UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: February 13, 2006

(1) Health Care Professionals Overworked And Underpaid
(2) UC Begins Its Attack on Our Retirement
(3) Executive Pay and Perks Exposed
(4) Research and Technical Employees Add Up Their Raises
(5) Los Alamos Employees Cheated Out Of Pension and UC Employment

(1) Health Care Professional Overworked and Underpaid
The UPTE-CWA HX bargaining team submitted initial bargaining proposals demanding solutions to understaffing/overwork, pay inequities and more. The University must provide counter proposals by the end of February and bargaining will begin in March. The contract expires on June 30, 2006.

The bargaining surveys revealed that many health care professionals have an extremely difficult time scheduling vacation. Most medical centers also very punitive attendance policies that discipline employees to use the sick leave they have accumulated even when they or their family are legitimately sick. The case loads of social workers, the number of staff covering all the duties in the clinical labs or the pharmacy is often not enough. The staffing concerns not only stress us out but threaten to compromise the quality of health care we seek to provide.

The University's haphazard and often unfair pay plan has created many inequities. The zone pay system UPTE won in our last contract brought up the pay of many long term employees who were getting paid less than new hires but left other problems unaddressed. The nurses have a pay plan that places them on a step in their pay range according to their years of experience as nurse at UC and elsewhere. The University has also treated campus-funded HX employees differently than those funded by the hospital. While we were able to get some equity increases over the past years, many job titles remain underpaid compared to their counterparts outside UC or even within UC.

As our HX bargaining begins we will have meetings throughout the medical centers to get your input and participation in bargaining an even better contract. We encourage all members to put the "UPTE Healthcare" pin we will be distributing on their lab coat or badge lanyard. Keep track of the bargaining bulletins and other activity on our bargaining webpage (book mark it).

(2) UC Begins Its Attack On Our Retirement
UC has staked out its initial position regarding the funding of our retirement plan in the Benefits Brochure they sent out to all employees 2 weeks ago. The headline story announces that the retirement fund will drop below 100% funded some time in 2009 and that employees will have to make contributions to keep the fund solvent.

Working in coordination with other unions at UC, UPTE has engaged the University in discussions about this and other threatened cuts to our retirement benefits. While we have yet to receive much of the financial data we have requested, we have noted some worrisome facts:

  • UC plans to have special contributions to define contribution plans for executives and prestigious faculty.
  • While 73% of senior management are eligible for retirement, only 23% of staff are, even though UC is proposing we all equally pay into the program.
  • UC's estimate of an 8% employee contribution to the retirement plan would largely erase any raises we receive.

UC wants to implement their changes July 1, 2007. The new TX/RX contracts assures that UPTE has the right to bargain over all these changes. We strongly encourage all members to stay educated on these proposed cut backs so that you will be ready when the time comes to put pressure on the University.

(3)  UC Executive Pay and Perks Exposed
For years, while UC asked employees to tighten their belts and accept pay raises less than inflation, the top executives treated themselves to lavish expense accounts, home mortgages, special severance packages and raises larger than most of our salaries.

The San Francisco Chronicle has latched on to exposing these abuses by managers serving as custodians of the world's most premier academic institution. These abuses are not one time errors in judgment but rather a systematic policy of abuse.

Last week the California State Senate called UC President Dynes to Sacramento to explain the abuses and how the University plans to curb them. In an email to all staff Dynes described how he took responsibility for the scandal around the executive pay plan and he hoped that it would not affect staff morale. UPTE representatives made clear that the exposure of UC's long-running executive abuses that we have been talking about for years only bolsters staff morale that finally we may see some justice in the workplace that we are so dedicated to.

UPTE has testified that our members are paid under market levels and the perks provided to these executives and other UC reserves should be invested in retaining a quality work force and not just squandered on unaccountable executives.

(4)  Researchers And Technical Employees Add Up Their Raises
At building and department meetings around the state, UPTE members are calculating how much their pay will go up with 3 or more raises in the next 12 months. The raises from our contract will be effective October 1, 2005. We will see this in our pay checks no later than April 1 and we will get another check for the retroactive amount. If you attend one of these meetings or help set on up with your co-workers, we can help you calculate exactly what this means for you.
Contact our campus office to make arrangements.

The new contract also sets up committees to address hazardous work, pay inequity and parking/transportation issues. We are asking all members to fill out a survey identifying their concerns and input. If you have not yet had a chance to fill it out, you can now do so on our survey website . Let us know if you can help address these areas where we need more improvements.

(5)  Los Alamos Employees Cheated Out Of Pension And UC Employment
While UC managers celebrate winning the contract of the Los Alamos lab, the reality for the 10,000 employees is very different. Starting July 1, they will no longer be UC employees but will work for Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a partnership of UC, Bechtel, Washington Group and BWX.

The employees will no longer accrue service credit with UCRS. If they retire and lock in their retiree health benefits they lose their right to a job at the new employer. If they do not retire they have the choice of either having their public pension converted to a private "clone plan" or becoming an inactive UCRS member and being put into the new company's "market-driven plan."

This means that many of the employees that were nearing retirement age, now have decades of service credit on the chopping block. Nearly a 1000 employees, including many distinguished scientists have taken earlier than planned retirements for fear of losing what they have.

In addition to no longer being an active part of UCRS, the new employer will hire all workers as "at will" employees which means they can be fired without any justified reason, at any time.

While the workers suffer from these changes, UC will receive a management eight times as large as before the contract was put out to bid and the new director will have a salary 3 times that of his predecessor.

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.