UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: December 22, 2006

(1) Pension demands by UC, Coalition Response
(2) HX: UC Demands We Pension and Benefits Protection
(3) Livermore: Organizing To Save Our Jobs
(4) Money: Raises, Healthcare And Union Dues

(1) Pension Demands by UC, Coalition Response
Our coalition of unions (UPTE-CWA, AFSCME, CUE) has begun official bargaining with UC about their demand for us to begin contributions to the pension plan on July 1, 2007 . After three sessions, UC has made clear they want rush through the formalities of the process and impose their unilaterally decided plan to take-away our 2% savings to our 401k-style Defined Contribution Plan and use it to fund the pension plan. Our bargaining team has challenged UC's skipping of important legal steps in the bargaining process and their refusal to provide critical information. In their haste to impose what they want, UC has already committed several unfair labor practices. You can see the latest bargaining team report on-line .

UPTE-CWA members are holding discussion meetings about UC's objectives to substantially change our jobs including: pension contributions, pension benefits, retiree health benefits, employee health benefits and wages. Whether you plan to retire or not from UC, you will be contributing to the pension plan. Because everyone will be impacted, our goal is to inform and discuss these important issues with everyone we represent. We have not yet spoken to many new employees about signing membership forms to show you care about your pay and benefits. In the next months, all the unions in the coalition will participate in this outreach. Our power point presentation is on our website .

(2) HX: UC Demands We Forfeit Pension and Benefit Protection
UC negotiators have decided to hold our HX wage increases hostage to their demand that HX have no say over their pension and benefits for the next 5 years. Over the last year, UC has revealed plans projecting 8% pay cuts to fund the pension plan and more than doubling our health care premiums. Dividing off HX from the other unions will weaken us all in our effort to preserve our benefits. Before our next bargaining session in January, all unions will make a strong statement that we will stay unified.

UC has verbally committed to moving towards real market pay for healthcare professionals but nothing is in writing yet. UC dramatically underpay healthcare professionals in many jobs. In San Diego , pharmacist starting pay at Kaiser is more than 80% above UC and for Clinical Laboratory Scientist UC lags by more than 40%. At UCLA Psychologists and Child Development Associates are both more than 30% behind market rates. At UCSF Clinical Social Workers and Physicians' Assistants lag the market by 13% and 25%, respectively. These comparisons are to 2005 wages so an additional 5% should be added.

Many employees have gotten together with their department to demand support for substantial market increases from their supervisor and the medical center administration. In particular, Clinical Lab Scientists and Physician Assistants in Irvine have all joined together to attend bargaining sessions and present their demands to hospital management. Our experience is that when employees speak out, results follow.

UC's dramatic pay lag has begun to impact our ability to provide quality health care. We want your story of how staffing problems and recruitment and retention threaten patient care. See example stories on our website . The public must be made aware that UC's staffing policies are bad health policy.

(3) Livermore : Organizing To Save Our Jobs
Our members at Lawrence Livermore National Lab have seen the losses that employees at Los Alamos suffered and want a different future. At this time, the Department of Energy plans to hand over the management of the lab, including more than 8000 employees, to a new, private contract. What happens to their retirement, if they have job, what their pay will be, what they will do are all unknown. At Los Alamos many were forced out of UC's pension plan, are now being laid off and have dramatically changed jobs.

In response, employees have begun a campaign for union representation. With a union, the employer must negotiate many of the transition changes instead of implementing them unilaterally. The initial response to our effort to collect signatures has been very positive.

(4)  Money: Raises, Healthcare, And Union Dues
TX and RX employees will receive a step increase as the second part of their raises effective January 1, 2007 (in your February paycheck). This will bring the total raise for the year to 4.8% to 5.1%. The about 10% of employees who are at the top of their pay scales or the very small number who have an unsatisfactory performance evaluation are not eligible for the step increases. You can review a summary of our contractual raises compared to unrepresented and UC's funding compact with the governor on our website.

UC increased health care premiums that aver more than 50% will go into effect with our January paycheck. In past contracts, all unions at UC have set our health care together with all other UC employees and not negotiated it directly. From the results of our health care poll, it is clear that members do not want us to give UC such a waiver in the future. We cannot let UC increases our health care costs so much that they substantially negate our pay raises in our next contract.

Last summer, UPTE-CWA members voted to approve an increase in our union dues. For TX and RX employees the dues cap will increase on January 1, 2007 by $5 and the percentage will change from 1.15% to 1.3%. If the HX (Healthcare Professional) employees have not yet voted to approve a contract that has an at least 2% general raise, their dues increase will be postponed. UPTE-CWA has given UC clear instructions on holding off on the HX increase but we have not been guaranteed they will. If UC deducts the increased amount, UPTE-CWA will reimburse it to employees.

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.