Some SJSU faculty have expressed disagreement with the California State University and our California State University Employee Union’s (CSUEU) seniority based layoff process for staff university employees. Some folks in the campus community have said bad things about our staff employee’s union regarding it.
Remember, this was a process negotiated over many rounds of contract negotiations, over many contract terms, by staff union and CSU management representatives. This agreement was ratified by the staff members themselves; as well as by the CSU trustees. This is not just the union’s process; it is CSU and the union’s process. This is what BOTH labor and management agreed to and this is what the employees ratified!
The staff union has a legal obligation, called a duty of fair representation, to enforce the current collective bargaining agreement (contract) that exists between CSU and the California State Employees Union (CSUEU). Here are the terms of that agreement as it applies to staff layoffs:
Article 24.5 of that agreement says, “The President shall establish the order of layoff for permanent employees in a classification in reverse order of seniority. For employees in classifications with skill levels, the President shall establish the order of layoff for permanent employees in a skill level in reverse order of seniority.”
Article 24.6 of that agreement says, “An employee who possesses documentable specialized skills that are needed for the program, not possessed by other employees in classification(s), or skill levels within classifications, undergoing layoff, may be excluded by the President from the layoff list.” (I have been told there is a strict definition of this, but I am not personally aware of what that definition is.)
If a change of that agreement were to be proposed; it would need to be proposed by the union or management, it would require a meet and confer between the chancellor’s office and union representatives, the drafting of a side letter, then a ratification vote on the part of all represented employees at all the CSU campuses in the sate of California. This is what happened when the furlough agreement was approved last year.
You might want to look at article 24 so you know the constraints that both the union and the university are working under. If the union were to violate the agreement the union could be sued. One more thing, this is a contract between CSU and the union. No other party is a party to the contract agreement. Faculty have as much right to get involved with this process as staff have to get involved with the faculty’s retention, tenure and promotion procedure.
Of course we want to save as many jobs as possible. We want to stop layoffs!
But, if there is to be a layoff, then we (the union and CSU) need to follow the procedure we agreed to. It is our process!
NOTE –> These are my own personal opinions, views, information and perspectives regarding the labor movement in general and our local union, Chapter 307 of CSUEU, the California State University Employees Union at SJSU, San Jose State University, San Jose, California. This in NOT meant to represent the official union position on this matter.