FAQs

Q: What is UPTE?
A: UPTE stands for University Professional and Technical Employees. It is an organization made up of University of California employees who are working together to improve our working conditions. We are programmers, researchers, buyers, technicians, analysts, writers, and other UC employees working on the nine UC campuses, the five UC medical centers, and the Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

We were founded in 1990. In 1993, UPTE affiliated with the Communication Workers of America, a national union, in order to better organize and represent our members. That’s why our full name is UPTE-CWA Local 9119, AFL-CIO. Since then, we have successfully campaigned for collective bargaining rights and union contracts for over ten thousand UC employees.

Q: When is the Union coming to LANL?
A: WE ARE HERE! You can join today! Together we will continue to organize, talking with other co-workers to build support for our Union. OS, GS, Tech, TSM, SSM, Project Leaders, and Team Leaders can all join. Presently, UPTE’s membership dues are $20 per month. As we organize here at LANL, we keep and spend all of our dues on building our union and winning our organizing drive. When we have our contract in place, the dues will increase to a percentage dues rate with a cap — currently $35 for higher-paid employees and $25 for lower-paid employees.

Q: When are we going to have an election? 
A: We are in an organizing drive presently to identify support for the Union. Once that support is determined, committee members will ask co-workers to sign cards calling for an election. Once we have cards signed by a majority of a bargaining unit, we can call for a vote. The Public Employment Relations Board will conduct a secret ballot vote. If fifty percent plus one of those voting vote “yes,” we will have the right to elect a bargaining committee and negotiate a contract with UC.

Q: How do I get more information on UPTE and how to join? 
A: You can call our Local 1663 UPTE at 662-4679 or talk with someone you know who is already a member. If you did not receive our FAQ #1 and would like a copy, please call us at that number or email us at lanl@upte-cwa.org. We also have other informational materials available.

Q: Can UPTE represent me now in any meetings with management?
A: UPTE can represent its members in disciplinary actions taken by management or in grievance meetings called for by an employee. An UPTE representative can attend meetings with management and the employee regarding these and other issues. Having a witness and advocate can be a great help in disputes with management.

Q: What is UPTE’s position regarding the salary inequities among LANL workers?
A: UPTE met with LANL managers on July 3, 2000, to discuss its proposed salary policy. UPTE was appalled to learn that management is once again proposing a subjective scheme to allocate raises. UPTE opposes this method as it does nothing to help solve current salary inequities. Instead, UPTE proposed an objective system for allocating raises. Management flatly disagreed, saying that “it would not consider an algorithm.”

Q: I have heard that management is proposing quotas on scores on performance appraisals. Is this true? What is UPTE’s position on this? 
A: Management is proposing that all salaries be made to fit a bell curve within each division. This amounts to a quota system for raises. UPTE strongly opposes any quota system on raises.

Q: What is our recourse when management doesn’t listen to employees? 
A: UPTE is organizing to seek a Union Contract with LANL because management does not have to take suggestions from employee groups at this time. With a contract, management would have to negotiate with UPTE and salary policy would be a negotiable issue. In the meantime, UPTE will analyze management proposed policy changes and will publicize their effect on employees. We will bring up these issues in any public forum related to LANL employees. We plan to bring these issues up in our meeting with Jeremy Wu, DOE Ombudsman, on July 10, as well as with our congressional delegation and the California legislators who have taken an interest in LANL employees and their rights.

Q: What is UPTE’s position on polygraphs for LANL employees? 
A: On July 6, 2000, the UPTE membership unanimously adopted a resolution against polygraphing LANL employees as a condition of employment. UPTE has publicized issues regarding the accuracy of polygraphs for over a year and has spoken out against polygraphs in many forums.

Q: What will it take to win a union contract at LANL? 
A: It will take a lot of us, working together as an organizing committee — that is, employees from all buildings, departments, titles, classifications, ethnic groups, etc. — talking to their co-workers and bringing them to meetings to discuss how a union works and what benefits it can bring to a workforce.