Bargaining & Pensions

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 448

Every time I update my ‘days without a contract’ counter I get angry. There’s no reason this should have last 448 days. 448 days. It wasn’t that any of the bargaining teams were inflexible; the one thing I keep hearing from ACsEs, the NTTs, the FA — and from my experience bargaining with GAU — is that we’re the ones bringing multiple proposals to the table. The administration teams have not. And despite Cheng’s misinformation in the DE’s otherwise fairly mild and informative article on the state of unions on campus and nationally, there were bargaining meetings over the summer. She mentions “four meetings,” which is just strange. I assume she’s thinking of one particular bargaining unit… but it certainly wasn’t GAU. We met: May 24th, June 1st, June 14th, July 13th (a long break necessitated mostly by the schedules of the administration’s team), and August 2nd. After August 2nd, we had another long break (again, mostly necessary because of administrative schedules); our most recent meeting was last Friday.

But the point hasn’t been the number of sessions. The way it stands, we could meet 8 hours a day, every day, and still see no progress. The university administration wants a very specific contract deal that really guts the employee voice and control over terms of employment and haven’t authorized bargaining teams to sign off on anything but that. It’s become a zero-sum game for Chancellor Cheng — if anyone makes a gain, she loses. So she has to win and we have to lose. Bargaining shouldn’t be a zero-sum game; it should be about mutual problem solving. They have a problem with X, we have a problem with Y, let’s put our heads together and find a solution that benefits both of us.

That hasn’t been happening. We’re at least 365 (if not the full 448) days past that kind of bargaining. Unfortunately, it means we need to start playing the same kind of game the administration has played all along — power politics. Right now, they believe we have no power. Strike authorization votes by each local — saying we understand nothing is going to change without collective action — is a power move. It sends the strong message that we’re tired of this dragging on, we’re tired of top-down imposition, we want our contracts settled. That’s a powerful message — and one the administration needs to hear.

All right! Moving off the soapbox and into political news: the IEA reports that pension meetings started up this week. It looks like SB512, which lobbying in the spring stopped from coming to a full vote will be back in some form. Worse, people advocating benefit cuts are also targeting active members in the pension for benefit cuts — not just increased contributions. The veto session starts October 25th so you might want to start calling your legislators now and let them know where you stand.

Upcoming Events:
Friday September 23, 10-2: Informational Tabling in the Student Center
Monday September 26, 10-2: Informational Tabling in the Student Center
Tuesday September 27, 10-2: Informational Tabling in the Student Center
Wednesday September 28: Faculty Association Strike Authorization Vote
Friday September 30: GA United Strike Authorization Vote
Wednesday October 5, 5pm: Informational Meeting for Students About Striking

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