University of California could reach agreement with more than 45,000 employees since May

Since May 30, the University of California has reached agreement on or awaits ratification of contracts with unions representing more than 45,000 workers across the system.

The multiyear contracts span five unions, which represent workers across fields including the university police force, lecturers and nurses.

The university has reached contract agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 — a union representing about 20,000 patient care and service workers — and the total approximately 12,600 employees represented by the UC-American Federation of Teachers, the Federated University Police Officers Association and the California Nurses Association. Most recently, the university has tentatively agreed to a contract with the Coalition of University Employees, a union of clerical workers.

The five-year contract would affect about 12,500 university employees, and will be voted on by union members between Nov. 18 and Dec. 9.

As its contract with the university expires this year, CUE has been in negotiations with the university longer than any of the other unions, according to Amatullah Alaji-Sabrie, chief negotiator for CUE Teamsters Local 2010.

The new contract will include aggregate pay increases over the term of the contract of between 20 percent and 28 percent, based on years of service. All employees will receive a 3 percent across the board pay increase every year after the first year of the contract until the fifth year, when they will receive a 2 percent increase. The wage increases are compounding.

Along with salary increases, beginning in April 2012, the minimum salary rate will be set at $13.70 per hour and will be increased to $14.22 in April 2013.

The contract will also change employee contribution to the UC Retirement Program. Upon ratification and implementation of the salary increases, employees will begin contributing a total of 3.5 percent of their salary to the program. In July 2012, the total contribution will jump to 6.5 percent, and employees hired after July 2013 will have to contribute 7 percent of their salaries to the program.

Currently, the union is organizing the ratification vote, Alaji-Sabrie said. She said if the contract is not ratified, there will be a strike vote.

“We are optimistic that our colleagues will see that this is the best agreement that we can reach with the university,” she said. “It is an opportunity to put money into the pockets of the people we represent, because we have been waiting a long time.”

Alaji-Sabrie added that the contract was the best agreement the union could reach given the current economic climate.

The other recent agreements between unions and the university reflect the CUE negotiations. According to a Nov. 8 UC Office of the President press release, the agreements will make most of UC’s union-represented employees pay the same health insurance rates and make the same pension contributions in the coming year as the general UC employee population. Additionally, the university will continue to pay about 87 percent of health costs and increase its pension contributions this year and next year.

UC Vice President of Human Resources Dwayne Duckett could not be reached for comment as of press time, but in the press release he stated that the agreements work to produce “a more stable, predictable labor relations environment.”

 

Damian Ortellado covers higher education.