UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: June 02, 2009
UC wage proposal guarantees only 2.25% over 3 years, even though UC admits grants are fully funded for cost-of-living
(2) UPTE challenging illegal increase to health benefit costs – sign on so we can get your money back
(3) Legislators submit constitutional amendment to hold UC accountable, prohibit executive pay increases
(4) Insurance company-run health care: Staywell and pre-natal care
(5) UPTE health care bargainers present first proposals

(1) UC wage proposal guarantees only 2.25% over 3 years, even though UC admits grants are fully funded for cost-of-living
UC negotiators made a new wage proposal last week, but it includes no substantive change. While UC claims the proposal contains 5.5% in raises over three years, 3.25% of this depends on the recovery of the state budget, which is unlikely. The special raises for lower-paid employees affect only about 5% of UPTE’s technical (TX) and research (RX) members, mainly Lab Assistant Is. The real raise UC is proposing amounts to only 2.25% over 3 years.

Additionally, UC refuses to make the raises retroactive, which would take away more than a half year’s worth of the first raises and penalize UPTE workers for the illegal stall tactics practiced by UC.

UC is claiming poverty due to the economy, but technical and research employees’ wages are not connected to the budget situation, as approximately 90% are not state-funded. The layoffs that are occurring in other units have not affected many researchers or techs.

Here are some comparisons that show just how cheap UC’s proposal is. Compare the 2.25% over three years with:

  1. The 9% that is available in the grants that cover most TX/RX employees.
  2. The 12% and 27% raises given to the new San Francisco and Davis Chancellors, respectively, over their predecessors for just one year.
  3. The over 9% that UC service workers won this year.
  4. The 2.75% that UC is offering for just one year at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (the service workers got 5% for one year at LBNL). The reason UC gives for offering more at LBNL is because the lab is not state-funded – a poor excuse given that about 90% of the campus research and technical employees are not state-funded either.

At the same time UC increased its wage offer from 2% to 2.25%, it admitted that the federal government had fully-funded all the escalators for grants back to the beginning of the fiscal year, October 1, 2008. That means the money is there for fair RX/TX raises.

UC claims that the failure of the propositions in last month’s California special election further hampers its ability to give us the raises we deserve. The propositions, which would have unfairly taxed working people and put an unreasonable straightjacket on future state budgets, may impact UC’s state funding for next year. But these financial woes do not impact grant-funded employees, who are the overwhelming majority of the TX/RX unit.

UC has vast financial resources that it spends on special projects, such as a recent $4 million marketing campaign in Washington, DC. This amount by itself could fund more than a 1% raise for all TX/RX employees. And just this one expenditure would several times over cover the raises of the stated-funded TX/RX employees.

(2) UPTE challenging illegal increase to health benefit costs: sign on so we can get your money back
If you have HealthNet or Blue Cross insurance you may be paying $50 to $200 per month more for health care benefits than you should. UPTE has filed an unfair labor practice charge to overturn this increase and demand reimbursement.

For HealthNet: If you got raises in 2008 (including January 2009) that increased your pay from under $45,000 to over $45,000, UC increased your rates unilaterally by about 50%. 

For Blue Cross: UC decreased the cost of Blue Cross, but this does not apply to UPTE- represented employees because we are still in bargaining. UPTE chose not to allow UC to change the cost of health benefit premiums, because few of us are on Blue Cross and the other plans had cost increases that would have negatively affected most of our members. UC advertises the lower rates, but does not make clear these do not apply to techs or researchers either during the open enrollment period or for new hires.

UPTE does not know which health plan our members have chosen. If you think that you might be one of the affected employees, let us know by filling out the brief form on the UPTE webpage. When our legal challenge prevails, we want to make sure that you get reimbursed.

(3) Legislators submit constitutional amendment to hold UC accountable, prohibit further executive pay increases

Over 400 executives earned more than $200,000 in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. As recently as their May meeting, the regents awarded pay increases to executives, including giving new chancellors at UC Davis and UC San Francisco salaries that are 27% and 12% above that of their predecessors, respectively.

On Friday, UC President Mark Yudof sent a memo announcing that some 30 UC executives would take a one-year temporary pay cut of 5% for the next fiscal year.

This appears to be a move to appease California legislators who are attempting to reign in UC’s pay practices for top administrators. A bill, SB 217, co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, passed last week in the Senate. It would prohibit pay increases for UC executives during budget crises. It is expected to also pass in the Assembly this week.

Also last week, a constitutional amendment to allow greater public control and accountability of the UC system, SCA 21, was introduced by a bi-partisan coalition of legislators convinced of the need to bring UC under the compliance and accountability of state law. Moved by outrageous escalation of executive pay and perks in times of fiscal constraint, Democratic state senators Gloria Romero (Los Angeles) and Leland Yee (San Francisco) have teamed up with Republican legislators to introduce the amendment, which would force UC to follow state health and safety, labor law and financial regulations.

"Audits of the UC during the last few years read more like AIG or Enron than what we expect from the University of California. This is a system that clearly has lost its sense of public accountability," explained Senator Romero.

UC President Mark Yudof is pushing to go in the opposite direction, proposing to the regents that he be granted “emergency” powers to take personnel and restructuring decisions without regents’ approval as he sees fit. If successful, Yudof with operate without even the usual rubberstamp approval of the regents, and the UC bureaucracy will continue to prioritize itself while slashing essential services and programs for the citizens of California.

(4) Insurance company-run health care: Staywell and pre-natal
The university has signed up with third-party insurers to provide plans to encourage healthy lifestyles and pro-active pre-natal care. The concept of these plans is commendable and enticing: they provide a small financial incentive in return for the employee filling out a health survey and receiving advice on how to live a healthier lifestyle.

Unfortunately, these plans are implemented not through your health care providers, who are bound by confidentiality laws, but through insurance companies. When you participate, you are revealing personal information to your insurance company. You could experience future denials of coverage based on information you provide.

Insurance companies mine the data they receive to redesign their plans to make more money. Sometimes that means with providing us better options, but more often than not, insurance companies are likely to deny coverage to increase their profits.

UPTE has opted to not have members involved in these plans because it is likely that once UC has some participation, it will push to make the plans mandatory and even structure their monthly premiums based on participation in the plan and adherence to the recommendations.

(5) UPTE health care bargainers present initial proposals 
At the first bargaining session for the more than 2,000 health care professionals, 46 UPTE members presented information about the need for experience-based pay, market-rate pay scales and raises for topped-out employees. UC has already indicated in the first session that it intends to offer raises despite the economic situation in the state.

The next session is scheduled in San Francisco on June 9 and 10. As always, members are encouraged to attend and present information relevant to their job classifications and pay.

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
UPTE-CWA 9119  |  P.O. Box 4443, Berkeley, CA 94704 | 510.704.8783  |  info@upte-cwa.org