UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: September 02, 2005

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(1) Contract Now! Bargaining For Our Collective Strength
(2) Health Care Bargaining Surveys Due
(3) Division in the AFL-CIO

(1) Contract Now! Bargaining For Our Collective Strength
Working together as UC employees for our collective well being has never been more important to us. The University continues to pay under-market wages to nearly all its employees. Now, UC has dramatic plans to increase our health benefits premium to over $325/month, cut benefits for retirees, force payments to retirements out of current pay, and completely abandon our current retirement plan for new employees. UPTE will be fighting these take backs and will need everyone's support and participation.

In researcher and tech bargaining, we have worked through some of the difficult issues surrounding compensation, and can come to an agreement that includes the governor's compact money and step increases for several years. But there is one big sticking point. The University is holding up the contract by demanding we give up our constitutional right to respect the workplace actions of other UC unions. This fundamental right is based on First Amendment guarantees of free speech. If the nurses or service workers go on strike to defend their right to a pension and affordable benefits, the University wants to be able to discipline or fire us for respecting their picket lines. UC realizes how powerful it is when we act on our consciences and stand in solidarity with each other. It wants to divide us so it can begin to take away the benefits that have kept us at UC. Will we stand together or fall separately?

We want your opinion! Please fill out online the UPTE bargaining poll.

You can also take action to pressure UC to back off on its attempt to eviscerate our free speech rights:

(2) Health Care Bargaining Surveys Due
UPTE is now setting priorities for upcoming negotiations for the two thousand health care professionals we represent at UC medical centers and student health centers. Union members from all over the state are distributing surveys that need to be handed in no later than September 9. What should our top priorities be this year? We want the opinion of all members. Non-members may join at the time they complete the survey for their opinions to be counted.

The main issues raised so far include:

  • What kind of pay system do we want? Zones or Steps? See UPTE's Vital Signs #1 for more information.
  • How important is it ensure adequate staffing?
  • Benefits and retirement costs and coverage.

If you are not yet a member, joining the union sends a clear message to UC about how important these negotiations are to you. If you are a member, please make sure your coworkers have joined the union too. By joining, at no extra cost, you get a voice in your future!

(3)  Division in the AFL-CIO
You have no doubt heard in the news that there have been internal disagreements in the AFL-CIO, the federation of unions in the US . UPTE is affiliated the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which is in turn a member of the AFL-CIO . Unions have differences about how to turn around the decline in the percentage of union members in the US workforce. The unions that have left the AFL-CIO believe that larger, more concentrated unions may be more effective at winning advances for working people. Many other unions that have remained in the AFL-CIO, such as CWA, advocate more member participation, in addition to coordination of bargaining strategies and continued intensive organizing to bring more workers into unions. There are many variations and different motives on both sides of the debate.

UPTE will continue to work together with all labor organizations -- inside and outside of the AFL-CIO -- for our collective benefit. The decision of a few leaders of unions in Washington, DC to split from the AFL-CIO will not deter us from working together to stop the assault on our retirement, as well as advocate for interests by defeating anti-worker measures like Proposition 75, part of the governor's agenda in the upcoming special election. The assault on workers rights, from ergonomics to family medical leave and retirement, makes this a crucial time for us to stick together.

For more details about bargaining, read the latest bargaining report.

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.