UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: December 16, 2008
(1) Yes, We’re in a Recession, but UC Does Have Funding for RX/TX Raises
(2) HX Bargaining Team Elected, Priorities Set 
(3) Senator Feinstein Waffles on Employee Free Choice Act: Call Her Toll Free Today 
(4) CWA Bierne Scholarship 

(1) Yes, We’re in a Recession, But UC Does Have Funding for RX/TX Raises
When discussing going on strike for a raise, many employees are concerned that the economy is bad so we should lower our expectations. If you work for Washington Mutual, General Motors or the State of California, that is probably true. But we work for the University of California. Our grants all have raises included in their budgets. Our departments depend on recharge money, where raises are already budgeted. Or we work for UC enterprises (such as the hospitals) than are turning a generous profit. In all, less than 10% of UPTE TX and RX workers depend on state funds.

UC has now given or offered raises to many other UC employees:

  • UPTE HX (July 2008): Most titles more than 5%, Many titles more than 10%

  • AFSCME Service (Dec 2008) UC Offer: 1.0% to 1.5% for 3 years, in addition to step increases, and not dependent on the state budget

  • AFSCME Patient Care New Contract: 4% retroactive to Oct 2007, and 5% in 2009

  • CNA Nurses (Dec 2008) UC Offer: 4% to 9% for this fiscal year

  • Police (Oct 2008): 2% to 8%

  • Building Trades: various raises at different campuses

After 9 months of bargaining with UPTE’s team, UC negotiators have failed to produce a wage proposal for TX/RX, but have verbally stated many times that their proposal will be 0%, and anything else would be dependent on the state budget. Now it’s our turn for a raise, and we know that UC can afford it.

All campuses are holding actions in support of bargaining issues, including demonstrations at the time of the next regents’ meeting on February 4. Most importantly, members are signing “strike pledge” cards stating that if all other pressure does not work and we have enough support, we will strike to force UC to negotiate fairly. If you have not yet done so, sign the card and hand it in to an UPTE activist in your area.

To put legal pressure on UC to bargain fairly, this Monday, UPTE filed an unfair labor practice charge against UC for their failure to put any wage proposal on the table and for canceling numerous bargaining sessions.

(2)HX Bargaining Team Elected, Priorities Set
Health care professional (HX) members strongly indicated in bargaining surveys that health benefits for employees and retirees are a high priority. Numerous inequities between campus and medical center employees, between the different medical centers and in comparison with other hospitals continue will have to be addressed in the upcoming bargaining.

Protecting our pensions, and ensuring that UC does not erode our raises with cuts to pay the pension fund, will be a challenge that health care professionals share with TX/RX members and other UC employees. UC will undoubtedly claim that it requires contributions to the pension fund to make up for losses due to declining financial markets. UPTE will insist that we need to see substantial employer contributions, as UC has not put anything into the pension plan for nearly 20 years. Also, the UC pension plan is one of the only public pension plans without any employee shared governance. This pension plan is our money and we should have a say in how it is invested and distributed.

At our health care bargaining conference last week, the delegates elected a bargaining team that will start bargaining training and then will be preparing UPTE initial proposals. The team members will be announced soon and will be available for members to discuss bargaining progress and priorities.

(3) Senator Feinstein Waffles on Employee Free Choice Act: Call Her Toll Free Today
The election of Barack Obama and a stronger Democratic majority in Congress makes possible the most significant labor reform in 50 years: the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Currently, employees wanting a union must collect signatures from a majority of their coworkers, and then go through a long and complex election process than often gives the employer time to intimidate workers and undermine support for the union. The act will allow a second method of gaining union recognition: a “card check” process, where employees can unionize after a majority sign cards in support. The act will reduce ability of employers to retaliate against pro-union workers, and also requires mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes. President-elect Obama is committed to signing EFCA.

Corporations are now making the defeat of EFCA a top legislative priority, and are pressuring more conservative Democrats like Senator Dianne Feinstein to withdraw their support before Obama even takes office.

Call Senator Feinstein today. There is a toll free number set up by our national union CWA (please contact your local to obtain it).

(4) CWA Bierne Scholarship
Our national union CWA is accepting applications for Joe Beirne Foundation's annual scholarship offerings for the 2009-2010 school year.

The Foundation's Board of Directors has approved the awarding of 15 college scholarships of up to $3,000 each, and the winners also will receive second-year scholarships for the same amount, contingent upon satisfactory academic achievement.

CWA members, their spouses, children and grandchildren, including the dependents of retired, laid-off, or deceased members, are eligible to apply. Applicants must be high school graduates or high school students who will graduate during the year in which they apply.  Undergraduate and graduate students returning to school may also apply.

Applications will be available solely online for completion and submission to the Foundation's website: http://www.cwa-union.org/members/beirne/. Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2009.  The winners will be chosen by lottery from those submitting the required essay.  Additional information about the program can be found at the website.

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The UPTE E-Bulletin is prepared by UPTE-CWA President Jelger Kalmijn for all members.
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