Bargaining FAQ

Q:Why do the Union and the University bargain?

In 1978, the California legislature passed a collective bargaining law called the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA). It requires the University to bargain whenever it wants to make changes in wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment.

Q:How does bargaining work? Do the Union and the Employer just sit in a room and argue?

Bargaining involves each side making written proposals to each other and responding to the other side's proposals. Each side presents arguments and evidence in favor of their proposals. They make one draft after another until they reach a version that both sides can agree upon.

Q:Who is affected by bargaining?

All employees in the bargaining units represented by CSEA (2, 5, 7 and 9) are affected by our bargaining with the CSU.

Q:What is impasse?

Impasse means that the parties have reached a point in bargaining at which their differences in positions are such that further negotiations would be futile. Under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA), either the CSU and/or the CSUEU submits a petition to the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) contending that an impasse exists. PERB reviews the petition and makes a determination as to whether or not an impasse exists. If PERB agrees that there is an impasse, the first step is mediation. If PERB decides that an impasse does not exist, the parties must return to the bargaining table to resume negotiations.

Q:How often does mediation or fact-finding result in settlements?

According to PERB, over the last ten years, 84% of mediation sessions resulted in settlements and 74% of all fact-finding sessions resulted in settlements.

Q:What if mediation fails to reach an agreement?

If the parties do not reach a settlement within 15 days after the mediator's appointment, the mediator can declare fact-finding to be an appropriate way to resolve the dispute. Fact-finding is the second and final step in the impasse procedures set forward in HEERA. Fact-finding is a formal process conducted by a three-person panel: one selected by CSUEU, one selected by CSU, and a neutral chairperson mutually selected by the parties from a list of arbitrators. The fact-finding panel holds hearings and considers the information provided by the parties. If the fact-finding process doesn't result in a resolution of the disputes, the three-person panel will issue a report. This report is confidential for ten days and serves as a vehicle for settlement. If a settlement is not reached within the ten-day period, the report becomes public. The recommendations of the fact-finding panel are advisory, however.

Q:How does the mediation process work?

If PERB declares that an impasse exists, the State Mediation and Conciliation Service appoints a mediator to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.

Q:What can I do to help?

If you're a fee payer, join the union. If you're a union member, write letters and petitions demanding a fair contract. Participate in rallies and other contract events. Volunteer to help distribute fliers and petitions.

Q:What else helps get the two sides to agree on a contract?

CSU employees play a major part. The University needs the staff to get work done. If they are unhappy or angry, they can take job actions up to and including a strike (under HEERA, strikes are permitted when no contract is in effect). When employees speak up for their union's proposals, they influence the campus presidents and CSU Trustees.

Q:What is the composition of the bargaining team and how are members selected?

CSUEU represents four bargaining units of CSU employees - Unit 2, Health Care Support; Unit 5, Operations Support; Unit 7, Administrative Support; and Unit 9, Technical Support. Every two years, CSUEU members elect one representative from each unit on each campus.

Out of a potential 24 campus bargaining unit representatives for each of the four units, eight are elected to serve on a statewide bargaining unit council. The chair and vice chair of each bargaining unit council are elected by their respective bargaining unit council and they serve on the union's bargaining team. The bargaining councils prepare bargaining proposals and handle the statewide interests of each bargaining unit. The Vice President for Representation coordinates the work of the four bargaining unit councils. The President of Local 2579 also serves as a member of the bargaining team. The union's chief negotiator is a paid labor relations professional who works for the CSU Employees Union.

See the complete list of the current bargaining team members.

Q:Why doesn't the CSU just wait for unilateral implementation every time?

The law requires the two sides to bargain in good faith. That means they must show that they honestly considered the proposals of the other side and tried to come to an agreement. If they do not do this, they can be charged with an unfair labor practice before PERB.

Q:What is the difference between a union contract and a memorandum of understanding?

There is no difference. HEERA uses the latter to refer to a contract.

Q:Does the fact-finding report become the contract?

No. It is just a recommendation. The two sides can decide to use the report to continue bargaining but they are not required to do anything other than publish the report.

Q:What if they cannot agree after fact-finding?

The employer is allowed to implement its last, best and final offer by unilateral implementation. This is not the fact-finding report, but the proposals they had on the table when they went to impasse. The employer can implement all, some, or none of its proposals.