HX Bargaining Report #15
UCSF/UCOP April 15-16, 2013

The fifteenth contract negotiations between the UPTE-HX and University of California bargaining teams took place at UCSF on 4/15/2013, and at the UC Office of the President (UCOP) on 4/16/2013. On the first day, more than 20 HX members came to present to the UC bargaining team about a variety of concerns. A medical interpreter explained how UCSF violates the rights of non-English speaking patients; when she and her colleagues proposed some policy changes to correct this injustice, management instituted the changes and took all the credit for it themselves, giving none to the interpreters.

A case manager voiced her concerns about high executive pay and pension benefits, as well as an overabundance of executive and management personnel, in light of the flat wages for regular UCSF workers. Three social workers, two who work at Parnassus and another who works at City Wide Focus, expressed their concern about pay inequities in terms of erroneous step placements; having to regularly work on weekends; and the school of medicine’s failure or refusal to recognize licensure or experience in the same way that the medical center does.

Twelve clinical lab scientists (CLS) spoke at different points about their uniquely dissatisfying situation. They explained how due to changes in market pay for CLSs, coupled with the UC Regents’ 2012 directive that no HX member receive any sort of raise until agreement is reached on the 2013 pension and retiree healthcare, they are grossly underpaid, around 20% below the standard market wage for a CLS. One CLS explained that she had been working at UCSF for 30 years as a CLS, yet her pay is the same as what Kaiser currently pays a CLS with only four years of experience.

Several CLSs explained that due to UCSF’s low CLS pay scales, UCSF now has to hire new CLSs with no experience as a CLS at step 6. These new, totally inexperienced CLSs at step 6 are then trained by very experienced CLSs who are only at step 4. A CLS explained that this situation is totally disrespectful and wrong, with which UC chief negotiator agreed, and said that it would be fixed once a full contract, which must include agreement pension changes, is reached. The CLS responded that UC is holding their fair market equity raises hostage to UC’s insistence on a two tier pension, and spoke for the CLS group by saying that they would strike over this, and they do essential work without which doctors can’t make diagnoses, and the hospital cannot function.

After these powerful presentations, UPTE-HX’s head bargainer Wendi Felson passed four very important proposals to the UC team: Article 5 Compensation, Article 40 University Health and Welfare Benefits, Article 41 University Retirement and Savings Plans, and Article 47 Duration. The key points of these four proposals were as follows:

  1. An annual across the board (ATB) wage increase for everyone in the HX unit plus an annual 2% step increase for all eligible employees; longevity increases and experienced based steps established.

  2. The establishment of a Retiree Healthcare Trust Fund, to which employees covered by the HX contract and UC would both contribute 0.5% of salary and every HX member (new and newly hired) stay on the current healthcare program;

  3. All current HX members and those hired after 7/1/2013, would continue on the same pension plan, with increasing contributions from both UC and employees, who would contribute an additional 1.5% of salary upon contract ratification, and then another 1.5% increase on 7/1/2014, for a total employee contribution of 6.5%, while UC contributes at a rate that will ensure the unfunded liability does not grow;

  4. The proposed contract would end on 6/30/2016.

These proposals gave the UC bargaining team many points on which to bargain: amount of pay increases, retroactivity (or not) of first ATB pay increase, amount and timing of employee contributions to the pension, establishment of the retiree trust fund, etc.

The next day at UCOP, bargaining took place in two sessions, totaling 37 minutes in duration. In the first, UC’s chief negotiator passed a document with various plans for employees to pay back the additional 1.5% of salary that UC planned for them to pay towards the pension as of 7/1/2012, as all other UC employees have been paying (HX employees have not been paying this due to the lack of a contract since 2/17/2012).

Wendi Felson responded that UPTE-HX was not going to make retroactive payments to the pension. She reminded UC that the HX team had twice made a proposal in 2012 for all HX-represented employees to pay this additional 1.5% contribution to the UCRP in exchange for a 3% ATB pay increase, and UC chose to refuse this offer.

In the second bargaining session, Tony DiGrazia said that his UC team had looked at UPTE-HX’s proposals from the day before. He said that due to the HX team’s proposal to keep all current and future employees on the same pension plan, he sees the two parties as “hopelessly deadlocked,” and said that UC would be filing with PERB (Public Employees Relations Board) for a declaration of impasse as soon as possible. He said that pension changes for future employees and retiree health is a “lynchpin issue,” and that he hoped the two parties could reach agreement with the help of a third party neutral mediator that impasse would require.

Wendi Felson responded that HX does not want to go to impasse as there are still issues on which the two sides can bargain. She stated that UPTE, along with AFSCME and CNA, spent a great deal of time and money formulating a plan that would keep all employees on one pension plan while restoring the health of that pension fund, which UC never considered or computed for their part, insisting instead on a lesser, cheaper pension plan for future employees. Tony DiGrazia said that he hoped to meet again with the assistance of a mediator, and the UC team left the room.

The next day, 4/17/2013, Mr. DiGrazia filed a 13-page petition for impasse with PERB. The size and timing of the petition showed that UC was already planning to go to impasse, and did not sincerely consider HX’s proposals from this bargaining session. Now, a process of events begins following the UC petition for impasse:

  1. PERB will either grant the petition for impasse, or tell the sides to return to bargaining;

  2. If PERB grants the impasse, mediation will begin, but will only last as long as the two sides make progress;

  3. After mediation, fact-finding begins, with one UC representative, one HX representative, and a neutral third representative on the fact-finding team;

  4. After fact-finding, a 10-day “cooling-off” period begins, during which the fact-finding report remains confidential and either side can seek to bargain again;

  5. After the 10-day “cooling-off” period, the fact-finding report becomes public, and UC can impose their last best offer and HX can strike.

As is obvious, this is a multi-step process, and the timeline of these events is unpredictable. It is also now blatantly obvious that HX will not win a contract at the bargaining table, and that member action, very possibly consisting of a strike, is necessary for HX to reach a contract agreement that comes close to addressing members’ concerns.

On May 15th, AFSCME and UPTE will be holding rallies and various actions at the medical centers. We hope that you will make the plans now (schedule the day off, use vacation leave time to take a long lunch break, etc.) to be part of the action. It is key that we get more participation by HX members to make a strong showing to UC that you stand with the union and want fair wages and a secure retirement now.

For more information on action plans at your medical center, to join the mobilizing committee, please contact your local bargaining team member:

Wendi Felson, Clinical Laboratory Scientist (retired), Chief Negotiator   
Jamie McDole, Case Manager, Davis   
Sonia Palacio, Clinical Social Worker, Irvine  
Tom Brewer, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Los Angeles  
TK Lee, Pharmacist, San Diego   
Jason Rosenbury, Clinical Social Worker, San Francisco  
Susan Rode, Clinical Social Worker/RN, Student Health Centers