Union Builder Communicator: June 13, 2008

TX/RX Contracts Likely To Expire June 30
UPTE-CWA’s bargaining for new technical (TX) and researcher (RX) contracts has started slowly, with UC unwilling to make any commitments on money until after the state budget has been approved. UC also cancelled several of the most recent sessions because of its bargaining conflict with AFSCME, as UC is using the same chief negotiator for both sets of negotiations. Of the sessions held, our bargainers have had to address issues of harassment and workplace problems faced by our team members. Because of the lack of progress and problems UC has created for our team members, UPTE-CWA will most likely not extend our TX and RX contracts.

If the TX and RX contracts expire June 30, the university will be required to maintain the status quo for all working conditions until our members approve an agreement including raises and benefits protections. The university will be legally prohibited from making many changes, such as increasing parking and transportation fees, benefits costs, reorganizing the work place, changing shifts and many other changes. Please print out the bargaining unfair labor practice fact sheet for your reference.

Union members must help enforce this status quo by reporting any unilateral changes. UPTE-CWA stewards will work with our attorneys to file unfair labor practice charges with the Public Employment Labor Relations Board (PERB).

Two other major changes that will occur when our contract expires are that (1) UC must pay for all overtime worked and not provide comp time except with explicit approval from the union in each case, and (2) the union can no longer take grievances to arbitration but instead must go to PERB or use a university-implemented hearing process.

AFSCME Continues Fight for Fair Pay 
After UC stated that it had more to offer in negotiations, AFSCME converted the planned June 4 and 5 strike into workplace actions to pressure chancellors to support the union’s demands for fair pay. AFSCME greatly appreciated the many UPTE-CWA members who showed their support at these actions. AFSCME has focused on improving the wages for the nearly half of workers in the service and patient care units that make less than a $15/hour living wage.

UC seeks to divide service and patient care technical workers by making different wage offers, using the excuse that 25% of the service unit is funded by the state. UC refuses to put any guaranteed raises on the table for service workers. On benefits and pension issues, UC continues to insist on unilateral control over the costs and benefits.

AFSCME faces many of the same issues at the table as UPTE-CWA and we will continue to support its efforts for a fair contract.

CWA Stewards’ Army
We cannot rely solely on our legislative friends nor on union contracts to achieve the ambitious goals for which working people strive. We need to stay educated and active, from campaigns for real health care reform to our own contract negotiations. CWA, our national union, has initiated a program to build a Stewards Army. It will send out additional information on major campaigns and encourage union activists to participate in electronic pickets, legislative actions and other union activities.

UPTE-CWA will sign up all our union builders as members of the national union’s Stewards Army. If you are receiving this email, we consider you a union builder. If for some reason you do not wish to participate, please let us know.

Fighting Livermore Layoffs
The UPTE-CWA Livermore bargaining team convinced management to expedite the settling of a first contract for the new members in the skilled trades bargaining unit. In the midst of the layoffs of more than 1000 employees at the national lab (due to increased costs of running the now-privatized lab and federal budget cuts), our members are demanding fair and consistent job security for all. We oppose management using the layoffs as an opportunity to shift more work to contractors, or to arbitrarily get rid of employees they
don’t like.

The cut backs have begun to create serious health and safety concerns as there not enough personnel available to perform the usual preventative maintenance and follow all normal safety requirements. Legislators have already begun to pressure the lab to address the possibility of accidents that not only affect the employees, but also the surrounding community of Livermore.

Stewards Tip: Comp Time or Pay for Overtime Worked
Every June all employees in the TX, RX and HX units have the opportunity to choose whether they want to be paid for any overtime worked or receive compensatory time off. If you do not choose, the default is that you will be paid. Once you have chosen for the  year, that choice remains in effect unless you notify the your department that you wish to change your selection in the month of June. See the Overtime Compensation section of the Hours of Work article in the contracts for details: TX, RX, HX

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 employees as possible. There will be many other contract demands in this first-ever contract for skilled trades at the lab. Stay tuned for more.

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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.