MIAMI – It’s always been a challenge for coworkers to connect at Florida International University since FIU is spread out over several campuses and research facilities across South Florida and the Florida Keys.
And that has made it hard for AFSCME Local 3346 activists and leaders to communicate all the success they have achieved for their coworkers.
That’s why, heading into contract negotiations this year, they decided to run an aggressive ratification campaign to turn out as many employees as possible so FIU staff could see exactly what their union had won for them. And they held a membership blitz shortly after the contract was ratified this summer to build on the increased visibility.
“We wanted to keep members and nonmembers as engaged as possible throughout the process,” said David Cowart, a groundkeeper and president of Local 3346. “With so many buildings spread across multiple counties we wanted this new contract to be something that could unite us and underscore that we, the workers, made it possible.”
The new contract – valid until the summer of 2020 – includes various pay and longevity provisions equaling a 3 percent increase in each year of the three-year contract. Local 3346 also won new employee orientation language and prevented adverse changes to employee health care and pension benefits.
“If there was ever a time you could point out the AFSCME difference here at FIU, this is it,” said Cowart. “While employees covered by our contract won a 3 percent raise, those who are not covered got only a 1 percent raise. But most importantly, we grew closer together as coworkers and AFSCME members.”
Not a single no vote was cast in ratification. More than three dozen new members have signed up, representing a 23 percent membership increase and a bright new day for Local 3346.