Union Builder Communicator: November 29, 2007

TX/RX Bargaining Starting
Our members have the first say in setting our priorities by completing our bargaining survey. The survey results will be the starting point for discussion at our campus and statewide bargaining conferences. Initial results indicate that compensation, benefits and pension issues rank high for members across the state. If you or your co-workers have not filled out the survey or had the opportunity to have a group meeting to discuss our upcoming challenges, please contact your UPTE-CWA office. We want to every member's opinion to count and so we want to seek them out.

UPTE will inform UC of what sections of the contract we will bargain about in January and UC has to do the same with UPTE in February. The first negotiation sessions should take place in March. Our team will be looking to get a quick start because our contract expires at the end of June and we are bargaining for raises that are due in October.

Please put up our bargaining timeline poster in your work place to remind you and everyone in your work area about our bargaining.

We will start preparing regular bargaining updates that you can distribute to your co-workers early next year. While we will also send out information by email, nothing beats face-to-face discussion and two-way dialog to keep our union member run. Next year's bargaining will certainly be a challenge, especially with the looming financial crisis with the state budget.

UPTE-CWA Opts Out of Stay Well
This week UPTE-CWA joined the other UC unions to reject participation in the healthcare risk assessment surveys contracted out to Stay Well. While on first look the program seems to offer a benefit by giving you advise on how to stay healthy and reduce health risks, the program has hidden dangers that could impact your health benefits for the rest of your life. After persistent questioning by the California Nurses Association, UC admitted that any information that you provide to Stay Well will be shared with your health care insurer. If they know you have unhealthy habits or previous health problems they may deny you care or even insurance.

Worse yet, in CNA's experience with this kind of program at the Sutter Hospital chain, the program starts out as an employee benefit with financial incentives but ends as a punitive tool. At Sutter, a couple years into the program employees' premiums were raised by $100's/month if they did not participate in the health risk survey. Also, if they did not follow the advice given by the program, their premiums increased.

Because of these systematic infringements on confidentiality and the history of this kind program, UPTE-CWA informed UC that our members would not participate in this program. It is our hope that because almost all the other unions did the same, that UC will drop the program.

Raises Coming Through
The cost-of-living portion of the TX and RX raises was effective October 1 and the longevity steps will be effective January 1 for raises totaling about 5.8% for most. We have already fixed some errors in the implementation of these raises for employees at or above the top of their pay scale. If you believe that your raise was not accurate, contact a steward or the union office immediately.

The HX raises were implemented in the middle of the year. We are, however, working on a variety of additional equity increases including for Pharmacists at UCSF. If you believe that there is either internal inequity or your pay continues to dramatically lag market rates, contact UPTE so that we can work together to advocate for additional increases.

Unrepresented employees were promised a merit pool of 4% for raises. Our preliminary reports show that UC is consistently not even distributing this 4%. This means that this year, UPTE-CWA members will get 2% more than those without a union. Last year UPTE-CWA got about 1% more.

Challenging Abuse of Limited Appointment Jobs
UPTE-CWA discovered that several campuses have found a new method to unjustifiably hire employees as limited appointment (what was previously called casual ). Especially in research positions, new employees are brought in as limited appointment even though their job does not meet the contractual requirements for this status. Limited appointment is intended for jobs that are less than 50% or of very short duration. Those erroneously placed in this job category lose the retirement credit for this period and are not eligible for disability, dental or vision insurance. The University also uses this mechanism to avoid open hiring policies and laws. Most of limited appointment employees are converted to career according to the contractual language negotiated when UC used to keep employees as casuals for years by laying them off for one day each year. If you feel that you or one of your co-workers has been a limited appointment erroneously, please contact the UPTE-CWA chief steward, Cliff Fried.

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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.