Biweekly news digest from the California State University Employees Union
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RAY FINNELL ON THE FURLOUGH PROCESS
FURLOUGH LMC REPORT
EXEMPT EMPLOYEE HANDOUT FOR FURLOUGH WEEKS
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS ABOUT FURLOUGHS
IN MEMORIAM: JOANNE ADAMS
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Ray Finnell on the Furlough Process
In this opinion piece from the pending next issue of University Employee, CSU Bakersfield Chapter 310 President Ray Finnell shares his thoughts on the forces that led to the furloughs agreement.
“Why should I join the union? All they’ve done recently is let Charlie Reed give me furloughs and a pay cut.” CSUEU officers across the state are facing opinions similar to this, and worse, lately.
Few of us, if any, are happy about the budget situation, but understanding the true causes and knowing how the bargaining team succeeded in minimizing the damage reveals a different scenario than imagined by those who complain.
The roots of the budget situation are many and deep, and they go back a number of years in California politics and national policies.
Proposition 13, which limited property tax increases, was one factor. The state legislative requirement of a two-thirds majority for both tax increases and annual budgets was another cause. The mortgage crisis, bank failures, a lack of adequate regulation over the financial industry, and partisan politics certainly must take a good portion of the blame as well. Questionable expenditures in the CSU, such as PeopleSoft, also have to be scrutinized, and less than effective lobbying for higher education probably didn’t help, either. A conservative governor, special interest groups, and legislators who would rather see prisons built instead of schools did a lot of damage, too.
Over the last several years, it all gathered into a perfect storm of recession and less income for the state. Within the framework of disastrously shrinking income, the governor and legislature cut a huge portion of the line item that funds the CSU and UC systems.
The figure for the CSU: nearly $584 million. There was no choice for the CSU: reduce costs by that much.
Within that amount, chancellor’s office personnel figured that a savings of $275 million could be realized by having every employee in the system take a 10 percent furlough. Once that figure was arrived at, the unions that represent most employees were apportioned their shares and given a simple choice: take furloughs and a few layoffs, or take massive layoffs.
Either way, the target figure had to be met; nobody had a choice.
Management personnel were also directed to take a 10 percent furlough. No manager had a choice, either: management personnel don’t have collective bargaining rights, so the furlough was imposed on them.
So what did CSUEU achieve for us, given those circumstances?
The bargaining team—a new one at that, comprised of rank and file employees—met for training the next day after the election and then immediately went into bargaining the furlough agreement.
In negotiations, the team forced at least one major workplace issue, workload, to the forefront.
Civil service state employees now must deal with nearly 15 percent furloughs. Our 10 percent loss must look pretty good to them right now. The governor imposed two days and then another day—without bargaining. He also wants them to take a five percent pay cut.
Most experts predict that 2010-11 will be as bleak as this year, but our furlough program expires June 30, 2010. Any further labor cost-savings program will require bargaining, as did this one. The chancellor cannot impose any contract changes on us without the bargaining team standing up for our rights. Were it not for our union, the chancellor could have unilaterally imposed a 20 percent furlough or massive layoffs without even consulting us.
Defending employee rights in the agreement is an ongoing effort. “We have filed a couple of grievances on campus-specific implementation plans,” said VP for Representation Russell Kilday-Hicks, “as well as a systemwide grievance.”
Chief of Staff Phillip Coonley explains that these grievances charge that employees are not being offered the opportunity to choose their furlough days and that the CSU has placed restrictions on the number of days per week and per month that are not in the furlough MOU. Partial campus closures are also contrary to the intent of the agreement. The San Jose plan has CSUEU-specific furlough days, for example.
Management adjustments have been made at some campuses. “Exempt employees have been ordered to not monitor networks or read e-mail,” said Andrew Coile, chapter president at CSU Monterey Bay.
The whole situation has focused much attention on the workload issue, which the CSU has “been in denial of for a long time,” according to Kilday-Hicks. Labor Management Councils were bargained and are being formed to monitor and control workload and other violations of the agreement. The attention to workload issues is welcomed, since the problem is perpetual and little substantive progress has been made in the past.
Another plus to arise from the situation is that the Board of Directors has agreed to reduce dues by 10 percent to ease the burden on members, proportionally to salary decreases from furloughs. Fee payers’ rates will also decrease.
The budget crisis is a lose-lose situation; CSUEU is fighting to keep our losses to an absolute minimum. We could have lost a huge number of jobs: the CSU stated they would cut over 30 percent of CSUEU-represented employees if we didn’t agree to furloughs. And even though there’s still a significant amount of money that must be saved somehow, your union will be there to protect your rights throughout.
To fully answer the question, “What did the union do for me regarding furloughs?” one must also ask, “What did union members do for me?” Union members voted overwhelmingly to share the pain rather than to gamble that other individuals would be laid off and that they themselves would survive. That’s what unions do: protect each other (whether voting members or not) and in doing so, protect as many as possible.
Furlough LMC Report
A newly formed statewide Labor Management Committee (LMC) comprised of CSUEU and CSU representatives met at the Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach on Monday, August 17, to discuss the implementation and impact of furloughs.
Among the points that were raised at the meeting:
The Chancellor’s Office is still receiving proposed schedules from the campuses, and many of those schedules have not yet been finalized.
The union and CSU respectively will be checking on the status of local campus Labor Management Committees, which should be meeting and attempting to work out problems. At a number of campuses, the administration is not yet working with the local union and staff. The statewide LMC will be issuing a joint labor management memorandum to support the establishment of functioning local LMC committees.
In future meetings yet to be set, CSUEU and CSU will negotiate a complaint procedure for workload issues and for exempted positions and classifications.
CSUEU has contested several campus furlough implementation plans. CSUEU has filed both statewide and local grievances regarding the number of furlough days that can be taken in one week and in one month, as well as so-called “partial closures” or “administrative closures.” Talks continued over these problems. CSUEU’s position is that, in accordance with the furlough agreement, employees should have the right to effectively nominate their own days off when there are not full campus closures, without black-out periods or arbitrary restrictions.
The committee discussed a number of questions about benefits. CSUEU called attention to the fact that the caps on vacation accrual should be relaxed during the furlough program. The Chancellor’s Office will be sending out another technical letter addressing such issues as jury duty and vacation accrual.
“We should enforce both the contract and furlough agreement with grievances as necessary,” says Vice President of Representation Russell Kilday-Hicks. “We will work toward creating functioning local LMCs that will either be able to resolve issues cooperatively or to elevate problems to our statewide committee.”
The next statewide LMC will take place in September.
Exempt Employee Handout for Furlough Weeks
A flyer for exempt employees during furlough weeks is now available online. Since it isn’t chapter- or campus-specific, it’s suitable for use statewide.
Contact Your Legislators about Furloughs
As part of the ongoing campaign to keep pressure on state legislators to fix CSU's funding problem, express your displeasure over furloughs to your representatives in Sacramento. On the day before your campus takes a furlough, visit the Capwiz web site to access a message about furloughs customized to your campus.
You may personalize the message by adding to or altering it, urging your legislators to fund the CSU and to find alternative solutions to furloughs in the months and years to come.
So far, more than 800 CSUEU-represented employees have already sent messages, but we need even more participation in order to make sure that our voices are heard.
In Memoriam: Joanne Adams
Longtime union activist Joanne Adams, who had served as both CSU Chico chapter president and CSEA Board of Directors member, passed away early this month.
“Joanne was a talented tenacious steward who was equal to any task before her in any of her leadership positions in CSUEU or CSEA.,” said CSUEU President Pat Gantt. “She set a high standard for all of us in her work to help the members, and our organization is better because of her efforts.”
Adams had seemed to be in good health recently despite long-term mobility problems due to a broken ankle she suffered a number of years ago.
She had recently retired from a part-time teaching position in the Anthropology Department at Chico State. Her post-retirement activities included involvement in local politics and the Democratic Party.
A memorial service was held in Chico on August 13. In lieu of flowers, the family is in the process of setting up a scholarship in Joanne’s name. Cards for the family can be sent to Joanne’s daughter, Renee Margolin, at 3777 Royal Mountain Road, Butte Valley, CA 95965.
The home page banner now features a new pull-down menu, “CSUEU Chapters,” linked to chapter web sites. The change is designed to make it easier to navigate to chapter information.
Check out the 7-minute Lobby Day video just posted yesterday to the Legislative Committee’s web page. Detailing the successful CSUEU Lobby Day 2009 last April, it features interviews with many participants, along with footage of training sessions, legislative visits and lessons learned workshops.
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Friday-Monday, September 4-7
CSEA 65th General Council
Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles
Tuesday-Wednesday, September 22-23
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting
Monday, October 12
Wednesday, November 11
Friday-Sunday, November 13-15
CSUEU Board of Directors Meeting
Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza, Sacramento
Tuesday-Wednesday, November 17-18
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting
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See back issues of CSUEU E-News, distributed every other Thursday.
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Categories: CSUEU E-News |
Posted: 8/20/2009 |