UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: April 19, 2006

Send an email to your legislator to demand accountability for our pensions and wages


(1) The Pension Fight Is On and UC Unions Are Prepared
(2) HX Bargaining Starts, Come and Visit
(3) UPTE Stands Up For Los Alamos Pensions and Job Security, Some Progress
(4) Hold UC Accountable -- From Executive Pay To My Pay

(1) The Pension Fight Is On And UC Unions Are Prepared
The regents took their first step towards retirement changes in March, approving restarting contributions to the pension fund on July 1, 2007 to keep it 95% to 110% funded. The University cannot unilaterally impose any changes on unionized employees.

UPTE's technical (TX) and researcher (RX) contracts extend to June of 2008, and we will reject any effort by UC to cut into the wage increases we won by mandating a pension contribution. UPTE's health care professional (HX) contract expires June 30 this year, but if we hold off changes for TX/RX, we should do the same for HX.

Prior to the regents' meeting of May 16-18, union members are mobilizing to make clear that we oppose any precipitous changes for non-union represented employees that could set a precedent for others. UPTE and all the other UC unions are circulating a "Save our Benefits" petition to be presented to the regents at this meeting. Please print out the petition and ask your co-workers to sign it, or you can sign it on-line . Also, let Sacramento legislators know you demand accountability and want them to tell UC to hold off on making any changes to our pension plan.

In early April, the UC Union Coalition held a joint Benefits Teach-Ins in both northern and southern California to give our campus activists and leaders a comprehensive picture of what UC is proposing for pension and benefits, as well as the national context which is playing out across the country, from New York 's subway workers to California 's teachers. You can see the educational materials presented at the teach-ins on our website.

With UC's proposals to make changes to our pension, our retiree health benefits and our employee health benefits, we need to have an overall solution that defends both what we take home each month now and that preserves our retirement security. When UPTE bargains our next contracts, we will need a comprehensive compensation plan that takes into account our wage increases, benefits, parking and our pension, and doesn't let UC make piecemeal cuts into each of these.

(2) HX Bargaining Begins, Come and Visit
UPTE's bargaining team begins negotiations for a new contract for our 2,400 health care professionals this month. Demands for fair and equitable pay, reasonable staffing and defending our pension and benefits will be our priorities. We encourage members to stop by and observe negotiations. Here are the first three scheduled sessions:

  • UC Office of the President: April 24-26
  • UC San Francisco: May 8-10
  • UC Irvine: May 16-18

Contact your bargainer or UPTE chapter to coordinate your attendance.

UC health care professionals across the state are making sure we sign up anyone who has not yet become a member. Also, show your support for successful and speedy negotiations by wearing your UPTE health care enamel pin.

You can stay up to date on our negotiations by bookmarking our HX bargaining page and checking it regularly. The team will post bargaining reports.

(3)  UPTE Stands Up for Los Alamos Pensions and Job Security, Some Progress
On May 31, 2006, more than 10,000 UC employees at the Los Alamos will be severed from UC employment.

They must choose whether to accept a job with a private company, Los Alamos National Security (LANS), of which UC has 50% ownership. If they do so, they must choose whether to transfer their vested retiree benefits to the new company, or freeze their UC benefits and start over at the new company under a much inferior retirement plan. For those who freeze their UC benefits or retiree with them, UC has announced that it will spin-off the Los Alamos pension fund from the main pension. UC has not made clear how it intends to keep such a spin-off fund viable when there are no actively participating employees and UC no longer has a contract with the Department of Energy to make contributions. For those employees who do accept a job with the private company, they will have no job security and can be fired without cause at any time as ?at will? workers.

UPTE has lobbied legislators in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, and is filing a lawsuit to improve LANL pensions and job security. We have won a concession that employees who freeze their UC pension and accept a job at LANS can retire immediately after beginning work for their new employer, and thus receive their UC retiree health benefits. Also, employees who had a period of retirement and then came back to work are now eligible to transfer to LANS, whereas before they were being forced to retire permanently.

We still want much more information about the retirement options so that our members can make an informed choice. The union is demanding from the new employer that it provide employees with the same job security they have at UC, and that it provide the same rights to unions as currently exist.

(4)  Hold UC Accountable -- From Executive Pay to My Pay
Over the past few months, the San Francisco Chronicle has run a series of articles exposing UC executive perks from secret deferred compensation to personal dog runs. State legislators held two investigative hearings, asking UC officials hard questions about executive pay practices. These UC administrators, who in recent years asked us to tighten our belts, have shown no fiscal constraint of their own.

But we can't stop the investigation with their perks. UPTE has demanded that UC be held accountable for the money it receives for our salaries from the state and federal government. For years, UC has diverted turnover savings away from our raises, cutting into average pay of employees by 0.5% to 1.5% a year. Our new TX/RX contract recaptures some of that money, but there is more.

UPTE is working with state and federal legislators to audit the UC's wage money. Let these legislators know that you demand accountability for our wages and pension by sending them an automatic email . Another hearing will take place in Sacramento on April 21 at 1:30 pm. You can attend by contacting the UPTE Legislative Coordinator or get the highlights afterwards.

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.