UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: November 24, 2009
(1) Protest at Regents’ Meeting & Strike In Berkeley
(2) Labor Board Issues Complaint Against UC for Bad Faith Bargaining
(3) National Academy of Sciences Questions Privatization of Los Alamos and Livermore National Labs
(4) UC Mandates H1N1 Vaccination, or Wear Face Masks
(5) For More News, Subscribe to UPTE’s Monday Memo
(1) Protest at Regents’ Meeting & Strike In Berkeley: Contract Issues Part Of Movement
Joining with students, other staff unions and faculty, UPTE activists participated in a powerful protest at the Regents’ meeting in Los Angeles last week, while at the same time engaging in a two day strike at the Berkeley campus.

The UPTE-CWA strike was our third and most successful strike this year in Berkeley. Picketing started at 5 AM Wednesday and continued all day. Picketers were joined by hundreds of students, faculty and other staff union members who both supported our contract demands and were protesting the regents’ actions to raise student fees and cut services. On Thursday, UPTE, CUE and AFSCME held actions for laid off workers, drawing hundreds of supporters. On Friday, 40 students occupied Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall, and among other demands, called for rescinding layoffs of custodial staff. A lively crowd estimated by news organizations at two thousand gathered to support the sit in, as police tried to remove them. The Wheeler occupation was the finale of 3 days of strong student-staff-faculty solidarity, and resulted in 5 custodial positions being reopened for recruitment last weekend.

Speaking to the regents during public input, UPTE-CWA president Jelger Kalmijn pointed to UC’s misleading financial information, using the example of how all the university’s research grants actually have money included for raises that is not being allocated. UPTE-CWA’s chief negotiator for health care professionals, Wendi Felson, presented hundreds of petitions to the regents, demanding that they release the money that the medical centers and student health centers have for equity increases.

Starting the day before the vote to increase the student fees by 32%, demonstrators surrounded Covel Commons where the meeting was taking place. Many students slept in tents a short distance away while others came in busses from all over the state.

The regents had clearly made up their minds prior to their arrival in Los Angeles, and their vote for the 32% increase was expected. The protest focused on shaming them for dismantling the master plan for education. The demonstrations were covered in many local and national press outlets, and created momentum for the movement to defend public education and service at the University of California.

(2) Labor Board Issues Complaint Against UC For Bad Faith Bargaining
The state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has issued a far-reaching complaint against the University of California for bad faith bargaining in our tech and researcher (TX/RX) negotiations. This is a strong rebuke of UC’s refusal to engage in any meaningful dialog at the table. A “complaint” means PERB has found enough evidence to merit charging the university with violating labor law, and that the matter will go to a full hearing.

“Hopefully, this complaint will wake up UC’s Office of the President and they will start working with unions for real solutions instead of their current union-busting tactic of absolute refusal to negotiate,” assesses Kevin Rooney, UPTE-CWA chief TX/RX negotiator.

The PERB complaint includes:

  • UC refusing to bargain about furloughs, cuts and layoffs
  • UC making its wage offer contingent on the state budget and withdrawing it
  • UC engaged in direct dealing UPTE members about how to impose cuts
  • UC refusing to bargain about holiday closures
  • UC cancelling and sabotaging many bargaining sessions

The complaint validates the unfair labor practice three strikes that UPTE-CWA members have engaged in during the course of bargaining. The complaint will also make it much more difficult for UC officials to impose any kind of unfavorable agreement because they have not gone through the legally mandated bargaining process.

(3) National Academy of Sciences to Question Privatization of Los Alamos and Livermore National Labs
Privatization of the Livermore and Los Alamos National Labs will come under much needed public scrutiny, thanks to a National Academy of Sciences investigation pursued by UPTE-CWA. The new private for-profit monopoly structure costs nearly $400 million in additional federal funds, without any apparent improvement in the safety, security or scientific outcomes.

Privatization of the labs (which were previously run by UC) has wrecked havoc on lab employees by taking them out of the UC pension plan. Last year, the Livermore lab took away the UC retiree health benefits from those who had retired from UC (whether or not they continued to work for the privatized lab), and replaced it with a flat $2400 annual contribution to health plans that the retirees have to shop for themselves.

An employee died at the Los Alamos national lab from radiation poisoning. Security leaks continue. Scientific progress has been stymied by the inability to recruit and retain quality staff.

The National Academy of Sciences study will hopefully make clear what a security, financial and scientific mistake the privatization of these nuclear weapons research facilities has been.

(4) UC Mandates H1N1 Vaccination, or Wear Face Masks
Most UC medical facilities have mandated that all employees receive the H1N1 vaccination, or that they wear a face mask at all times until further notice.

UPTE-CWA shares UC’s concern about epidemic of H1N1 flu and the health risks, and we encourage members to receive a vaccination. For those who may have allergies or other important considerations about being vaccinated, we will encourage UC find reasonable and safe alternatives to the vaccination that will protect both our members and their patients.

Our first concern is the availability of the vaccine. UC needs to make it freely available to all employees immediately. All information about the risks and side effects needs to be made available.

For those employees who decline vaccination, UPTE-CWA has several concerns and suggestions:

  • The face masks that UC is providing are largely ineffective in preventing the spread of H1N1. If face masks are truly required, proper masks and training must be provided.
  • Many jobs at the medical center do not involve patient contact, and hence do not require the mandatory measures that UC wants to impose.
  • UPTE-CWA will defend any employee that has negative consequences from refusing to comply with this UC mandate, and will seek to find workable solutions.

If you have additional suggestions or questions, please contact UPTE-CWA’s health care professionals (HX) coordinator Wendi Felson.

(5) For More News, Subscribe to UPTE’s Monday Memo
Want to keep current on budget news and the fight to save UC? Keep up-to-date on developments by subscribing to UPTE’s Monday Memo, a once-a-week email bulletin that includes news and views about working at UC. Anyone may subscribe by sending an email to subscriptions_mondaymemo@upte-cwa.org

The UPTE E-Bulletin is prepared by UPTE-CWA President Jelger Kalmijn. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to write him at president@upte-cwa.org.

We want to hear your input. Participate in the UPTE member forum for more dialog on UPTE issues.