Election Day Success For Labor

November 7, 2007

Working Families Celebrate Election Day Success
FROM SOUTHBAY LABOR COUNCIL — Voters throughout the South Bay demonstrated that they share the values of working families as they overwhelmingly supported candidates who had earned the endorsement of the South Bay Labor Council.

Endorsed candidates in Sunnyvale and Gilroy won handily as they advocated for quality jobs and progressive values. Perhaps the biggest successes, however, came in Palo Alto and Cupertino, where Yiawey Yeh, Sid Espinosa and Gilbert Wong all won election to City Councils, thanks in large part to the hard work of volunteers from unions throughout the South Bay who contacted thousands of voters in these communities.

Special thanks are due to the hard work of volunteers from SEIU United Healthcare Workers – West, SEIU Local 521, UFCW Local 5, ATU Local 265 and the Building Trades Council. Stalwarts Fred Hirsch (Plumbers and Fitters 393) and Kevin Connell (ATU 265) were the top volunteers for the campaign cycle. Congratulations are very much due to Labor Council Organizing Director C. J. Wilson who coordinated the campaign, resulting in this enormous success.


Union Recognition and you and me

November 6, 2007

Union Recognition
Representation, in my opinion, is the whole point of having a union. When you have a union the role of a union is to represent employees: establish our rights through collective bargaining, protect our rights in discussions with the employer regarding matters of wages, hours and working conditions, and then (when needed) defend our rights through the grievance process and other legal means. For CSU staff employees represented by CSUEU, recognition of our union’s role is covered in Article 1.1 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (our contract) which says:

The Trustees of The California State University (CSU) recognize the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2579, the Union, as the sole and exclusive bargaining representative for Bargaining Units 2, 5, 7 and 9, which includes the employees in classifications described in Appendix A of this Agreement.

I believe the whole process of bargaining representation gets subverted when an employer starts appointing or electing staff representatives to allegedly represent employees in forums of management’s own making that have to do with wages, hours and working conditions. Unions have democracy. Union representatives answer to the employees. Staff councils, management committees, quality circles or whatever you want to call them do not have real democracy, they answer to the employer. Management appointed, or management elected, so-called representatives do not have a way to enforce and protect worker rights. These so-called representatives serve at the pleasure of the employer. Only our union representatives can defend employee rights through legal means, like filing grievances and/or unfair labor practices.

That is why, in my opinion, unions need to fight it when an employer tries to appoint or elect so-called staff representatives to committees, like Kassing’s traffic and parking committee. It needs to be quite clear, these employer selected representatives are not staff representatives, these are management representatives!

When management creates a process that circumvents the ability of our union to represent each of us, on matters that are in the scope of the unions right of representation (in my opinion this is matters regarding wages, hours and working conditions,) it is not just our union’s rights that have been violated. In my opinion when management does this each and every one of our rights to be represented by our union has been violated. I feel when SJSU President Don Kassing set into motion the process of appointing so-called staff representatives to a committee to discuss parking, a topic covered in Article 21 of our contract, he violated my own rights and the rights of every single one of us union represented staff employees at San Jose State University.

President Kassing, if you want to talk to anybody who represents me about anything having to do with parking, talk to my union rep!

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Kassing’s Halloween ULP?

November 1, 2007

Is this an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP)?
Last night President Kassing’s office released two new presidential directives, an hour before midnight on halloween. One of them was regarding the traffic and parking committee. In this directive Kassing said:

Changes in PD 07-05 include creating a broader based selection process for the appointment of San José State staff employees to the Committee…

It goes on to say who will be representing employees on the committee:

Three (3) staff employees selected by the Human Resources Coordinating Council (HRCC), from a list of nominees and self-nominees from each of the divisions across the University…

Maybe I am wrong, but isn’t parking within the scope of bargaining and the only body allowed to represent employees on such matters their union (as defined by HEERA?) I am not a labor lawyer but, if having a committee like this where “staff” (substitute labor here) is represented is legal at all, shouldn’t these staff/labor reps on this committee be appointed by the union(s) representing the staff? Isn’t the failure to do that a violation of labor law and an unfair labor practice?

The Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HERRA) is the law. HERRA section 3571 says in part:

It shall be unlawful for the higher education employer to do any of the following:
(f) Consult with any academic, professional, or staff advisory group on any matter within the scope of representation for employees who are represented by an exclusive representative… [CLIPPED]

So, is this a ULP? Parking is in the collective bargaining agreement (the term used in CSU for our contract,) thus it is within “scope of representation.” What do you think? Did Kassing break the law? In my opinion the answer is yes. I have asked our staff union to look into this.