Two of my sisters at UCLA wrote a great op-ed piece for their campus paper.
Administrative Professionals Union Vote – Answer to UC
The upcoming election for union representation for Administrative Professionals (the last group of employees on campus not under a union contract) has elicited some interesting comments from UCOP which appear in the faculty and staff benefits Open Enrollment website. While most of the information is accurate, one very important statement was not. That statement was, “Like all unions, they believe they can improve employee wages, benefits, and working conditions.” UPTE/CWA 9119 not only can, but HAS improved wages and working conditions. When UC suggests that represented staff have not received better wage increases than unrepresented employees, please look at the facts and decide for yourself.
From 2000 to 2004, the average UPTE represented Research and Technical Professional received total increases of 8.75%, and the average Health Professional received a 10.1% increase. Administrative Professionals (unrepresented) received an average of only 6.8%, and 1.8% of that was due to UPTE lobbying. (In 2000, UPTE lobbied the state legislature to get Administrative Professionals an additional 1.0% raise, on top of the 3.5% merit pool, by convincing the legislature to add $19.8 million to the UC budget. UC declined to participate in lobbying, then tried to take credit for UPTE’s success. UPTE also succeeded in getting .08% returned to our base pay that had been previously diverted for incentive awards.) Without UPTE, we only would have received 5% over this 4 year period.
In 2000, the Technical Professionals represented by UPTE that were eligible for a step increase received 9.1% in 2000. In 2002-03, UC had lost significant funding from the state, but employees did not share the burden equally. Administrative Professionals received a tiny 1.5% increase, which for some didn’t even cover the increased parking and health costs. In 2002-3, Health Care Professionals bargained increases averaging 4.1%. In 2002-3, Technical employees eligible for a step increase got a base pay increase of 2.8% despite the funding problems. This was less than their previous increases but almost twice what unrepresented Administrative Professionals received. In addition, UPTE has negotiated equity wage increases of up to 20% for dozens of individual job titles that lagged the outside job market.
In 2002-03, Research Professionals won an end to the arbitrary merit pay and returned to the step system. The step system, unlike the merit system, has clear guidelines. Under the merit system, there is no accountability for how merit allocations are distributed (or whether all available merit money is given out at all). Merit pay is administered differently in each department – it is distributed across the board by some, while other departments use questionable practices to determine who gets raises and who doesn’t. Under a union contract, UPTE bargains and negotiates for raises and the contract would be voted on by the employees.
Compensation is not the only working condition UPTE/CWA has improved at the bargaining table. We understand that the budget is tight, and so UPTE, along with other UC unions, is now meeting with UC to discuss how to control benefit costs. UC has given us wonderful benefit choices and we realize they have tried to keep costs down, but belonging to a union would allow employees to be a part of the decision-making process and have input into the decisions that effect our lives.
Job security was a membership priority during 2003 negotiations, and UPTE went after and won a severance package for laid off employees. UPTE catalyzed the change of employee status from casual to career for hundreds of people at UCLA, some of whom were casual employees for 10 years or more.
Why would lecturers, researchers, hospital and technical workers, nurses, policemen, and other UC employees all vote for union representation? Because with a union they have a more powerful voice for negotiating with UC, and have the right to union representation in difficult job situations. Because with a union they can obtain better wages and working conditions, as proven by the track record of UPTE and other UC unions, even during the serious budgetary crises we are facing. Under PPSM, the UC now determines our compensation and raises and we have received a 1.5% increase in two years. This is not equitable, given the raises that represented units (and UC management) have received.
There is still more work to be done -- UC has refused to offer another VERIP, potentially leaving older employees vulnerable during layoffs, especially those Administrative Professionals under PPSM, who are not protected by UPTE contracts.
This is why we, and many other Administrative Professionals will vote YES for union representation!
Carol Grese, Administrative Specialist
Cindy Kimmick, Programmer Analyst
Judith Magee, Student Affairs Officer
Please see the UPTE website for more information: http://www.upte.org
|... Comments made afterwards|