KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some University of Missouri-Kansas City employees are calling it “a bait and switch.”

A new benefits package that the University of Missouri System is considering would alter their time off structure. It has some union employees crying foul.

“Hell no to PTO!” chanted a crowd of 30 hourly employees who gathered for a Tuesday afternoon protest near UMKC’s student union.

Those union employees complain the proposed benefits package the UM System’s Board of Curators is considering would take away 10 paid days off per employee.

The plan would compensate them with additional short-term disability time for child bonding and elderly parent time. It also proposes combining sick time, personal days off and paid vacation days into one classification. The complicated proposal also includes a provision that would compensate employees for time accrued.

“What’s happening is they’re going to give me short-term disability, but you know what I get with short-term disability? I get 60% of my pay,” said Kim Jarrett, a UMKC hourly employee.

UM System leaders have been considering this package since June. Union workers have staged three protests this week, including Tuesday’s display at UMKC, where they made it clear they don’t favor the change.

“That is what saved me whenever I was going on maternity leave. I needed those days. I used everything I had accrued, and when I came back, I had nothing,” said Liza Case, another UMKC hourly worker. “That’s literal pay that’s coming out of my pocket.”

“Those 10 days are very important to us. No matter how you look at it, we’re losing 10 days — if you’re exempt or non-exempt in all reality,” said Chris Curtis, who also works as a union employee at the university.

Christian Basi, a spokesperson for the University of Missouri System, told FOX4 the plan reflects modern needs employees have asked for.

“Things have changed over the past several decades in terms of what employees expect or how long employers can expect employees to be in a particular position. As those things have changed, benefits packages have changed. This is an evolution of that,” Basi said.

Basi added the UM System has made alterations to its proposal based on feedback it received from employees, some of whom, according to Basi, see this proposed plan as a positive.

If Wednesday’s vote doesn’t favor these 13,000 union workers, they’ll be unable to stop work since they’re considered employees in the public sector, according to Missouri laws. 

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