UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: June 07, 2005

(1) Strike Nearly Brings Settlement … Then UC Digs In … Push for Steps Continues
(2) The Math
(3) Warning on Benefits
(4) CUE Sets Strike for June 13-15

(1) Strike Nearly Brings Settlement…Then UC Digs In…Push For Steps Continues

UC reacted to UPTE's strike announcement with a wage proposal that offered across-the-board raises that the union could accept. However, it only included step increases for 1/1/2008 and not for any other year. The University also continues to insist that it be empowered to change our benefits even after our contract expires, and that UPTE give up the right to honor other unions' picket lines. With step increases for a couple more years and an agreement on benefits and picket lines, we would have a viable agreement.

Since the strike, however, the University has decided to dig in during the last bargaining session and has retracted this pre-strike offer, putting a worse offer on the table. The University clearly does not want to admit that our strike was successful by settling shortly after, as they did in April with the AFSCME service workers. Additional bargaining dates are being scheduled for later this month and we will encourage UC to keep working toward a settlement.

UC will soon understand that our unfair labor practice strike is only one of many tactics we will employ to encourage settlement of our contract. We will publicize the threat to UC's research and educational mission caused by high staff turnover to Regents, students at graduation, scientific conferences and media outlets. We will push for audits by state and federal legislators in order to uncover what happens to undistributed turnover savings and merit funds. We will seek support among faculty and donors.

UPTE will be sending out strike benefits in the next couple weeks to all those who participated in the strike. Any member who experiences any negative impact from striking should contact UPTE immediately so that we can respond. We are already challenging several campuses' decisions to issue paper instead of electronic payroll checks.

Wear your “unity” button until we get a contract. Participate in the UPTE activities at your campus. These activities will help reach a contract settlement.

(2) The Math
The University continues to insist on inflating the cost of step increases by 0.6% for each year, and refuses to bargain over the 0.9% of turnover savings that UC accrues every year. That adds up to 1.5% of our salary money that the University pockets every year because of bad math. UPTE will soon be releasing an independent audit that supports our financial estimates. UC will need to explain to the legislature, granting agencies and UC employees what it has been doing with this salary money that is left over every year.

(3) Warning on Benefits
Labor Relations let slip that the University is considering gutting our benefits plans in the coming years. Separating staff benefits from executive and faculty benefits, and switching to the defined contribution plan that UC supposedly opposed, are both being evaluated for presentation to the Regents.

At the same time, the UC employees working at the Los Alamos lab -- and possibly soon the Livermore lab -- will be taken out of the UC retirement plan, pulling about a quarter of the funds with them.

While these changes have not yet been finalized, this explains why the University wants UPTE to allow them to change our benefits even after our contract expires.

(4) CUE Sets Strike For June 13-15
A few years ago, then-President Atkinson promised the legislature that UC was committed to better relations with staff. Despite the fact that UC has a funding compact with the governor stretching many years into the future, every union bargaining this year has had to resort to a strike for settlement. This is a remarkable deterioration of relations with staff, who have rarely gone on strike over the last 20 years.

Now, CUE, the union representing UC clerical workers, has announced that they will strike on June 13-15. More details on picket lines will be sent out when we get them.

Despite an independent fact finder's report stating that UC has the money for raises, and that clericals are paid far under market rate, UC refuses to give a wage increase to clericals for 2003/4.

The UPTE Executive Board encourages our members to support the CUE strike. Clerical workers are suffering from the same University policies that provide an abundance of money for executive pay raises and new buildings, but nothing for those of us who do the work. Please look for more details soon or call your UPTE local for strike activities on your campus.

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.