UC reaches tentative agreement with health care, research and technical employees

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After more than two years of bargaining, the University of California announced Sunday that it reached a tentative agreement on labor contracts for the system’s more than 12,000 researchers, technical employees and health care professionals.

University Professional and Technical Employees Local 9119 — a union representing technical and professional employees, two bargaining groups at the university — is expected to vote on the tentative multiyear contracts this week. The contracts include wage increases of 11.5 to 13 percent as well as gradual increases over four years. The tentative agreements would also preserve a single-tier pension plan for both groups, supported by an additional wage contribution from workers.

“The historic agreement is a commitment to preserving the University of California as the world’s premiere academic institution,” said the union’s president, Jelger Kalmijn, in a statement. “Our bargaining team made a responsible proposal to contribute an additional 1 percent to the pension fund in exchange for the UC agreeing to keep all members on a single plan, and UC has agreed.”

The university previously proposed a two-tier pension plan that would split employees into two categories of benefit eligibility, but the union rejected this plan, claiming it would reduce benefits for current and future employees. Instead, both health care and technical employee groups would participate in the university’s modified single-tier pension benefits, contributing 8.6 and 9 percent of pay to the plan, respectively.

Medical center employees would see a 5.5 percent wage increase in January 2014 and a 2 percent annual increase over the following three years. Student health center employees, on the other hand, would experience a 4 percent increase in the same time frame, followed by a 2 to 3 percent increase over the next three years. Research and technical employees’ wages would increase by 4 percent and increase 3 percent annually until October 2016.

Once ratified, the comprehensive contracts for union-represented workers will run through 2017.

“It has been a long road, and we are pleased that we have been able to work through the issues and negotiate fair terms for our hardworking employees,” said Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president of human resources, in a press release Sunday.

In a joint letter signed by Kalmijn and Duckett, the parties agreed to place the negotiation of settlements as the highest priority. According to the letter, the union would not “engage in any strike activity,” and the university agreed to not implement its contract proposals while the union prepares to put the tentative agreement to a vote.

The union was involved in a two-day health worker strike with the the university’s largest union — American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 — during the summer, protesting the university’s recent changes to its pension plans for employees.

“Finding cures for cancer or heart disease, creating the next version of the internet or understanding global warming, require long-term dedication of knowledgeable staff,” said Wendi Felson, the union’s chief bargainer and a former UC health care professional, in a statement. “Retirement security is a crucial part of what draws these staff to UC.”

Contact Jeff Landa at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JeffLanda.