RX/TX Bargaining Report #4
The morning portion of the February 23 bargaining session centered on UPTE’s concern regarding the massive premium increases imposed on those who need to remain on HealthNet or Blue Cross Anthem. Our members were hard hit as they had very little time to consider alternatives to these two plans. Not to mention the potential medical implications of switching plans—such as losing coverage of a physician who has been involved in a long term, complicated medical condition. Another concern was that UC listed many providers and medical groups on its website after open enrollment ended. Also, the more economical plans such HealthNets Blue and Gold included only an extremely limited number of facilities.
UPTE is attempting to negotiate over the inequitable “fair share” approach as lower paid workers are paying a proportionally higher percent of their income on health care premiums than higher paid workers, especially the top executives of UC.
Several UPTE members presented their healthcare and financial hardships to UC’s bargaining team, which gave us shameful responses. It is apparent to UPTE that the University views employees as nothing more than a bunch of “grousers” and “grumbler.” One member who works at UC Berkeley came to the table and presented her personal medical difficulties and lack of providers near her residence. UC’s response essentially was “too bad, get used to the drive.” They shared an attitude resembling, “if you don’t like it, go somewhere else”. UPTE’s bargaining team would like to thank all of those who shared their personal financial and/or medical hardships in an attempt to move UC towards fair and equitable healthcare benefits
UPTE’s initial healthcare benefits proposal includes: keeping Health Net HMO and Blue Cross Anthem premiums at 2010 rates; having another open enrollment in May; and giving union members a voice in the healthcare premium selection and cost determinations in the future. In contrast, UC’s proposal is to have TX/RX employees start paying the 2011 premium rates and end bargaining.
In the afternoon session, the focus was on pension contribution. Similarly, the University placed the onus on its “worker bees”. The University contends that TX/RX employees must pay an additional 0.5% into the pension plan. The UCRP has been mismanaged over the last two decades, and it is the University’s wish that we pay for its failures.
Paul Brooks, a TX member at UC Berkeley, gave an excellent presentation illustrating models and manipulations of UC’s finances as well as the University’s disturbing lack of transparency. Several UC campuses received an “F” in transparency recently. He also clearly showed how a much more effective fund can be achieved by reducing external management fees. Current management fees of the UCRP are 2.5%, which is way above standards. UC doesn’t deny there has been mismanagement of these funds; yet it insists that staff pay the price of its errors. UC essentially refused to seriously consider Brooks’ information and proposals.
UC’s first proposal on pension is to have everyone pay an additional 0.5% contribution into the UCRP staring July 1, 2011 and an additional 0.5% contribution starting July 1, 2012. UC’s proposal includes retro payments with interest for every month we don’t make the contribution, up to six months each year.
Meanwhile, UPTE has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge with the state Public Employment Relations Board. Our ULP charges UC with bad faith bargaining for threatening to go to impasse (and just imposing its proposals) before we even started bargaining, inflicting outrageous retro payments, and penalizing the RX/TX units for wage increases UPTE negotiated in prior agreements, etc. UC still has not responded to many of the information requests we
We are happy to announce we have a full bargaining team again. Mike Fehr, a Computer Resource Specialist at UCLA, has joined the team.
Our next bargaining session will be Wednesday, March 30th, in Oakland.
Bargaining Team Members:
Wendi Felson, Chief Negotiator
Anthony Fernandez, Radiation Safety Technician, LBNL
Karen Galbreath, Animal Health Technician, UCD
Bryan Pettengill, Computer Resource Specialist, UCSD
Mike Fehr , Computer Resource Specialist, UCLA