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!