Union Builder Communicator: March 10, 2008

Coalition Unions, Benefits, Pay And The State
The CNA nurses as well as the service and patient care technical workers represented by AFSCME are both working under expired contracts. Both unions are insisting that they will not allow UC to unilaterally set pension contributions and benefits during the life of any new contract (they are refusing to sign what is referred to as the “benefits waiver”.) Both unions are nearing the end of the bargaining impasse process when they can go on strike and UC can impose a contract.

The state budget is now expected to be $14.5 billion in the red.   Is there a solution for University of California employees?

UPTE’s research and technical workers had their first bargaining session last week. Whatever happens with CNA and AFSCME will have a significant impact on our contract.

UC already knows what the benefits plans will cost them in 2009 for all their plans except for Kaiser and Kaiser is the cheapest and will not increase much. The UC regents have also already decided to not begin any pension contributions prior to September 2009. This means that if CNA and AFSCME can resolve their bargaining demands for fair pay, safe staffing and other issues, there may be a solution for a short term contract through the end of 2009.

For the technical (TX) and research (RX) contract that we are negotiating, we need to separate our raises from the issue of what the state allocates for pay increaseds. Only a negligible fraction of our members are funded by state funds. Most of us are on federal grants or work in recharge facilities that get money from grants. We need to impress upon the regents, legislators and UC administrators that the traditional linkage of our pay to the state budget is outdated and unacceptable.

More than 150 members of UPTE-CWA from all over the state made a strong impression on UC bargainers by showing up at the first bargaining session. UC now knows we care about our pay, benefits and our contract. More actions will be following … join the fun and make yourself heard.

TX/RX Pay Increase Problems
UC has mistakenly not given the October, 2007 cost-of-living increase and January, 2008 step increase to hundreds of technical workers and researchers. UPTE-CWA has filed a grievance to force UC to fix the mistakes. If you believe that you have been denied your raise, please contact UPTE-CWA’s chief steward Cliff Fried.

CWA Bierne Scholarship
Our national union, the Communications Workers of America, has an annual college scholarship program for which all members can apply to. This program was established to commemorate the first President of CWA, Joe Bierne who had a life-long commitment to education. The program provides scholarships up to $3000. The applications are due by April 30, 2008. See the CWA website for the Bierne Scholarship Program.

Look Up Your Boss' Salary
The Sacramento Bee has set up a website shows the salary of all state employees, including the University of California. You can look up your boss, the chancellor and even yourself. The service is free. If you use it too many times they will ask you to register, but that is free too. I’m sure you won’t be able to resist looking up a couple of your favorite big wigs. The chancellor in San Diego, where I work, makes $369,875.01.

Livermore Skilled Trades Win A Union
Skilled trades workers at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab submitted a majority of signatures for a union back in June 2007 but UC and its new private partnership with Bechtel tried countless threats and legal tricks to avoid their obligation to recognize UPTE-CWA … all to no avail! After the National Labor Relations Board threatened UC/Bechtel with an injunction, they settled and agreed to start bargaining.

Our new skilled trades members are very concerned about their job security after management placed much of their future budget in a plan to develop reliable, renewable warheads that was politically and scientifically doomed. We want to ensure that any staff reductions respect seniority and that the lab seeks to keep as many as possible. There will be many other contract demands in this first ever contract for skilled trades at the lab.

More Healthcare Equity
Healthcare workers at all the medical centers will be meeting to propose additional equity increases for job titles that remain behind market pay rates. In response to equity demands in San Diego, UPTE-CWA has won massive pay increases when UC placed all employees on steps according to their years of experience, whether or not the experience was at UC.

Our members at the other medical centers have researched the market pay for their titles and will present the information to UC negotiators. If UC refuses to make equitable adjustments, we will mobilize our members to support our demands. Be on the look out for reports on how our meetings with management go.

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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.