Complaint States UC Failed to Bargain with Union

California Board Claims UC Failed to Meet Its Obligations to Conduct Negotiations with UPTE

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Correction Appended

California's Public Employment Relations Board issued a complaint Nov. 23 against the University of California for allegedly bargaining in bad faith during negotiations with the University Professional and Technical Employees union.

In the complaint, the board chastised the university for allegedly refusing to bargain with the union-which represents nearly 10,000 UC employees-over the UC systemwide employee furlough program, budget cuts and layoffs, as well as the cancellation of several bargaining sessions.

"The university has failed in every possible way to meet its legal obligations to bargain with us," said Jelger Kalmijn, systemwide president for the University Professional and Technical Employees union.

He added that the complaint validated strikes the union staged May 6, Sept. 24 and during the recent three-day student strike Nov. 18 to 20 because the union took legal action to address unfair labor practices by the university.

According to California state law, the university is required to provide an answer to the complaint within 20 days of the date of the complaint.

UC spokesperson Peter King said he was unaware of the complaint, but he added that university officials value all their workers and categorically deny that the administration has negotiated in bad faith.

"We've talked with them for quite some time," he said. "There have been negotiations off and on, and it has been moving forward."

King added that negotiating with the union has always been a difficult process due to the extensive bureaucratic process involved, and the dire financial situation of the university-including $637.1 million cut in state funding this year-adds to the difficulty of the situation.

Following the university's response to the complaint, Kalmijn said a conference will likely be scheduled to reach a settlement between the union and the university. If a settlement is not reached, the union will have to prove the university violated state law in a court hearing.

Recognizing the university's tough financial circumstances, Kalmijn said he hopes the complaint will get the university to be realistic and understand it needs to work to improve communication with the union.

"Our goal is not to beat up on the university," Kalmijn said. "Our goal is to have them sit down and bargain a reasonable contract that serves the university well and serves our members well."

Tanya Smith, president of UPTE Local 1, said the ruling by the Public Employment Relations Board that states the university bargained in bad faith is an important first step, but it is only one step toward ensuring the university will lawfully bargain with the union.

"(The university) creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for the employees who work here," Smith said. "University management is very cavalier about breaking the law."

But she added that she still had hope that the union and the university could ultimately settle their differences.

"I hope that (the complaint) improves the university's behavior at the bargaining table," Smith said. "I can't say that I have faith that it will, but I certainly think that it's a step in the right direction."

Tags: CALIFORNIA PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD, UNIVERSITY PROFESSIONAL & TECHNICAL EMPLOYEES

Correction: Tuesday, February 9, 2010
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that state funding to the UC was reduced by $813 million this year, in fact state funding was reduced by $637.1 million

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]



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