UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: July 21, 2006

(1) UC's Pension Numbers Do Not Add Up, Unions Go To Regents
(2) HX: Healthcare Professional Bargainers Demand Fair Pay
(3) TX/RX: Lab Assistant I/II raises and SRA I reclasses
(4) CWA Votes Change for the Future

(1) UC's Pension Numbers Do Not Add Up, Unions Go To Regents
The UC Union Coalition has hired our own actuaries to assess the need to begin contributions to the pension fund. These actuaries, Venuti Associates, conclude that "UC has not justified the need to restart contributions at this time."

The actuaries report that UC has made unjustifiably conservative estimates:

  • UC assumes that inflation will be 4%, but in the last 5 and 10 years it has been 2.55% and 2.51%, respectively
  • UC assumes that our raises average 4.9% to 6.5%, but we all know that has not been
    the case
  • UC assumes a 7.5% rate of return for the fund, but over the last 20 years this has averaged 12.3% and in a recent 9 month period it was 8.52%

Even a 1% difference on any of these assumptions has a profound effect on any conclusion that employees must start making contributions in 2007.

Not only has UC made overly conservative assumptions, they have not even performed the industry standard evaluations that would normally accompany any major change in funding such as re-starting contributions. Among these deficits are:

  • UC has not performed up to date studies and based their conclusion primarily on 3 year
    old data
  • UC had not requested the industry standard studies to evaluate alternative scenarios and has instead just made worst case assumptions
  • UC has not accounted for the effect of removing nearly 10,000 Los Alamos employees from the pension fund

This lack of a thorough review leads the actuaries to conclude that, "we believe that the Regents, as fiduciaries of the $42 billion UCRP, have not had the benefit of projections and analyses that would constitute best practices for making this type of decision."

UC's only response to these challenges is that "to introduce many variables into the analysis that would unnecessarily complicate the picture."

Members of UPTE-CWA and other unions brought the uncomplicated message to the Regents meeting this week that we want them to back off any plans to restart the pension contributions in 2007. All across the state, members are wearing their "hands off our pension" buttons. If you have not gotten a button yet, get one from your local UPTE-CWA activists.

(2) HX: Healthcare Professionals Demand Fair Pay
The UPTE-CWA healthcare professional bargaining team presented UC with a comprehensive pay plan this week that includes:

  • Regular step increases based on years of experience
  • Cost-of-living adjustments for both our salaries and the salary ranges
  • Market adjustments for salary ranges
  • Annual bargaining for additional market adjustments
  • Equity across the medical centers throughout the state

Such a new step system will allow long term employees to move up through the range and make sure that topped-out employees receive at least the cost-of-living increase. The current system stagnates all wages until UC has a hiring crisis and then they give equity increases to a select few. Fair raises for everyone will give employees predictable and equitable raises.

Members at all the medical centers are signing a petition to the medical center CEO's requesting their support for fair pay and pension protection. Healthcare professionals should take 5 minutes out of their busy days to arrange signing the petition. We will deliver the petition to the CEO's in early August.

(3)  TX/RX: Lab Assistant I/II Raises And SRA I Reclasses
As part of our ongoing effort to raise the wages of some of the lowest paid, the equity increases for lab assistants I/II, scene techs, ad projectionists went into effect on July 1. The raises are generally 2% but some are higher. You can review the details in our contract summary. The lab assistant title is by far the most populous title in the technical unit with nearly 1000 employees.

In addition, our contract (article 41, section E.1.e) demands that staff research associate I's be reviewed for reclassification to SRA II if they have at least two years of good performance. The SRA I title is described by UC as an entry level title and we believe that everyone that is reviewed should receive the promotion. We are working with SRA I's to collect signatures for a petition to human resources that everyone be reclassed. If you are an SRA I, please contact your local UPTE-CWA to help ensure you can get your promotion.

(4)  CWA Votes Change for the Future
Our national union voted to address challenges for the labor movement head on by creating a new strategic industry fund. With factories moving out of the US , companies moving work to non-union contractors and very difficult bargaining on not only wages but issues such as pensions and benefits, unions need to change their tactics. Just continuing on as we have for the past decades will mean a steady decline and loss of power.

The strategic industry fund will be used to support major bargaining initiatives and campaigns to bring in new members. From organizing the wireless phone industry in which only Cingular is union to protecting the pensions of employees at the University of California , this fund will provide the extra resources so that we can win. The money will be used to augment the efforts of locals and the national and will not be used to pay for regular staffing and organizational needs. The fund will be created by redirecting contributions to the strike fund as long as the strike fund balance is at least $370 million.

UPTE-CWA members voted a couple of months ago to pay into the CWA strike fund as part of our dues change. When we begin paying in 2009, we will also be eligible for resources from the strategic industry fund.

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.