UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: October 11, 2010
(1) HX Wage & Benefit Agreement!  
(2) Benefits Plans and Costs For 2011
(3) Thousands Demonstrate to Defend Public Education
(4) OSHA Fine for Lab Safety Violations at UCLA
(1) HX Wage & Benefit Agreement!
After months of bad faith bargaining and stalling by UC in health care (HX) professional bargaining, the union’s imminent strike threat helped push the university to a tentative agreement. The settlement contains wage increases and specifics about benefits and pensions through at least June 30, 2011 with a possibility for extension through December 31, 2011.

The details of the tentative agreement will be sent to all UPTE HX members in preparation for a ratification vote October 25-29. Non-members are welcome to join the union during the ratification process if they want the details of the agreement and an opportunity to vote on ratification.

Assuming that members ratify the agreement, we will send out a bargaining survey in order to prepare to negotiate a new contract next year. A bargaining conference will be held early next year to determine our priorities, decide on the contract extension and elect a bargaining team.

(2) Benefits Plans and Costs For 2011
During UC’s open enrollment period from October 25 through November 23, many employees will be forced to make difficult choices. UC is splitting the HealthNet HMO plan into two separate plans. The current version will nearly double in cost, adding more than $160 monthly cost for a family.

The new version, HealthNet Blue and Gold, will be about $10 more expensive than last year, but contains only 65% of the providers of the original HealthNet. UC has promised us a comprehensive list of the providers that will not be included in the cheaper plan but we have not received it. Verbally they did inform union reps that the two major providers not included in HealthNet Blue and Gold are Sutter and Alta Bates. This means that many of us in the Bay Area and Davis/Sacramento will have to switch primary care provider or pay the additional premium. If you do not want to pay the higher premium you must shift to the new HealthNet Blue and Gold during open enrollment. If you do not switch you will by default remain in the more expensive plan even if you provider is also included in the cheaper plan.

The other plans are also creeping up in cost. See a complete cost comparison and additional information on the UPTE website. The only plan that has significantly reduced its cost is the Anthem Luminos PPO with HRA. This is a plan that encourages participants to not get appropriate health care, because once you use up your $1000 annual reimbursement, all of your health care costs are covered by you until you hit your annual maximum payment amount. This means that any chronic illness or significant unexpected health care incident will end up costing lots of cash. UPTE recommends against members signing up for this plan.

We will release a benefits advisory with more comprehensive analysis prior to the open enrollment period.

(3) Thousands Demonstrate to Defend Public Education
All across the nation, activists came out in force on October 7 for a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education against increased student fees, privatization, layoffs and cuts to education at all levels. UPTE-CWA activists participated at campuses across the state. The next step for this movement will be to get out the vote this November for candidates that support public education and services. Check out the comparison between the candidates and the California Labor Federation’s endorsements, and cast your vote.

(4) OSHA Fined for Lab Safety Violations at UCLA
After the tragic and fatal accident of lab worker Sheri Sangji two years ago, OSHA inspections uncovered widespread serious health and safety violations at UCLA. The violations included flammable materials, inadequate protective equipment, and lack of training and documentation of training. The university fought the violations but with the interview of UPTE health and safety activists at UC Los Angeles OSHA compelled the University to accept a penalty totaling to nearly $70,000.

UPTE is sponsoring a health and safety training on October 30 and 31 in Oakland taught by trainers from the National Labor College. Please contact your UPTE local or a member of our statewide health and safety committee if you are interested in attending.

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

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.

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