UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: March 11, 2005

(1) Pledge to Strike for a Career (Action Requested)
(2) Let Your Faculty or Supervisor Know What is Going On (Action Requested)
(3) Executive Pay Increases Exposed
(4) Schwarzenegger Attacks UC Retirement Plan
(5) Tips for Members: Get Your Two Days Off, Get Your Training

(1) Pledge to Strike for a Career
After nearly a year of bargaining, UC refuses to put forward a definite wage proposal or make a commitment to distribute the money it receives for RX (researcher) and TX (tech) wages. In response, UPTE members are signing pledges to strike to let UC know we need raises that provide for a career track instead of encouragement to leave. Once a sufficient number of pledges have been signed, UPTE will conduct a strike authorization vote among all RX and TX members. If you have not already done so, sign your pledge card on-line .

AFSCME and CUE, representing the service and clerical workers respectively, are also making preparations to strike, since UC refuses to seriously engage in wage negotiations with them as well. AFSCME, CUE and UPTE have made a commitment to work together. Other UC unions have also pledged to participate in any workplace actions.

The University wage offer includes no raises for 2004/05. For subsequent years, its offer remains dependent on legislative approval, even though over 80% of TX and RX employees are not paid out of state funds. UC also insists on deducting from our across-the-board cost-of-living (COLA) increase to pay for step increases, and it continues to divert to other purposes all savings from staff turnover and vacancies. UPTE has made offers to settle the entire contract for three years based on annual step increases with a reasonable cost-of-living adjustment, a proposal that the University has said it can afford.

Many other actions are planned to put pressure on UC, such as informational pickets, legislative hearings and the distribution of flyers at UC events. Your participation will make these events successful. Each UPTE local sends out emails and fliers announcing actions, so please get on your local's list and stay in touch.

(2) Let Your Faculty or Supervisor Know What is Going On
Most faculty and supervisors support our demand for decent pay increases, but they are not fully aware of how the University administration stalls in negotiations. We will be sending a letter to science faculty members at each campus and hope that you will sign it. If loyal staff sign the letter, it will send a message that we are united in our desire for a decent pay increase. Please read the letter and add your name via this web form . There is also a sample faculty/supervisor information letter which you can download from our website to hand to your supervisor.

(3) Executive Pay Increases Exposed
Last October, UC President Dynes approved executive pay increases totaling $2.4 billion to 65 top executives at its five teaching hospitals, with 11 administrators receiving more than $50,000 each. Examples include a raise of $79,495 for UCSF CEO Mark Laret, as well as the new chancellor at UC San Diego, who makes $70,000 more than former chancellor Dynes did before he was promoted to UC president. In an open forum at UCSD, Dynes explained the raise by saying UC cannot “compromise on quality.” The new chancellor at UCSD certainly comes with impressive credentials, and UCSF's Laret has set the hospital back on course after the failed merger with Stanford. They, however, are not the only quality employees at the University of California .

Recent San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times articles exposed these pay increases. Separately, an independent fact-finder's post-impasse report concluded that UC could and should provide increases for underpaid clerical employees. A National Economic Development and Law Center study presents data on how many UC employees do not make enough money to meet the basic needs for even one individual, let alone a family. In contrast, UC's bonus plan for executives provides supplemental pay of up to 20% of base pay for meeting or exceeding performance standards. UPTE and other UC unions will be raising these pay policies and lack of accountability before state legislators, the Regents, donors and other audiences.

(4) Governor Attacks UC Retirement Plan
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has launched a major campaign to outlaw “defined benefit” plans, such as UCRS and PERS, for all public employees in California . Together with Assemblymember Richman from Northridge, he has proposed a constitutional amendment requiring public employers to provide only “defined contribution” plans like a 401(k).

While defined benefit plans rely on the pooled purchasing power of millions, defined contribution plans like 401Ks are individually-based. Under a defined contribution plan, the University caps its contribution to your retirement, and then you either select how to invest your funds or pull them out to use for other purposes. With the volatile stock market and underpaid employees constantly in need of extra money just to make ends meet, many UC employees will end up with little or no retirement funds.

The proposal would apply to workers hired in 2007 and after, but it would affect all of us dramatically. Current employees would be encouraged to move money out of their retirement plans into the new defined contribution plan. The defined benefit plans for those who have retired or were hired before 2007 would not have any new participants and would dwindle in funding with no new participants. UC and other public agencies have used defined benefit retirement plans as a recruitment incentive for jobs that generally pay less than those in the private sector. The amendment would make public employment less attractive and generate revolving door jobs.

Unions including those representing teachers, state workers and many others will join with UC unions to protect our retirement plan. Please stay informed and be prepared to take action.

(5) Tips For Members: Get Your Two Days Off, Get Your Training
Two Days Off: All research employees have until the end of March to take their two paid administrative days off. If you have not done so and didn't use the days off during the December holiday break, you need to make arrangements this month. If you have been denied use of these days off, please contact your UPTE representative so that we can work on a remedy.

Training : UPTE has negotiated 40 hours paid training time per year for all TX and RX employees. UPTE members are eligible for a two-thirds fee reduction for UC classes. Many additional training classes are often provided free of charge, or the cost can be covered with your department's or lab's funds. If you have difficulty getting approval for training time, an UPTE representative can assist you. See the TX , RX , or HX contract for more information.

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.