UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: September 26, 2005

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(1) UPTE Pushes UC To Agree To 90% of Contract, Member Solidarity Will Win the Day
(2) Labor Board and Legislators Agree: UC Must Stop Breaking the Law
(3) Health Care Professionals Set Priorities
(4) UC Executive Raises Greater Than Our Salaries

(1) UPTE Pushes UC to Agree to 90% of Contract, Member Solidarity Will Win the Day

UPTE has come to agreement with UC on an almost entirely new tech/researcher (TX/RX) contract. Key features include overall raises greater than those promised by the governor in his funding compact with UC, as well as step increases, modest improvements in health and safety and training time and more. The UPTE strike in May brought an additional 1% into the pay increase for a step pay plan. In the last round, UC finally stopped its efforts to weaken our layoff protections and our ability to limit benefits costs increases. Even though there is still one outstanding issue on the table, UPTE members will likely get their raises and the new contract improvements have been locked in.

The final sticking point is UC's attempt to undermine our constitutional right to free speech in our support of other unions' picket lines by requiring a “no sympathy strikes” clause in the contract. The ability to stand together with other UC employees, who share our concerns about pay, benefits, retirement and more, is essential if we are to succeed in the future. On the issue of free speech rights, UPTE has proposed removing all other issues from the bargaining table, and taking UC's “no sympathy strikes” demand to a mediator. The University has agreed to this demand.

In addition to our strike in May, UPTE members have:

  • Handed out thousands of "support quality research” flyers at scientific conferences, the UC Merced grand opening and numerous other University public events.
  • Made hundreds of phone calls and emails to President Dynes to urge him to stop holding our raises hostage to giving up our First Amendment rights.
  • Contacted dozens of state legislators to urge them to send a strong message to Dynes to settle the contract.
  • Held a rally at UC Berkeley, where UPTE and other union members wore gags to symbolize UC's gagging of our free speech rights.
  • Held a funeral procession to mourn the loss of free speech at UC Irvine.
  • Recruited several hundreds of new members who joined in demanding that UC give step increases.

All of these activities have gotten us 90% of the way there in settling our contract. If you haven't yet lent your voice to this battle, please go to http://www.upte.org/dynes.html to send a message to President Dynes asking him to remove UC's outrageous anti-free speech proposal from the table. Post a free speech flyer in your workplace.

One way or another, UPTE members will prevail and retain their rights. Either UC will give up on trying to strip us of our rights and sign a contract, or UC will try to impose our agreed upon contract terms and have no right to impose a ban on any strikes at all. Either way UPTE members will be able to stand in support of health care employees, nurses, clericals and academic student employees, and not fear losing their jobs for expressing their constitutional rights.

The only downside is that if the University chooses the latter course and refuses to sign a contract, we will lose the right to arbitrate grievances. While few workplace issues go to arbitration, when they do it is usually important. To fight back if we do lose this right, we will organize our members, legislators and the labor board to support any member that is treated improperly.

(2) The Labor Board and Legislators Agree: UC Must Stop Breaking the Law
The state labor board, PERB, has issued another unfair labor complaint against UC to bring the current total to five. The board determined that the charges UPTE filed over UC's bad faith bargaining, failure to provide relevant information and unilateral changes are violations of the law. UPTE will now have an opportunity to prove the charges before a judge.

Legislators from all over the state have been appalled by UC's illegal activity and its hardened determination to deny employees constitutional rights. Jack O'Connell , the State Superintendent of Schools, said it clearly to UPTE President Jelger Kalmijn: “I have never crossed a picket line.” Assembly member Gloria Romero picked up the phone while in China to call UC President Dynes (who refused to take the call) and express her displeasure. The chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, John Laird will also be calling Dynes. Many other legislators who make decisions about UC's budget have weighed in. Senator Jackie Speier has called a special on-site hearing about UC labor relations to take place at the UC Riverside campus on October 5. Contact your UPTE office to sign up to attend.

(3)  Health Care Professionals Set Priorities
Health care professional members of UPTE have filled out bargaining surveys all over the state. A fairer pay system that brings their salaries to market rates, compensation for bilingual work, and concerns about benefits and retirement all ranked high on the survey. UPTE's bargaining conference will weigh the results from the survey and make strategic decisions to set priorities.

First and foremost, we aim to have all represented employees informed and talking about what they want out of the bargaining process. UPTE's Vital Signs newsletters, departmental and individual meetings, and tables in the cafeterias are all part of our intensive effort to reach everyone. If we have not had the opportunity to speak with you yet, let us know. We can arrange a meeting in your workplace and bring membership forms for all the non-members.

Our contract expires June 20, 2006 and formal bargaining will begin early next year.

(4)  UC Executive Pay Raises Larger Than Our Salaries
The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that the same UC executives who are holding our modest raises hostage and insisting that UPTE members forfeit our free speech rights have been out fundraising -- for themselves! At a time when student fees have skyrocketed and UC admits staff wages lag 10% to 20%, they are asking that private donors help increase the “meager” salaries of executives who make over $350,000 a year.

It is outrageous that UC executives would ask for raises that are larger than most UPTE members' salaries. UPTE will work with the other UC unions to oppose this blatant money grab by these out of touch UC executives. We plan on letting state legislators know of our strong opposition to their greed.

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.