UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: September 26, 2006

(1) UC Announces Outrageous Health Benefits Cost Increases: Please Fill Out Important On-Line Survey
(2) TX/RX: Unions Tackle Pension Contributions Together
(3) TX/RX: What Are Your Raises?
(4) HX: UC Demands Pension Concessions in Exchange for a Step-Pay System
(5) 99s: Raises Late and UC Doesn't Even Know How Much
(6) Elections: Winning On Our Issues

(1) HX: UC Promises Compensation and Pension Proposals
Last week, UC finally revealed the premiums it seeks to impose on employees for health benefits next year. We were shocked.

  • UC's cost for health care has increased by a modest 8.1% but it wants us to pay an average of 56% more
  • Lower paid employees' copays are being increased more than twice as fast (up 164%) as executives making over $120,000 (up 70%)
  • The average UPTE-CWA employee's cost (with family & making 40K to 80K) will go up $60/month
  • These increases are in addition to UC's 30% increase last year, for a total increase of a nearly 90% increase over 2 years

For some employees, these increases will wipe out most of thier pay raises for next year.

Here's the complete table of health care premium increases.

Please give your input on what these increases mean for you, and what you are willing to do to stop them. Your involvement makes the difference. Please encourage your co-workers to fill out the 2-minute "health benefits survey "

Together with other UC unions, UPTE-CWA opposes these unjustifiable increases. On top of lagging wages, proposed cuts to our salaries to fund the pension plan, and higher parking rates, rank-and-file UC employees cannot afford these premium increases. In future contracts, we can no longer trust UC to provide a decent health benefit plan and will have to bargain the costs in advance.

These increases also underscore the need to support overall health care reform to provide universal health care coverage and control costs. The only proposal that does both is a single-payer plan where insurance companies are taken out of the profit loop and employers cannot pass on the costs. UPTE-CWA strongly advocates for single-payer insurance. UC has opposed all health care reforms that have come before the Legislature.

(2) TX/RX: Unions Tackle Pension Contributions Together
All the unions at UC have made a commitment to work together to challenge UC's proposal to restart pension contributions. UC has demanded that in July 2007 we forfeit the 2% of our pay we put into a 401k-style defined contribution plan (DCP). UC has also made a proposal to our health care professional (HX) members to give an additional 1% of their salaries in July 2008. These proposals come despite the fact that the pension plan remains 110% funded, and we have yet to see UC's promised raises to bring salaries to market rates.

UPTE tech (TX) and research professional (RX) delegates to our bargaining conference elected a bargaining team and agreed unanimously on 6 major demands:

  1. Postpone employee contributions to pension fund as long as possible.
  2. Secure retiree health benefits.
  3. Guarantee that UC contributes more to pension plan than we do.
  4. For employees that leave UC before vesting, provide them with return on their investment.
  5. Keep UPTE-CWA in line with other unions on pension issues.
  6. Push to bargain pension contributions as much as possible with overall contract negotiations.
  7. Stay up to date by bookmarking and checking our benefits bargaining webpage periodically.

Currently UC has agreed to bargain jointly with the three unions that immediately face changes to pensions: UPTE-CWA, AFSCME (service and patient care technical employees) and CUE (clericals). At a union coalition planning session last weekend, leaders and negotiators from all unions agreed to focus on: 1) UC's employer contributions to the pension plan, 2) protecting retiree health benefits, and 3) obtaining needed information from UC to help us determine what contributions are truly required to keep our pension fund solvent. We agreed to propose initial bargaining dates of October 25 and November 9 to kick off the process.

All the unions will do a Solidarity Action together on the first day of bargaining to show how important this issue is for everyone. Please stay tuned for the details at your work place.

(3) TX/RX: What Are Your Raises?
Raises totaling about 5.0% negotiated in our TX/RX contracts go into effect between October 1 and January 1. All employees, including limited appointments, probationary and those at the top of their pay range, will receive a 2.7% or 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment effective October 1, 2006 (you'll see it in your November 1 paycheck). In addition, all employees not at the top of their pay range will receive a step increase of at least 2.3% or 2.0%, on January 1, 2007.

Your supervisor has the option of giving you more than a 2.0% or 2.3% step increase on January 1, 2007. If you receive an above satisfactory performance evaluation, or you are underpaid for the work you do, you can make a pitch to your supervisor to support a larger step increase. If you believe that you are not receiving the appropriate raises, please contact your UPTE steward right away so that we can investigate and help fix the problem.

See the UPTE-CWA TX/RX web page for complete table of the upcoming raises and eligibility by job title.

( 4)  HX: UC Demands Pension Concessions in Exchange for a Step Pay System
Three months after contract expiration, UC finally gave a verbal pay and benefits proposal. UC has conditioned any raises on our acceptance of new employee pension contributions and allowing UC to unilaterally control the cost of benefits. HX employees are uniquely vulnerable to UC's demands for pension contributions as the only UC employees whose contract is currently open and whose 2006/07 wage increases depend on ratification. Our bargaining team has made clear to UC that HX employees will not be the guinea pigs to force pension contributions on all UC employees. We have demanded that the pension contribution bargaining be pulled out of HX contract negotiations and be dealt with in the already-established joint bargaining process with the other UPTE-CWA units, CUE and AFSCME. Working together with these other bargaining units, HX will no longer be vulnerable to UC's divide and conquer strategy.

Health care professionals are also delivering the message of "Fair Pay and Pension" to UC's medical center CEOs. At the Irvine medical center, about 100 employees and their supporters from the nurses, patient care technical and service unions, held an informational picket to support bargaining. Events are scheduled for all the other medical centers in the near future. Your participation will enable all of us to protect our pension and get a fair pay system. Stay up to date on the progress of negotiations by checking our HX negotiations web page .

(5)  99s: Raises Late and UC Doesn't Even Know How Much
The university has already announced that some campuses will not deliver the October 1, 2006 pay raises on time for unrepresented staff professional employees (the "99" unit). We know for sure that Office of the President, Merced and Los Angeles will be late. We will post additional information on our staff professional website as soon as we receive it. The raises announced for unrepresented employees are only merit pools, not actual raises. This means that employees are supposed to receive this amount on average. In reality, the merit pool amount is usually the maximum increases an employee can receive and many actually get less. UPTE-CWA will be monitoring the size of the actual increases (contact us if you wish to help!).

Despite the fact that these raises are effective in less than 2 weeks, UC does not even know how much the pay ranges for unrepresented employees will go up. This has usually been about 2%. This means that if new hires are brought in at the bottom of their pay range, they will only receive 2% more than new hires last year. In our experience, because employee turnover erodes the wage base, the average pay of employees only increases by the amount of the range adjustment over the long run.

This uncertainty, combined with overall lower raises than unionized employees receive, will be compounded by UC's ability to unilaterally impose any pension contributions on employees not protected by a union contract. UC has stated that it intends to impose a 2% pension contribution, which currently goes into a personal 401k-style supplemental retirement fund (called "DCP") as soon as July 1, 2007. For unionized employees, UC must go through the collective bargaining process. UPTE-CWA will argue that 99s should have the same pension contributions at the same time as unionized employees, and that they should not be punished because they lack a union contract to protect them.

(6)  Elections: Winning On Our Issues
With the anti-incumbent sentiment and important budget and political issues at stake, the outcome of this year's elections will have a big impact on UC employees. We will be keeping an up to date elections information website with the positions of candidates on the issues that matter to us as well as information about the propositions. We encourage members to check out the information, talk to your co-workers about the issues and vote.

DON'T FORGET: Make sure to complete the health benefits action survey (takes only two minutes).

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.