UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: November 05, 2004

(1) TX & RX: Members Reject UC's Illegal Plan for No Raises in Exchange for 2 Days Off
(2) DOE Labs: LANL Employees Protected, LBNL Out for Bid
(3) Health Benefits: No Increases After UPTE Pressure
(4) UPTE Convention: Steps in Contract, Strike Fund

(1) TX & RX: Members Reject UC's Illegal Plan for No Raises in Exchange for 2 Days Off
In response to one-on-one and web polling, UPTE members have overwhelmingly rejected UC's demand that UPTE accept no raises this year and almost none next year, in return for 2 paid days off this year. At last week's bargaining session, UC put forward a new offer with the same result: no raises. The UC team asked UPTE to agree to a contract extension until March in return for the two paid days off. UC's motivation? It knows that UPTE would be hard-pressed to bargain a pay raise back to October 2004 if the contract were extended.

The legal obligation for UC to maintain the status quo after contract expiration provides us with leverage to get raises. Because the contract is now expired, the University must bargain reorganizations, work rule changes and schedule modifications (see http://www.upte.org/contractexpires.html for the details.) If you suspect any violations during this status quo period, contact UPTE immediately.

When the University closes campuses over the winter holiday break, it will force employees to stay off work. But with the contract expired, UC cannot force UPTE tech (TX) and research (RX) employees to take vacation for these days. If UC follows through with its threat to not give the days off to UPTE-represented employees, the union will file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the state Public Employment Relations Board, asking for all employees' vacation time back

(2) DOE Labs: LANL Employees Protected, LBNL Out for Bid
Ongoing UPTE lobbying efforts in Sacramento and Washington , DC have produced important protections for employees at Los Alamos , no matter who ends up running the lab. The acquisition plan recently released by the Department of Energy almost reads word-for-word like UPTE's legislative fact sheet (http://www.spse.org/UPTE FACT SHEET UC Contract.pdf) notes that all existing labor agreements will continue, and wages, benefits and retirement will remain unchanged.

While we support UC's continued management of the labs, we continue to have grave concerns about the existing culture of fear and retaliation. At the Los Alamos lab, Director Pete Nanos has hinted that hard-working employees, rather than managers, are responsible for problems like security failures and safety violations.

DOE has also released the first draft for the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab “request for proposals” (http://rfplbnl.sc.doe.gov), which is the first step in the bidding process.

(3) Health Benefits: No Cost Increases After UPTE Pressure
Last month, UPTE reported that working together with other UC unions, we had held the University to no increases for health benefits costs, with the exception of Pacific Care. Approximately, 25% of UPTE members are currently enrolled in Pacific Care.

But because the expiration of the TX and RX contracts, the University must maintain “status quo” benefits in those units, and could not legally increase Pacific Care for these employees (or for clerical employees represented by the Coalition of University Employees). Days before the open enrollment mailing, realizing the legal bind it was in, the University informed UPTE that it would not increase Pacific Care costs either. So now, we've stopped ALL increases to benefits costs this year.

For more information on decreasing costs of other benefits, as well as advice from UPTE on benefit choices, see our Joint Benefits Committee report at http://www.upte.org/benefits/

(4) UPTE Convention: Steps in Contract, Strike Fund
The 15 th UPTE-CWA Convention focused on the need for members to get a real pay system that provides step increases each year. Among many other resolutions passed, the delegates voted unanimously to insist that mandatory step increases be included in the TX and RX contracts currently under negotiation.

The University, erroneously claiming that the steps cost money, wants to give no wage increases. In anticipation of UC's unwillingness to change their position, the convention delegates voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to set up an UPTE strike fund.

The UPTE E-Bulletin is prepared by UPTE-CWA President Jelger Kalmijn for all members.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to write him at president@upte-cwa.org. If you wish to have dialogue with other members about UPTE-CWA issues, sign up for our web forum.