COULD LOSE 10 DAYS OFF
Hutchinson contended that the proposal would actually reduce the number of annual paid days off available to staff members to 31 from 41.
Christian Basi, a spokesman for the Missouri University System, said the proposed new time off categories would actually benefit staff workers in the long run. “It really depends on your perspective,” he said.
Basi said had to use sick leave last year for a medical problem that would qualify for short-term disability leave under the proposal. The curators are obtaining public comments on the plan now and could vote on it at their next scheduled meeting on Sept. 7.
The proposal would affect about 13,000 staff members on all four university campuses and at the University Hospital in Columbia.
Staff at the University of Missouri-St. Louis would be among those affected by the plan. If approved in September, the plan would take effect in 2024.
Not all staff members belong to a union. The university is an open-shop employer under the state’s “right-to-work” law, which does not require workers to join a union at their workplaces.
The board is not scheduled to vote on the proposal at its September meeting, but Basi said that could change.
Hutchinson said he believes the curators want to cut the benefits of thousands of staff members in the UM System. He added that he hoped the curators would instead give serious consideration to the union’s concerns at their Sept. 7 meeting in Kansas City.
Hutchinson urged all university staff members affected by the plan to express their individual concerns on a union form available to them online at https://tinyurl.com/MU-PTO.