Union Builder Communicator: December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays and a Peaceful New Year!

Healthcare Contract Held Hostage
Bargaining nearly came to a conclusion last week but came to a screeching halt when UC insisted that HX employees forfeit their right to bargain their pension contributions or benefits for all 5 years of the contract. UC has put out memos showing an 8% pay cut for the pension plan and we are getting a more than 50% increases in health care premiums. Given these dramatic changes, HX employees must have an equal voice at the table. The University has offered that HX would get whatever TX/RX get but that they would not be able to strike or have an official seat at the bargaining table. The only motive for this proposal can be to divide and conquer and disrupt the developing unity of our unions to defend our pensions and other benefits.

As far as the pay increases, UC has made a verbal commitment to address dramatic market inequities but has not committed this in writing yet. Health care professionals at the UC medical centers face dramatic wage inequity in many areas. Starting pay for UCSD pharmacists is more than 70% behind market and more than 80% behind market at Kaiser. At UCLA, psychologists and child development associates are each more than 30% behind market rates. At UCSF, clinical social workers and physicians' assistants lag the market by 13% and 25%, respectively. These comparisons are based on 2005 market rates, so the current reality is likely worse. You can see our full chart on our website. If you have additional information or questions, please contact the HX bargaining team.

Besides affecting our pocketbooks, these gross inequities undermine patient care. UC's retention and recruitment of the best applicants suffers because wages are so low. While new hires are offered generous incentives, they soon find out their wages stagnate and start looking for new work. UC decisions to under staff critical areas means that many employees must schedule vacations a year in advance, and work under draconian attendance policies just to maintain basic hospital functions. Social workers do not have adequate time to ensure adequate post-hospitalization care, pharmacists are backed up in filling prescriptions, and clinical lab techs barely have time to look up from their bench.

Read the real life stories of our health care professionals. We want your story! Speak with an UPTE-CWA rep at your medical center. Let's make UC and the public aware this is about patient care.

UC Pension Proposal to Divide & Conquer
A couple of weeks ago, UC sent the coalition bargaining team a letter saying it will only bargain about the impact of redirecting employees' contributions away from our 401k-styled Defined Contribution Plan (DCP), and not about the regents' decision to fund the UCRP pension (defined benefit plan), let alone any wage increases or retiree health benefits. Last week, UC did a 180- degree flip and offered wage increases of 1 to 3% to offset pension plan contributions, but only to some campuses, some bargaining units, and those making less than $35,000 per year. This is clearly a ?divide and conquer? strategy on UC's part. Of the three unions in the coalition bargaining, AFSCME workers almost all make less than 35K, many CUE workers make less than 35K and less than half of UPTE-CWA workers make less than 35K.

Union pressure and employee activism has forced UC put some real money on the table to offset any pension contribution. This is a major step in the right direction. But we need any raises to apply to everyone and not a small, select group. Our team will resist UC's divide and conquer proposals because we know our strength is in unity. Please read the latest bargaining reports and distribute them to your colleagues.

Police Brutality at UCLA
Through YouTube , the world saw UCLA police repeatedly taser an Iranian-American student who refused to show his student ID after 11PM in the campus library. The officer, with a record of previous excessive use of force, used the taser despite any resistance from the student. When the student was unable to stand due to previous taser shocks, the officer tasered him again.

UPTE-CWA condemns this excessive use of force, and has written the acting chancellor at UCLA to investigate and take action to prevent any recurrence of this police brutality.

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This e-publication was prepared by UPTE-CWA President Jelger Kalmijn. Contact him if you have any questions or comments. If you wish to be removed from this list, please email info@upte-cwa.org.