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UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: February 17, 2009
(1) AFSCME Settlement Proves UC Has Money, Time To Step Up Action 
(2) Death of Researcher at UCLA Lab Underscores Need for Better Health and Safety
(3) Health Care: UC Violates Status Quo, Doubling Health Care Premiums For Hundreds   
(4) UPTE Skilled Trades at Livermore Achieve Historic First Contract

(1) AFSCME Settlement Proves UC Has Money, Time To Step Up Action for TX/RX Contracts
Actions in support of contract bargaining have paid of for UC’s service workers, represented by AFSCME. Union members conducted a long and successful campaign to get influential politicians and celebrities to boycott UC events, targeted regents and the UC president with protests and rallies, and also held a one-week statewide strike.

They have achieved a five-year contract with 3% raises on October of each year, an additional 1% July 2009, and 2% step increases for the last three years. The first three years of raises are independent of the state budget. The final two years will include negotiations over pensions, as well as ensuring the last two raises. The university will be able to shift service workers’ 2% retirement savings (DCP fund) into the UCRP pension fund in 2010. A cap was set on how much health benefits could increase. There are several other important achievements, including overtime after working a normal shift, more training time, and an increase in the minimum wage to $14 per hour in 2012.

UPTE congratulates AFSCME on its victory. After more than a year of stalling, UC was forced to settle a contract that guarantees service workers much more than unrepresented workers (who this year got no pay increases).

With this settlement, UC has shown it has the money. Now is the time for UPTE to push for settlement. At this time, UC continues to have a 0% raise on the table for us. We know UC management can do better, but we need pressure them.

Building on successful actions across the state during the last regents’ meeting, UPTE plans pickets at all campuses in the middle of March to demonstrate that our members need a raise too. A strong turnout will send a strong message to UC. Watch for announcements at your campus, and plan to participate so that we can successfully conclude our contract negotiations soon.

(2) Death of Researcher at UCLA Lab Demonstrates Need for Improved Health and Safety 
In a tragic accident over the winter holiday, a spontaneously combustible chemical fatally burned a staff research associate at UCLA. UPTE has sent condolences to the family of the young researcher. The incident was covered in many news outlets including the UCLA Bruin and the Los Angeles Times.

This horrible incident has propelled UPTE’s bargaining team and its local at Los Angeles to tackle health and safety concerns with renewed vigor to ensure that another such accident does not happen. UC’s response has been lacking: the university has balked at even committing to adhere to state and federal laws. Many researchers do not have adequate training and information regarding the huge diversity of hazardous materials and working conditions they face. Many are not provided with adequate safety measures and equipment. We often work alongside students, visiting researchers, and others who have even less training and education about workplace hazards.

A safe workplace comes from a collaborative effort of employees and UC management on a daily basis. A joint health and safety committee with the ability to tackle dangerous conditions, without any fear of retaliation, will be able to address issues as they arise.

(3) Health Care: UC Violated Status Quo Doubling Health Care Premiums For Hundreds 
UPTE has challenged the increase in the health care premiums of hundreds of TX/RX employees as a violation of the university’s obligation to bargain all changes since the contract expired June 30, 2008. The increase affected those whose salaries rose above $45,000/year when they got raises last year. These employees were moved from health premium Band 1 to Band 2. This move is part of what UC must negotiate each year.

UPTE-CWA will file an unfair labor practice next week to prevent the increases.

(4) LLNL: UPTE-CWA Skilled Trades Workers Achieve Historic First Contract 
The newly unionized skilled trades workers at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab made major gains in their first UPTE contract. The contract addresses the major concern of job security (the lab has reduced the work force by 15%) by converting current flex term (temporary) workers to career status, reducing the number of years workers can be kept on flex term status, and convincing management to bargain any contracting out of work.

The two-year contract contains 8.3% in raises, some going back to October 2008. To address health and safety concerns, members now have the ability to stop performing any work they believe to be dangerous in addition to extra protections for working with beryllium. UPTE’s skilled trades bargaining unit members will hold a ratification vote on the tentative contract in the next couple weeks.

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