Voices of UPTE
UPTE-CWA Local 9119 is comprised of thousands of University of California employees -- all individuals with stories to tell. Following are the words of Linda Segars, who works at UC Berkeley. She began work at UC in 1979 as an AA-II and is now a Student Affairs Officer in the College of Engineering . Linda was a founding member of UPTE and is now preparing to retire from UC.
I was one of the founding members of UPTE because I agreed with my friends that we needed an active Union behind us. We needed protection and representation. Justice and fair treatment have always been tops on my priority list.
During my years in the Union I have made some wonderful friends. They are the most sincere, principled and loving people I have ever met. I feel lucky to know them and work with them. I've discovered that if you want to find the hardest working people on earth, they are in the Unions working to make things better for everyone. These people know what brotherhood and sisterhood means.
I did not know about unions before I moved to California (from Florida ) and worked at a job covered by the Waitress and Bartenders union in Oakland . I had dental insurance and health insurance for the first time in my life. I was thrilled.
When I came to work at the University I discovered that the Unions offered dental insurance when the University did not. I suppose there are some people who think the University gives us benefits out of the goodness of their hearts. Yeah sure!
I know that Unions are constantly meeting with the University to push for improvements in our working conditions. There is never enough time to keep members up-to-date on all the work that is done on their behalf. But it's happening all the time and the Union doesn't always get its proper credit. The University has propaganda publications ready to take the credit. In fact they have whole departments dedicated to doing that.
I'm about to retire from UC and I am reminded that Molly Ivans said something like, “Most people don't realize that though Unions only represent 25% of the workers in America, all workers enjoy benefits as a result of their sacrifice and perseverance. And if they aren't careful they will lose them by their passive fear of becoming involved.” (Sorry I don't remember the exact words or where I saw them.) But those words ring true to me. Join the union and get involved.
Student Affairs Officers – What's Happening At YOUR Worksite?
Years of budget cuts, wage freezes, layoffs, retirements, and enrollment increases have affected the way SAO's (Student Advisors) do their work. It's not unusual for SAO's to work evenings and weekends at peak times of the year. And a common complaint from SAO's is that they're no longer able to give adequate attention to individual students. SAO's, like many other employees, are being asked to do more with less.
UPTE wants to hear your stories. Has the number of students that you advise increased? Has the number of student advisors decreased? Have additional duties been added to your job? Is deferred maintenance affecting your job? Let's share our information and see if there's a way we can address these issues together. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Steps in 99 Organizing:
What should the “unit” look like?
Since the loss of the AP representation election in March, 2004, UPTE 99 members have been analyzing the reasons why UC's 12,000 administrative professional employees voted against union representation. This analysis is necessary for us determine where we go next. Two reasons for the election outcome may be that (a) the unit was too large and (b) it encompassed too many job titles that are perceived as dissimilar.
We know that there was a stronger pro-union vote in certain classifications and it may make sense for us to work with those employees on another union drive. This would mean that the next representation election for UC's staff professionals would be for a smaller, more homogeneous group of employees.
A new option available to employees at UC is called “card check.” It is the result of legislation passed in 2003 affecting higher education employees. It says that, if 50% of employees in a bargaining unit sign cards saying that they want to be represented by a union (have the right to bargain a contract with their employer), the employer MUST recognize that union as the legal representative of the employees. This means that an election is not necessary. This is a new right that UC employees did not have access to in the previous election.
The 99 organizing steering committee discusses issues like these in its monthly conference calls. If you'd like to join in, the calls are on the second Thursday of each month at 7 pm. Call the UPTE systemwide office at (510) 704-8783 to obtain access information.
Important Change in Workers' Comp Law
Starting January 1, 2005, if you are injured on the job, you will have to pick from a pool of doctors who belong to tightly controlled physician networks organized by employers and their insurers. That is, unless you “predesignate” your physician. Even if you have previously completed such a form, do it again because the laws have changed. The physician must agree to be predesignated, have previously treated you, and be in possession of your medical records. Fill out the form at <http://www.upte.org/designating_a_physician> and send it in -- with your doctor's signature if possible to protect you from any changes that may arise around the interpretation of the new workers' comp law. Give it to your departmental human resources manager, and keep a copy for yourself.
New Year's Resolution: Join the Union!
UPTE does not yet have the right to bargain a contract for UC's staff administrative professional employees, but these employees can join the hundreds of their co-workers who have chosen to join UPTE. Dues for members without a contract are $20 per month. Dues are payable by payroll deduction and are tax deductible if you itemize.
To fill out a membership application, go to http://www.upte.org/join/
Member benefits include the right to vote in UPTE to help determine the direction of the union as well as access to the AFL-CIO's union benefits (discounts, insurance plans, credit cards, etc.) Joining UPTE also puts you in touch with others who are interested in their working lives and are willing to step up to the plate to do something about it.
We Wish You a Happy Holiday Season With Hope for Peace in the New Year!