Unions are about a simple proposition: By joining together, working women and men gain strength in numbers so they can have a voice at work about what they care about. They negotiate a contract with their employer for things like a fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement and family-friendly policies such as paid sick leave and scheduling hours. They have a voice in how their jobs get done, creating a more stable, productive workforce that provides better services and products.
As you are aware from the last Bargaining Update, after 10 weeks of bargaining, CSEA refuses to move off of its economic “take away” proposal. This is despite current fiscal relief from Prop 30 and 2012 congressional pension legislation vastly reducing CSEA’s minimum defined pension contribution by millions.
To add insult to injury, the CSEA team has made it clear that they believe you -- the AEU membership -- do not support your AEU negotiations team or the issues that we fight hard to resolve. They believe that you won’t stand up. We believe they will know soon enough our collective resolve for a fair and just contract. We go to battle on behalf of CSEA members everyday. Now we must go to battle for our coworkers, our families and ourselves.
PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND THE CSEA BOARD MEETING IN SAN JOSE ON SATURDAY, JUNE 15TH AT 8:00 A.M. WE MUST STAND TOGETHER NOW.
Why Have We Begun This Public Campaign?
The answer is simple: CSEA has forgotten what it stands for and why it has endured. The current CSEA is not a model for worker treatment. Instead, CSEA has taken to the Corporate Playbook. Workers are expendable. Over the last year in particular, mistreatment is becoming the norm. Wages are less today than four years ago without cost of living increases. Now CSEA wants you to contribute to health care and pension “just because.”
CSEA claims it has a “structural deficit” Fact: CSEA spent $7,154,967 less than what it received in CSEA member dues for 2011-2012.
During the 2010 negotiations, CSEA projected that its minimum pension contribution would fall between $12-15 million for years 2012/13 and 2013/14. Fact: CSEA paid under $7 million in 2012/13 year. It is projected to be even lower for 2013/14.
CSEA claims that despite the reduction/elimination of 30 bargaining unit positions over the last two years, in addition to increased duties and “goals,” that work load issues don’t exist. Fact: We know the difficult struggle made worse by political campaigns – and so do they. Yet, “workload issues don’t exist.”
The economic and workload realities divide us at the table with our union employer. Away from the table WE MUST FIGHT FOR OURSELVES and the very integrity of CSEA itself.
CSEA Refuses To Move Off Of Its “Takeaway” Proposal
Mediation concluded today without reaching agreement over a successor contract.
The existing contract offer from CSEA is a “takeaway” contract that will result -- for the first time ever -- in some AEU members, especially those with family coverage, paying a portion of their medical premiums. In addition, the employer is proposing a reduction in retiree medical benefits.
CSEA’s proposal requires employee contributions to the pension plan of up to 5% over three years.
CSEA’s offer amounts to a net reduction in employee compensation.
CSEA’s offer fails to: protect the integrity of bargaining unit work; reduce employee workload; continue pre-existing practices concerning donations of sick leave hours to AEU members in need; provide adequate bereavement leave, or implement reasonable meal and vehicle allowances.
CSEA argues that despite years of no wage increases, AEU members have not sacrificed enough.
Central to its unreasonable position is CSEA’s unsupported and unsupportable characterization of its fiscal condition and the funding status and costs of the pension plan. Both the organization and the pension plan enjoy sufficient assets and growth potential to comfortably meet AEU’s bargaining demands for economic equity.
We appreciate your continued support and readiness to respond as needed to support AEU’s struggle for your economic and working security.
Professional negotiator and AEU counsel Chris Platten will be in attendance at the General Membership meeting and will provide a report on the key facts underlying the negotiations up to this point on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
CSEA Attempts to Play “Hard Ball” – AEU Continues to Bargain
CSEA opened up negotiations on May 21, 2013 with the dramatic gesture of presenting AEU with a written 30-day notice that it will not extend contract negotiations beyond June 30th, regardless of where we are in the bargaining process. In contrast, AEU started today’s negotiations on a more positive note by making yet another attempt to reasonably resolve real workload issues.
Workload Survey Results Rebuffed
AEU attempted to share the recent workload survey results – anonymously – with CSEA. However, CSEA explicitly stated that it had no interest in hearing anything in the surveys unless AEU provided names and documentation to substantiate your claims of workload issues. CSEA stated that the AEU team might as well stop sharing the survey results since CSEA did not want to hear it unless AEU gave CSEA specific activity and expense sheets. AEU Spokesperson and legal counsel Chris Platten instructed Prezioso that he could “shut his ears if he doesn’t want to hear it” and asked AEU team members to continue reading the compelling information about the effects of unreasonable workload and working conditions that many of you reported. The AEU remains steadfast in seeking workload relief.
The parties are now down to a few core issues. The non-economic issues are: workload issues (e.g. the use of project organizers, temporary employees, and interns); in lieu days; use of personal necessity days, and unilateral changes in the means of filling vacancies (e.g. change of job duties, descriptions, and titles when flown outside without conferring with AEU as required under Article 1.)
AEU Calls For A Federal Mediator
The parties remain far apart on economic issues, including salaries, health and welfare, retirement, and expense reimbursement. The last few negotiations sessions have made it clear that CSEA will not move off its (concessionary) position without outside assistance. Without wasting further time, your AEU Bargaining Team is calling for the involvement of a third party federal mediator to help trigger more productive discussions and progress toward a TA when the parties meet again on May 28-29, 2013.
We stand firm and will keep you closely apprised.
Despite efforts by AEU's bargaining team to reduce the outstanding non-economic issues to only a few key articles, little was accomplished at the table on May 15, 2013 besides executing one previously agreed to tentative agreement. AEU steadfastly maintains that workload and its far reaching impacts cannot continue to go unaddressed. Management’s deferral to Article 7.12 for individual LRR workload issues for example simply falls short of reality as an effective solution. Inadequate staffing levels directly impact service to CSEA members and cannot be ignored. The survey responses document excessive work levels and the negative effects including compelling impact on the ability to maintain health and engage in a personal life.
AEU submitted a revised proposal to clarify in lieu days as a more effective means for workload relief. In response, management proffered a late proposal radically altering the time in lieu provisions of Article 7.11.6. CSEA’s language effectively results in an employee losing the in lieu day if the employee does not schedule its use, and notify the employer of such scheduling, within five days of earning the in lieu day. Management justified this proposal on the grounds that the practice of providing in lieu time off is a “nightmare” and that it does not want to “feed and diaper” employees to be sure they take an in lieu day.
Of course, for AEU represented employees, working Saturdays and Sundays in addition to an already demanding regular work week is a “nightmare” too . . . but evidently, the “nightmare” for AEU members doesn't count in management's view. We don’t need a “bottle,” CSEA – we need to be able to balance work requirements with qualify of life.
We will be responding on this matter at the next negotiations meeting set for May 21, 2013. Please continue to send in your survey responses to any team member. Your input is crucial. AEU maintains its proposals on salary, health care and pension. If necessary, bargaining sessions are also scheduled for May 28 and 29.
The parties met for three days on April 24, 25, and 26, 2013. Negotiations continued to narrow issues as the parties made more headway on important non-economic subjects prior to the pivotal economic items to come.
Progress on Several Articles
Article 8 Overtime: The parties reached agreement on a new comp time provision. CSEA agreed to provide the option of compensation time in lieu of overtime for non-exempt employees. The time must be taken in the same pay period that it is earned in order to be legal under federal law.
Article 9 Vacations: The parties agreed on status quo. CSEA also provided assurances that when it is necessary to cancel a vacation for emergency reasons it will reimburse the employee for any non-refundable vacation costs incurred by the cancellation. CSEA declined to agree to put this in the contract without specific examples when non-refundable vacation costs were not reimbursed in the past.
Article 10 Leaves of Absence: Effort has been made by both parties to clarify the rights and obligations of the parties regarding suspected sick leave abuse including when it is appropriate to issue a “warning letter” at 10.2.3, and to limit employer medical exams at 10.4.2 to comport with existing law.
Article 15 Job Reclassification: CSEA withdrew its proposals to significantly alter the reclass process and authority of the Panel. The parties agreed to status quo but for a change in the month when reclassification requests must be submitted and the month when the Panel will meet. Requests will now be accepted in January (rather than August) and the Panel will meet in February (rather than September) to better accommodate the CSEA budget cycle. CSEA also agreed to “do the right thing” and implement the 2012 Panel decision retroactive to the applicable date for the member who has been waiting for the range increase since November 1, 2012.
Article 17 Discipline: Agreement has been reached on improvements to Article 17 including the definition of discipline consistent with progressive disciplinary principles but no T.A. has yet been signed. A Side Letter of Agreement was reached that clarifies that a letter of warning is not a form of discipline and that Operating Procedure 2A will be modified to reflect that agreement. (Op 2A currently states “letter of warning/reprimand” that has created confusion whether a letter of warning has the same disciplinary force as a written reprimand.) It is hoped that the side letter can expedite resolution of pending grievances on the issue of the disciplinary meaning of a letter of warning. It is now clarified that the letter of warning serves as notice of future expectation for which non-compliance could result in discipline. It is not disciplinary itself. The letter does not go in the personnel file.
Article 19 Grievance Procedure: Agreement on significant revisions to the grievance process was reached but time constraints prohibited the actual execution of a signed T.A. which will be forthcoming. The limitations period for filing a grievance remains four (4) months and the arbitration level is completely revamped to include two arbitration panels: one for all disciplinary grievances and one for all non-disciplinary grievances. Both parties shared the desire to make the grievance process more efficient. Major effort was expended by both CSEA and AEU to succeed in this goal.
Article 29 Personnel Records and Performance Evaluation: Agreement was reached to clarify that training needs may require testing and examination which are not to be used for discipline, pay raises, or transfers and shall not be placed in the employee's personnel file. CSEA provided lengthy explanation regarding its affidavit to the NLRB that prior testing was for assessment of training needs and/or professional development of the employee and that such examinations were never intended to be used for disciplinary purposes.
Anti Workplace Bullying: A Side Letter was reached to establish a joint AEU/CSEA committee to develop and recommend a procedure to prevent workplace bullying to the Executive Director. DFO Pace underscored that ED Low does not want a culture of bullying at CSEA. AEU had previously presented survey statistics that reflected significant concern about the rising incidents of workplace bullying by management, co-workers and CSEA members. AEU is encouraged that CSEA has taken the initiative to get out front of this problem by agreeing to the joint committee. The work of the committee is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2013.
Meal Reimbursement: CSEA further acknowledged the appropriateness of consistent meal reimbursement standards but also maintained that management has considerable discretion outside any set parameters under Operating Procedure 6.
Workload: The parties engaged in extensive discussion on workload issues mostly aimed at the field. CSEA believes there are no “coverage” issues for LRR’s. When on vacation, DFO Pace said that the LRR should basically shut down their service area but for emergency matters that may arise which will be addressed by the field director. CSEA asserted that the LRR can apply Article 7.12 to address service area workload issues with the field director. DFO Keith Pace stated that if and when a field director fails to work with the LRR under 7.12 “he wants to know about it.” Pace believes the LRR should be more pro-active in addressing his/her legitimate workload issues. AEU continues to seek agreement on new language at Article 26 (Transfers, Promotions and Demotions) that permits the parties to timely meet and discuss workload issues caused by vacancies that are not filled within 30 days without unnecessary dispute.
In Lieu Days: CSEA maintained its position that it does not have to order an in lieu day when the employee fails to timely schedule and take the day and that the day could be lost. DFO Keith Pace believes that the onus is on the employee to take the day in a “use it or lose it” approach. CSEA asserted that 90 days, in addition to the potential extension of 30 days currently stated in the contract, is sufficient time.
Donated Sick Leave: CSEA continued to reject AEU’s proposal to incorporate donated sick leave eligibility criteria in existence since 1990 into the contract. It is the position of current CSEA management that it is under no obligation to divulge the internal criteria it uses to determine who will or won’t be granted donated sick leave under the “mutual agreement” requirement at Article 10.3.3. It is AEU’s position that the employee who has earned the sick leave should determine who they wish to donate it to when uniform criteria is met. AEU does not believe that the job security provided by this type of leave when a person is medically disabled should be related in any way to whether the current CSEA management “likes” an employee or not, or whether in their view, an employee is “a good employee” especially when poor performance is not documented in the personnel file. AEU further does not agree that CSEA management should have unfettered discretion by refusing to agree to established eligibility criteria. Such a position appears inconsistent with most CSEA member contracts incorporating this subject.
AEU anticipates further polling of the membership on these and other issues prior to the commencement of the next bargaining session on May 15, 2013.
Economic Issues to Come
After some five weeks of negotiations, the parties will meet on the next available date of May 15th. The parties will address the remaining non-economic issues and the important and pivotal economic issues and concerns. We anticipate providing the membership with a complete update after the 15th. The parties have also scheduled additional dates for bargaining on May 28, 29th as needed.
Continued progress on contract articles
On April 17-18, negotiations on language improvements continued at the table. Major effort was spent on improving the efficiency of Article 19 (Grievance Procedure), but no T.A. has yet been reached. Three tentative agreements to sustain the status quo were reached on Article 5 (New Employees), Article 6 (Probationary Period) and Article 28 (Rights of the Union). The parties reached agreement on Article 16 (Lay-off) regarding bumping rights including improved notice and clarity of the bumping procedure. AEU also presented a new proposal to provide the option of compensatory time in lieu of paid overtime for non-exempt staff which is currently under consideration by CSEA.
AEU seeks solutions to workplace issues
As reflected by AEU's April 18, 2013, comprehensive proposal, AEU continues to make every effort to engage CSEA in substantive problem solving before moving to the economic proposals. Significant issues that warrant appropriate dialog include: unreasonable workload levels; non-discriminatory application of donated sick leave; progressive disciplinary procedures; uniform criteria for meal reimbursement and activity/expense reporting, and last but not least -- the need to establish a workplace anti-bulling policy against the alarming rise in incidents during the last year. The global concern is that CSEA appears to be moving away from an exemplary model of how workers should be treated. This is deeply troubling to staff because of the work we do to maintain the highest worker standards for CSEA members every day.
Better dialog did occur this week including Article 15 (Reclassifications). CSEA proposed substantive changes to the reclass process that would allow it to bargain the Panel’s decision and effects if it did not like it. This includes the right to take the dispute to arbitration if the parties could not reach agreement. To their credit, the CSEA withdrew that proposal and agreed in good faith to take a more substantive look at the article as well as resolve an outstanding issue lingering from the 2012 Panel decision. The Panel determined to increase the salary range for one member to fairly compensate him for new work outside the job description, but CSEA has not agreed to implement the Panel’s determination since November 1, 2012.
Issues like this as well as the serious problems of unfilled vacancies and an increase in discipline outside of just cause and progressive disciplinary principles cannot go unresolved. The health of CSEA as a union as well as the health of its staff hangs in the balance.
AEU and CSEA continued negotiations on April 10-11, narrowing the non-economic issues on the table. The parties made progress toward tentative agreements on several articles. Significant work was accomplished this week on the following issues:
Sick leave rights
10.2.3 -- Premature discipline for suspected sick leave abuse: Proposals were exchanged regarding improved parameters that allow the worker to demonstrate the leave was used for the appropriate purpose before a disciplinary letter of warning may issue. AEU takes the position that an employee should not receive a letter of warning for excessive use of sick leave when they need to use their earned sick leave for bona fide illness, injury or other medical need.
Elimination of medical exams
10.4.2 -- Elimination of employer medical exams for workers returning from the 39 month list: Proposals were exchanged to better reflect current law that protects employees from intrusive inquiries about their medical details.
Disciplinary action limits
17.3 -- Two year limitations period for bringing disciplinary action: Proposals were exchanged to clarify the meaning of the two year rule.
Due process for member complaints
17.7.1-- Improved CSEA member complaint procedure: AEU believes the contract should provide sufficient due process that allows the target of the complaint to know both its existence and substance.
Improved grievance procedure
19. 3.1, 19.4.1, 19.4.2, 19.6.1 - 19.6.6 - Improved grievance machinery: Comprehensive proposals were exchanged to improve the efficiency of the grievance process including the potential creation of a contractual panel of arbitrators in order to significantly reduce the time it takes to secure an arbitration decision when one is necessary.
Tentative agreements on two articles
AEU and CSEA also had a substantive dialog regarding uniform standards for expense/activity reporting (Concur) and meal reimbursement criteria, and notice and bumping related to layoff. Two minor tentative agreements were signed off on Articles 8 and 12. To view a list of tentative agreements go here.
AEU members in the North Bay Field Office show off their "I am AEU" buttons.
I am AEU
The Bargaining Committee would like to thank the Bargaining Council comprised of the statewide stewards for their effort to get us facts that directly assisted in improved dialog at the table. The Committee would also like to thank the membership for the statewide show of support this week through the successful launch of the I am AEU campaign. Some 70 Headquarters Brothers and Sisters surrounded us wearing the I am AEU button during both days of negotiations. The North Bay staff encouraged us even more when they texted in the “We are AEU” picture above!
AEU remains cautiously optimistic that labor and management will reach good faith internal compromise in the current climate that will allow both parties to emerge united in the greater fight for improving worker rights and benefits. Fair and equitable improvements for both CSEA and AEU members are available since the victory of Proposition 30. The AEU staff is working hard to restore prior concessions suffered by CSEA members prior to Prop. 30. We think this same goal should extend within CSEA’s own house -- without a bloody fight, without hypocrisy and consistent with the core values of unionism reflected by the true CSEA.
Support AEU, the internal staff union of the CSEA serving CSEA members throughout the State of California for over 45 years.
As you know, AEU has begun negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement with CSEA. This contract has important implications for every AEU member. It’s now time to show our unity and collective support for AEU’s proposals by EVERYONE wearing the I AM AEU button.
The I Am AEU campaign is about putting a face to the work each of us does every day to make a difference in the lives of the CSEA members we serve. We are not a line on a financial report or a 1% salary factor in a pension actuarial projection. We are not an expendable commodity that can be adjusted at will to meet management’s priorities. We are dedicated professionals. We are union people who believe in union principles. We are families who feel the impact of unfilled positions when work load causes us to miss a birthday; the pinch of not keeping up with the cost of living on our wages, and the loss of retirement security by unnecessary pension cuts.
Please wear your I AM AEU button starting on Wednesday, April 10th in support for AEU’s proposals to stop further concessions, restore unnecessary losses and attain fair and equitable gains now possible since the school fiscal drought has ended.
You can download and print this information in flyer format here.
The parties met twice this week on April 3 - 4 to continue negotiations primarily over outstanding non-economic issues. Full and frank exchanges occurred between the bargaining teams and gradual, but substantive progress was made on several articles, however, much remains to be done involving key non-economic issues including the impact of unfilled vacancies and use of temporary workers; adherence to progressive discipline and due process principles; meaningful grievance resolution; uniform criteria for donated sick leave; uniform activity/expense reporting (Concur) and meal reimbursement criteria; lawful employer mandated medical examinations and the growing concern regarding appropriate worker treatment/anti-bullying.
In addition, the AEU team proffered several more information requests to CSEA regarding economic matters to be resolved. Chief among these include information requests verifying existing bargaining unit costs and investment performance and asset allocation policies of the pension plan. Wages, health care and pension benefits and other compensation issues are critical areas for bargaining once the non-economic issues are resolved or greatly narrowed.
Your AEU bargaining team will continue the negotiating process next week on April 10-11, and we are hopeful that significant progress can be made on the non-economic issues on the table. The team also looks forward to receiving the information requested from CSEA as soon as practicable.
The team is requesting a statewide show of support. Please wear your I AM AEU button that will be delivered to you by your steward on Monday or Tuesday, April 8-9. Finally, the AEU team anticipates additional short survey questions directly linked to the progress at the table. Please be on the look-out for AEU communication requesting your responses through email and your steward.
We will keep you informed.
The AEU and CSEA negotiating teams met March 27-28, and continued to discuss proposals for a successor agreement to our contract. The AEU team fulfilled its due diligence in the bargaining process by securing detailed information from CSEA regarding its economic proposals. AEU also presented its full set of proposals -- both economic and language proposals. The entire set can be viewed here.
AEU has proposed a four-year contract with meaningful wage increases each year, a full restoration of retirement benefits, security for health and welfare benefits, increased meal and car allowance, and better contract language – including strong protections against workplace bullying. All of the AEU proposals stemmed from feedback provided by AEU members in the bargaining survey.
Highlights of AEU’s initial proposal:
Salary: AEU has proposed a 5.0% wage increase each year for the duration of the contract.
Retirement: AEU has proposed restoring retirement benefits to the level that they were two years ago. That is full restoration of the 2.275% benefit calculation and elimination of the current two tier system including retiree health and welfare.
Health and Welfare: AEU has proposed keeping health and welfare benefits at their current level, fully paid by the employer with no cap.
Reimbursements: AEU has proposed increasing the meal allowance to $40 (same as CSEA members daily per-diem ). AEU also proposed increasing the car allowance by $50 per month starting June 1, 2015.
Worker Protections: AEU proposed implementing new contract language to stop intimidation in the workplace. In the AEU Bargaining Survey, 46% of AEU members said they were bullied on the job or witnessed bullying on the job. As many as 37% of AEU members said they experienced threats on the job.
Other Non-Economic Issues: Various non-economic issues were proposed that address working conditions and also clarify procedures and process in Articles 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 33. In addition, AEU and CSEA reached tentative agreement on 9 other Articles where there is no change to current contract language. The parties further reached agreement on 4 Articles that have no economic impact including elimination of the Emeritus Program at Article 34. More information on those tentative agreements is available here.
The negotiating team is optimistic in the progress we are making at the bargaining table. We are also very pleased with the support we are receiving from the AEU membership and beyond. Please continue to demonstrate AEU strength and unity. Wear the new “I am AEU” button, which will be distributed in the near future. Join more than 50 other AEU members who have joined our Facebook group. Ask questions. Stay involved. And remember, solidarity makes us stronger.
Let Them Eat Cake
Just hours after CSEA management handed out cake and praised the hard work of AEU members at Wednesday’s Employee of the Year event; they entered negotiations and demanded takeaways from all AEU members.
Last year, AEU members worked harder than ever to represent CSEA members in chapters throughout the state and to lead the successful campaign to pass Proposition 30. CSEA President Allan Clark declared that the days of concessions were over for CSEA members. “We need to restore programs, put an end to furloughs, restore pay cuts, bring classified employees back to work,” he said.
Which CSEA are we dealing with?
As AEU labor reps bargain to secure better pay and benefits for CSEA members, they are being asked to accept reductions and takeaways from their own employer. It is an ironic hypocrisy for a labor union that prides itself on championing the rights of workers.
CSEA is asking all AEU members to pay up to 5% out-of-pocket for their retirement benefits. CSEA is also asking for punitive cap on health benefits for active AEU members and retirees. And that’s just the beginning.
So, which CSEA is representing these anti-worker values? It’s not the CSEA rank and file members. It’s not the local member leaders. It’s not even the members on the state board of directors. It is CSEA’s upper-level management. They are lead by Director of Field Operations Keith Pace. Their chief spokesperson is former Field Director Patrick Prezioso, who came out of retirement for negotiations. Also at the table is Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kumataka, Chief Counsel Michael Clancy, Human Resources Director Brian Schroeder, Communications Director Frank Polito, Rancho Cucamonga Field Office Director Denise Jensen, Fresno Field Office Director Michael Parks and Executive Manager Chris Swanson.
For the past seven years, AEU has shared the pain of budget cuts for CSEA members. Now, as the funding for schools has finally begun to stabilize, the message from CSEA management is still based on concessions. Yet, they seem puzzled that AEU members want more for themselves and their families than cuts.
AEU Goes Mobile / Social
Rejoice smart phone users—your days of pinching and dragging are over! You can now access a mobile version of the AEU website that puts our most commonly used features in an easy to use mobile-friendly format. You can also keep up to date with the latest by checking our facebook and twitter accounts. Read More...
The website is currently going through a lot of updates and revisions. If response time is slow on the website this is likely why. We have started updating numerous sections of the website making the site more user friendly and current. Read More...