RX/TX Bargaining Report #12 — September 19-20, 2013

UPTE members met with UC on September 19 and 20 on campus at UC Riverside. After almost one year of bargaining sessions over a new contract, UC stands its ground with the demand for a new two-tier health and pension article. And UC proposes only step increases; no wage increases.

On the first day UPTE’s chief negotiator requested information regarding the recent publication by UC to change our current health care packages. UC was unable to give any information at this time. The UPTE team worked hard in finishing up as many articles as possible. UC refused to give any counter proposals or enter into any substantial negotiations without the union’s complete acceptance of their 2nd tier pension and retiree healthcare.

UPTE presented its package proposal for wages, healthcare and pension on the first day. Our proposal would have members contribute an additional 1 or 2% to remain on the one tier pension and retiree healthcare and receive a wage increase. This proposal means the university would not have to make any additional contributions to keep everyone on one tier. Yet UC refused to seriously consider our proposal.

UPTE members arrived at noon to talk with UC negotiating team. Members brought up many reasons as to why UC’s two-tier system is unfair and discriminates against long time employees. The example we took to heart most is members who work in departments with soft grants, which means they may be laid off temporarily and forced to come back on the second lesser pension tier. Many of the UPTE members expressed that they have been employed for many years, yet would not make the cut for the first tier retiree healthcare plan–even after 10+ years of service. UC stated they thought our members would never agree to pay a little more to stay on one pension plan. The members at Riverside let UC know different! UC’s excuses for the need for a second tier have been resolved by our proposal; yet UC insists on a second tier.

UPTE still is unable to work on a few remaining articles that require an RFI (Request For Information) response from UC. Most of UPTE’s RFIs were submitted in November, 2012; and without the requested information, the bargaining team cannot craft informed proposals. On the second day UPTE made additional proposals. UC responded that they feel the negotiations are at an “impasse” and that future bargaining sessions would be unproductive.

Future sessions will only be unproductive because UC has refused to negotiate in good faith due to the pension issue. UC tried to get UPTE to agree that we are at impasse several times during the two days at Riverside. We feel we have submitted proposals that are responsible and address UC’s concerns regarding the pension viability – we will pay for it! Impasse would mean that we are at a stalemate in the negotiations. Impasse starts a 2 or 3 month process that, if an agreement isn’t reached, leads to UC’s final offer being “imposed” on us but the TX/RX units have a right to legally strike (post-impasse strike). UC is clearly racing to get to impasse.

We requested that another session be scheduled in order for UC to provide the team information on the 2014 healthcare plan changes and premium costs. We plan to meet October 9th to go over UC need for health benefit changes.

Our proposal is on the table. We await UC’s response and willingness to partner with us to resolve these issues together, but at this point, we see nothing from UC but bad faith bargaining. We intend to fight back against UC’s efforts to make second class workers out of us. We deserve a secure retirement and fair wages. The week of October 14-18, all campuses will be holding a strike vote on various days and locations. Check the UPTE website for more information. Be sure to vote!

As members in the RX and TX units with an expired contract, you legally have the right to participate in sympathy strikes with our Healthcare Professional brothers and sisters or with other unions’ legal strikes. See your union representative to help, voice your opinions and get involved.

Stand tall for our right to have what was promised us when we were hired.

UPTE’s Systemwide Executive Board and this Bargaining Team recommend a YES vote to allow UPTE to decide when and for how long to strike. Want a union rep to come to a meeting to help explain the issues? Just let us know.

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Since the contract expired on June 30th, we are in “STATUS QUO.”  This means UC cannot make any changes to your workplace, scheduling, work rules, uniforms, parking, etc. If UC wants to make a change, they must notify UPTE and allow us the opportunity to bargain each issue separately. Since UC will fail to notify us for the most part, we rely on you to let us know of changes UC makes without our consent. When UC implements new changes after July 1st, say parking rate increases, without notifying us and holding a bargaining session, then it is a status quo violation. Once we get enough status quo violations, we can file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with PERB (Public Employment Relations Board). If there is a change to the terms and conditions at your workplace or if you just aren’t sure if it qualifies as a change, let me know. UC does not need to know how we received the information. For more information, see this primer on Status Quo.

Please let us know what changes are being made at your department! This will help us to fight for all our rights! Get informed!
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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

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