IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Representatives from SEIU Local 199 are meeting with the Board of Regents on Wednesday receive a proposal. SEIU is the union for the more than 3,000 UIHC hospital workers.
The union thought it had a contract in place last year, but the board of regents opted not to honor it with Iowa's new collective bargaining law. That means workers have been going by an employee handbook.
The union is currently suing the Board of Regents over that contract, but now, they're also working on getting a contract for 2019.
The law only allows unions to negotiate on base wages, and not benefits. That's why they don't know if they will get a contract or an employee handbook.
One key issue union workers are asking for is an 8 percent pay raise over the next two years, and they want to get paid for their overtime work sooner.
Some workers say they get their overtime money in a lump sum at the end of each quarter.
That's made it hard for medical lab scientist Coen Olson to make a living. He relied on that extra money and had to get a second job. Olson hopes they can convince the board of regents to negotiate those issues.
"It hurts,” he said. “You understand that to a certain extent that they can pretty much do whatever they want. It makes you feel to some extent, not value."
Another issue workers say they are dealing with is that they get punished for taking a sick day. That means they have to be around patients even when they are sick.
Brittany Mannix is a registered nurse at UIHC. She says the conditions is dropping morale. "If people don't have their rights respected,” she said. “We already are some of the lowest paid workers in the nation, and previously that's been kind of offset by our own strong benefits package, but if they slowly start to chip away at that, I mean we lose a lot of the incentive to recruit and retain the best staff here."
In a statement, a representative from the Board of Regents said “The Board of Regents values the members of SEIU, as well as all our students, faculty and staff, both organized and non-organized. They enhance the quality of teaching, research, and service at Iowa’s public universities. We will follow the collective bargaining process, starting with presenting our initial proposal to SEIU for upcoming negotiations.”