April 11, 2008
April 11, 2008
VOTE ‘YES’! – Houston city workers – members of HOPE – vote on their landmark contract.
Photo Credit: Evan Yeats
More than 13,000 Houston city employees, represented by the Houston Organization of Public Employees (HOPE/AFSCME Local 57), have won the first-ever contract between a Texas city and its non-uniform civilian workforce.
The City Council overwhelmingly approved the three-year contract on March 26, five days after the completion of a near-unanimous ratification vote taken over two weeks by members of HOPE, a partnership formed between AFSCME and SEIU. Among the contract’s key provisions:
- An immediate, across-the-board 3 percent raise for all employees, followed by annual 3 percent hikes starting in fiscal 2010.
- An immediate $9.50 hourly minimum wage that will rise to $10 an hour by September 2009.
- A “performance pay pool” that will fund merit-pay increases based on employee reviews.
- Worker/management consultation committees to promote better communications and strengthen city services.
Willie Moore, a systems support analyst for the Department of Public Works and Engineering and a former president of AFSCME Local 1550, says he’s worked for this landmark achievement for two decades. As a member of the contract negotiating team, he’s especially proud of the accomplishment. He observes:
“This is a tremendous deal. It’s a gratifying feeling knowing that perseverance counts. If you believe in the system and the solidarity of the union, you will succeed.”
A critical issue that emerged during 11 months of negotiations was whether managers should be covered by the contract. The city didn’t want to include them, “but we insisted” that they should be, says Moore. The union prevailed. Now, all managers other than department directors are included.
HOPE was established in 2006 after AFSCME successfully lobbied the state legislature to extend “meet-and-confer” rights to city workers, giving them the same rights as police and firefighters.
To learn more about the contract victory, read this story in The Houston Chronicle. Also, thanks goes to Stace Medellin and his blog, DosCentavos.net, for his keen observations on the Houston contract victory.