More than 1,000 nurses, clerical workers, pharmacists, and other support staff on the University of Toledo Health Sciences Campus cast almost meaningless ballots Monday evening in what amounted to a show of support for efforts to reach a new contract with school leaders, said Thomas Kosek, Jr., president of AFSCME Local 2415.
The vote was originally set up so that union members could consider a contract settlement put together by a neutral lawyer selected by the State Employment Relations Board, called a fact finder.
But trustees unanimously rejected the report Friday, the same day it was released. UT President Lloyd Jacobs said it was too vague.
At the ballot site Monday, in the basement of Mulford Library on the Health Sciences Campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, Mr. Kosek begged to differ but acknowledged that the union vote was of little consequence.
"They all know that no matter how they vote in this, the board has already rejected it," he said.
Mr. Kosek said the fact finder's report was clear and that it supported a union analysis of what the fair market wage for certain jobs on the campus should be.
For example, he said, the analysis found that registered nurses at UT are underpaid by about 15 percent compared with the larger market.
The voting continued into the evening. AFSCME members were expected to overwhelmingly support the fact finder's report, Mr. Kosek said. The university and the union have been negotiating since April, 2009, without success.
Mediation broke down in June, and the job of coming up with an equitable solution was given to the fact finder.
It would have given nurses, maintenance workers, and clerical workers at the Health Sciences Campus a 5 percent raise over three years.
After the report was rejected, Dr. Jacobs said in a news release that "we had hopes that this process would bring us one step closer to bringing these lengthy negotiations to a close.
"We sincerely look forward to continuing the dialogue as we continue to bargain in good faith."
- Christopher D. Kirkpatrick