CSUEU E-NEWS: January 11, 2017

Cal Maritime custodians speak up and win big, Gov. Brown proposes only partial CSU funding for 2017-18, CSUEU prepares for full contract bargaining, and more...

Biweekly news digest from the California State University Employees Union

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Gov. Brown Proposes Only Partial CSU Funding

In the 2017-18 budget that he unveiled in a press conference yesterday, January 10, Gov. Brown proposed $167 million less than the $324 million in state funds that the CSU trustees have said they need in order for the system to operate at full capacity.

Brown proposed $157 million in CSU funding over the base budget, according to the just-released budget summary. Though that does represent an increase, it still falls far short of the trustees’ budget request. 

“Many problems will inevitably come with state funding that falls so far below the real need,” said CSUEU President Pat Gantt. “The difference will fall on the backs of students and their families in the form of higher tuition and fees. And let’s not forget that the CSU’s ability to offer wage increases to its workforce is tied to state funding.”

From now through May, state budget committees will hold dozens of hearings to review the governor’s proposals. Gov. Brown will release his May Revision by May 14, after which each house of the legislature will finalize its version of the budget. June 15 is the constitutional deadline for lawmakers to pass the budget bill.

 “In tandem with all members of the CSU community,” says Gantt, “we are committed to working with the legislature to augment CSU funding in the final version of the budget bill.”

Read a January 10 article detailing potential impacts of the budget on the Middle Class Scholarship grant program.

CSUEU Prepares For Full Contract Bargaining

With the current contract expiring on June 30, CSUEU and CSU are gearing up for negotiations for the next agreement.

Next week, the two parties plan to trade initial proposals, an exchange known as the sunshine process. Largely a legal requirement, “sunshining” is the first step in negotiations and is required before the parties meet face to face across the bargaining table.

Bargaining teams from both sides will arrange meeting dates and locations over the next few weeks. 

There are now two ways you can stay in the loop on the latest contract bargaining developments:

Cal Maritime Custodians Speak Up and Win Big

Cal Maritime custodians with Chapter 323 President Petronella "Pete" Steyn, center

Late last year, 10 of the 11 CSUEU-represented custodians at CSU Maritime got word that their shifts would be starting three hours later, at 5 a.m. instead of 2 a.m.

That type of big change would bother anyone, but these folks had a special reason for concern: per the contract, their previous shifts of 2 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. had entitled them to receive night shift differentials totaling $2.20 per hour for all eight hours of their shifts.

“I calculated the loss for each custodian,” says Labor Relations Representative Nick Wirz, “and it amounted to between eight and 11 percent!”

Given that the employees’ In-Range Progression requests had been routinely denied for years, this meant the shift change not only amounted to a cut in pay, but a cut after many years of nearly stagnant wages.

How to fight back, particularly since management hadn’t violated the contract, meaning that filing a grievance wasn’t an option?

Those were the questions that newly installed Cal Maritime Chapter 323 President Petronella “Pete” Steyn had for Wirz. And those questions became even more urgent after the two of them made personal, heart-felt appeals to HR administrators, only to be met with inaction.

A letter to the campus president seemed like a logical next step, but that only raised yet another question: which might have more power, a letter from Steyn as an individual or from the entire group of custodians?

Steyn thought a group letter would be the most effective, so Wirz and she soon met with all the impacted workers to draft a letter together.

Nick Wirz

“We discussed the options with the custodians and asked if they would agree to sign the letter,” recalls Wirz. “Everyone agreed and signed, so we scanned it and e-mailed it to the custodial manager, HR, and the campus president. Within a week, their boss asked to meet with the custodians—along with the VP of Finance and HR administrators.”

At the end of the meeting, the managers reiterated that they were going forward with the schedule change—but they then passed out letters to everyone that awarded them IRPs of 12 and 13 percent, more than making up for the loss of the night differential.

“All the custodians gave us hugs and high fives,” says Wirz. “Everyone was very happy and appreciative of their union.”

Comments CSUEU President Pat Gantt, “This is a great example of a customized, campus-specific solution to an issue impacting our workers’ lives. Though this particular scenario may not be precisely replicated at other campuses, there could be alternative site-specific group actions. Maritime custodians have reminded us of the remarkable power of union members who stay united in the face of adversity.”

Contest: Identify the Campus

In selected editions of CSUEU E-News, we show photographs of different CSU campuses and invite readers to identify the campus.

The prize: bragging rights and the thrill of having your name and chapter mentioned in E-News!

To the right is this edition's mystery photo. Click on this thumbnail to see a high-resolution version.

Just to keep it from being too easy, you won't be eligible if you work at the campus depicted in the photo.

Send your entry with "Contest" in the subject line, along with your full name and chapter, to, and good luck!

This Day in History

January 15, 1915: Ralph Chaplin completes the writing of the labor anthem “Solidarity Forever.” He’d begun writing it in 1914 during a miners’ strike in West Virginia. The first verse:

When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong!

On YouTube, hear iconic folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger (1919-2014) sing “Solidarity Forever,” illustrated by a slide show of union history.

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See back issues of CSUEU E-News, distributed every other Thursday.

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