RX/TX Bargaining Report #10
UC San Diego (June 3 - 6, 2013)

TX/RX negotiations were held for 4 days in San Diego from June 3 to June 6th. 
Startling news from UC was presented: no wage increases for you without acceptance of the 2013 2-tier pension and reduced retiree health care.  In fact when pressed, UC’s Chief Negotiator said, no wage increases even if you do accept the 2-tier pension. Along with that UC is refusing to provide legally mandated information request responses; give any counter-proposals at all; and has refused to schedule any further bargaining dates. UC engaged in several instances of bad faith bargaining.

UPTE continued to make proposals and provide a forum for members to speak directly to UC with their issues and concerns. On behalf of UC Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco, a large group of UC San Diego animal technicians and other lab employees presented the UC bargaining team with a petition signed by more than 250 member signatures urging increased pay for obtaining AALAS certifications. Animal techs also brought up their safety concerns due to staff shortages.

UCSD Sea-going members made presentations bringing to life what they do at sea. It was a stirring and emotional presentation as it became clear just how hardworking and dedicated these workers are in the face of low wages, hazardous conditions and long hours.

UPTE made proposals to improve our right to strike in sympathy with other unions and that UPTE be notified when UC wants to extend an employee’s probationary period. UPTE finalized our general salary increase proposal for the RX/TX membership as part of a total pension/healthcare/compensation package.

On the last day of bargaining UC presented their second proposal on two tiers, adding a retroactive repayment schedule if UPTE does not agree to increase our pension contributions from 5% of salary to 6.5% on July 1st. It’s UC’s attempt to collect this 1.5% difference during the upcoming 2013–2014 fiscal year. However, while UPTE is engaged in contract negotiation, UC may not require members to repay any portion of pension contributions. UPTE does not intend to agree to this take away.

UC is engaging in bad faith bargaining by:

  • Refusing to negotiate further on the pension/healthcare issues. While we made a proposal that ensures a secure retirement and ways to reduce retiree health care costs; UC states they are not prepared to negotiate or even discuss our proposal. We have stated numerous times that we would like to enter into serious negotiations on how we can keep our members on one pension and one retiree healthcare plan.

  • Refusing to reach agreement or make an initial proposal on wages, which the UPTE bargaining team has been waiting for since December 2012. Furthermore, UC has not agreed to raises even if UPTE accepts their benefits proposal, including two tiers. Why would our members want to pay higher contributions for lower benefits and a 0% salary increase?

  • Failing to provide any counter proposals to any of our proposals, basically stalling negotiations. UC is showing bad faith by trying to make these issues contingent upon our agreement of their proposed benefits cuts.

  • Refusing to provide the information UPTE requested in December 2012, which is necessary in order to make fair proposals. In refusing, UC is violating state law.

Following this round of bargaining, UC was quick to release a statement that UPTE opposes “pension reform.” In fact, since 2006 UPTE and other UC unions have been demanding the following reforms:

  • Accurately determine the cost of our pension by replacing UC’s assumption that all UC employees’ salaries increase 5% each year. Is UC too embarrassed to use an assumption that reflects our actual meager salary increases?

  • Accurately estimate the amount earned by our pension investments each year. UC assumes 7.5%, but it’s actually higher over the past 20 years. If UC assumed 7.75%, the percent of salary we contribute to the pension could be decreased 4%.

  • UC pension decisions are made by the trustees, the UC Board of Regents. Virtually all large pensions in the U.S. and developed countries have one or more employees as trustees. Why doesn’t UC want employees to participate in the decisions made for our pension?

UC doesn’t mention why our pension is underfunded because the Board of Regents decided to stop all contributions from 1990–2010. The Regents also decided to withdraw funds from the pension – twice – during this time.  

What UC calls “pension reform” are cuts — creating a lower “second tier.”

UPTE believes UC should pay for their bad decisions that cost our pension to be underfunded. We didn’t make those decisions. Our pension proposal includes contributions by UC into the UCRP that would ensure the pension’s unfunded liability does not grow.

Finally, UC stated UPTE members were “rewarded” with the 5% raises in our current contract. But, that doesn’t take into account that UC dragged out the last contract bargaining for more than two years. We received no raises during that time. UPTE got raises in the last contract because our members turned out to actions and strikes that demanded fair wages.

UC is currently refusing to schedule any further bargaining dates. Stay informed and active as the battle with UC over the pension issue heats up.

July 1st will be a statewide day of action.
July 1st is also the date all those without a union will have the 2-tier pension take effect. June 30th is the date our contract expires. So rallies and other actions are planned. Show UC you stand with your union and with AFSCME, which is also rallying on Monday, July 1st. Check the UPTE website for more information.

Your bargaining team:
Wendi Felson, UCSF (ret.), Chief Negotiator
Jim Hockridge, Principal Television Technician (TX), Berkeley
Paul Brooks, Spectroscopist (RX), Berkeley
Karen Galbreath, Animal Health Technician (TX), Davis
Vanessa Bakula, Staff Research Associate (RX), Davis
Erik Lawrence, Senior Wardrobe Technician (TX), Irvine
Mike Dupray, Principal Radiation Control Technician (TX), LBNL
Mike Fehr, Computer Resource Specialist (TX), Los Angeles
Jie Luo, Staff Research Associate (RX), Los Angeles
Tonya Greene-Tucker, Clinical Research Coordinator (RX), San Diego
Jimmy Leo-Castillo, Principal Electronic Technician (TX), San Diego
Paul Phojanakong, Laboratory Assistant (TX), San Francisco
Elisa Cleveland, Staff Research Associate (RX), San Francisco
Damion Miller, Principal Electronics Technician (TX), Santa Barbara
Erik Kovacs, Principal Telescope Technician (TX), Santa Cruz