|Union Demonstration against imposed terms, July 26, 2013|
First, some legalities and background: Last summer, UC declared an impasse in its negotiations with AFSCME 3299, the union that held a two-day strike in the spring. Under state law governing collective bargaining (a statute for UC and CSU known as HEERA), once an impasse exists, an employer can unilaterally impose terms and conditions. Note that the determination of an impasse can be fuzzy. In this case, the union filed unfair labor practice charges against UC in connection with the dispute and strike. The charges involve interrogation of particular employees about their stance – which might be viewed as illegal coercion since employees have a right to strike and act collectively. The charges also cite statements by UC officials suggesting that discipline could be imposed for strike participation. All these allegation have yet to be reviewed by the Public Employment Relations Board, i.e., there has been no final decision. But the Board did issue a complaint – which means that the charges were not found in an initial review to be without merit. Were PERB to conclude that unfair labor practices did occur, the university’s position that an impasse had been reached might unravel, as would its imposition of terms and conditions.
You can find the PERB complaint at:
One of the items the union is protesting is the changes in the UC pension plan that the Regents decided upon in 2010. Below is an excerpt from the Sacramento Bee:
The bare-knuckles contract brawl between the University of California and one of its larger unions has entered the next round, with an announcement Tuesday that AFSCME Local 3299 is planning to take a strike vote at the end of this month. The union represents some 22,000 employees who provide staff support and medical services at UC hospitals. Contract talks have been deadlocked for more than a year.AFSCME officials have said they are pressing for changes to policies that waste public money and put public health at risk. The university counters that AFSCME’s concerns are a smokescreen to hide its real agenda to curtail pension changes that other unions have already accepted. …AFSCME’s move comes after the Public Employees Relations Board last month charged the UC system with intimidating employees who participated in another strike last summer…
Napolitano is planning to meet with AFSCME leaders soon… as part of her effort to meet various UC constituencies as she learns her new job, but “not to collectively bargain.”
[Editorial note from yours truly: We seem to be in a season in which presidents announce they don’t negotiate.]