Union Builder Communicator: September 08, 2008

State Budget Fight Continues & UC Begins Layoffs
Health care providers, schools, and countless other public services are on the verge of financial collapse due to the governor’s order to stop all payments to state contractors until the budget is passed. At UC San Diego, administrators have followed through on UC President Yudof’s instruction to immediately commence layoffs for state contracts by releasing social workers that work for the state prisons to transition released inmates with psychological and physical handicaps back into society. UPTE-CWA has sent protest letters to Chancellor Fox, faculty and the media, as our members make plans to take their kids out of daycare, give notice on their rented homes and other drastic financial measures.

Republican lawmakers have taken advantage of this economic crisis in the state to target countless health, education and other service programs for cuts. Over the weekend, Republicans once again raised their proposal to eliminate the 8-hour work day as well as state-mandated meal and break periods. The California Federation of Labor has set up a website to protest this proposal, which would bring us back to nineteenth century labor conditions. As the budget requires a two-third’s approval from the legislature, this ideologically driven minority can hold the state hostage.

Governor Schwarzenegger needs to focus on bringing Republican lawmakers to a budget compromise instead of cutting critical state services and lambasting lawmakers for the impasse. From this point on, not only do our members face their loss of employment, but many of the most vulnerable and needy Californians will be cut off with unavoidably disastrous consequences.

UPTE Defends Team Member While Pushing for Progress in TX/RX Bargaining
At the bargaining session next week, the UPTE bargaining team will submit most of the rest of our comprehensive proposal. Meanwhile, UC has yet to respond to any of our articles, refuses to provide information we need for the preparation of our proposals, and worst of all, has targeted at least one bargainer.

UC continues to maintain its position that our wage increases must be conditioned on what happens with the state budget, even though less than 10% of UPTE’s techs (TX) and researchers (RX) are paid from state funds. This means that UC will most likely be proposing a 0% pay increase. From UC’s current negotiations with the California Nurses Association, we have learned that UC wants a 12% of payroll contribution to the pension plan starting July 1, 2009 and that it refuses to say how much health benefits will cost in 2009. This adds up to a pay cut even before we factor in the increased cost-of-living we are all experiencing.

Instead of keeping the focus on developing a fair compensation proposal that UC can afford, UC has forced UPTE to defend our second UC Berkeley bargainer from retaliation for participation in the bargaining process. UC Labor Relations continues to insist that the faculty members or organizational unit where an UPTE bargainer is employed must continue to pay for their salary even when they are in bargaining. UPTE is filing an unfair labor practice charge with the state labor board arguing that the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley retaliated against UPTE bargainer Paul Haller by laying him off. A simple solution would be to set up a separate administrative fund to cover these costs – but UC rejected that. After spirited public actions and legal challenges, Paul Haller has gotten another job at UC Berkeley, but he will not be able to continue as the UPTE bargainer.

Expired Contract Pushes Back Parking Fee Increases
Once our TX/RX contracts expire, the university is obligated to maintain the “status quo” until negotiations for a new contract end. That means UC cannot raise fees such as our parking. Despite making initial announcements that parking rates would go up at Berkeley and other campuses, UC was forced to back off these proposals, so there will be no fee increases for UPTE TX/RX or anyone else. UC has increased the vanpool and daily parking rates at some campuses and the union is challenging this as a violation of the “status quo.”

Keep your eyes open for any other “status quo” violations. We will file an unfair labor charge with the board to stop implementation. You can get a complete description of the process and examples of other violations of the status quo on our Bargaining Unfair Labor Practice Fact Sheet.

AFSCME Members Motivated to Press on with Demands for Fair Pay
The university continues to promise AFSCME service and patient care technical workers that it has more to offer, but when UC comes to the bargaining table there is no change on the most important issues: a real pay increase, and controls on benefits and pension costs.

AFSCME members remain indignant and mobilized, and will continue to push UC until a fair contract offer is on the table. As students come back for fall, AFSCME will gear up its actions again. UPTE supports AFSCME’s demands and strongly encourages members to come out and participate in AFSCME events. Not only do the service and patient care technical deserve a decent raise, whatever they get will have a great impact on what we can get.

Single Payer Health Care Bill Passes Legislature and Goes to Governor’s Desk
The California legislature has once again passed landmark health care reform that is basically “Medicare for all.” Everyone would be covered, we would have the freedom to choose our physicians, and it would be cheaper than our current system.

The governor has in the past opposed this kind of reform and so needs to hear our support for this opportunity to solve our health care crisis. Call his office today and let him know you support single payer health care, S.B. 840 authored by Sheila Kuhl.

For more information on this bill and other health care basics, review UPTE’s primer on health care.

UPTE-CWA Election Results
The systemwide Election Committee met on Saturday September 6, 2008 at the systemwide office in Berkeley for purposes of tallying the ballots for UPTE systemwide officers, and hereby issues its tentative certification of the election results.

A total of 589 valid ballots were counted, with three observers present for part or all of the time.  A total of 37 ballots that were received by the deadline were deemed to be ineligible or void.  The results of the vote tally of the valid ballots are as follows:

  • PRESIDENT: Jelger Kalmijn - 407; John Spring - 160.
  • EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: Kevin Rooney (unopposed) - 531.
  • VICE PRESIDENT: Lisa Kermish (unopposed) - 518.
  • SECRETARY: Wendi Felson - 408; Rodney Orr - 171.
  • TREASURER: Elizabeth Wilks (unopposed) - 539.

Any challenge to the conduct of this election must be filed with the Election Committee WITHIN TEN DAYS of this notice.  The written notice must be specific as to the provisions of the UPTE-CWA election code that are alleged to have been violated.  The Election Committee shall rule on any such challenges and shall, within 20 days of this notice, make a final determination or certification.

Stewards Tip: UC Must Follow Law That Protects Victims of Sexual/Domestic Assault
When an employee's physician diagnoses disability and prescribes workplace accommodation which includes a reduced work-week, often an employee has insufficient sick leave, vacation leave, or family/medical leave to protect their job. The California Labor Code specifically provides victims of sexual/domestic assault with job protection.

In a recent case, UC San Francisco’s campus human resources department claimed that UC did not have to comply with state labor law and therefore would not provide this law's protections.

UCSF’s disability manager, in conjunction with the campus’ director of Center for Gender Equity (whom UPTE contacted; each campus has one) was able to obtain an unpaid leave for the duration of the physician's requested accommodation. See our Steward’s Tips website for more details on this issue and the case that brought it to our attention.

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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.