Monday, October 31, 2005

Statewide CSUEU contacts

Sometimes CSUEU represented employees want to know who their statewide reps are and how they can be contacted. The answer to that is right on the cover of the University Employee, the publication for university employees represented by CSUEU, SEIU Local 2579:
Board Officers
Pat Gantt .....................530/570-5803
Administrator (staff)
Virginia Watts .............916/319-4800
Vice President for Organizing
Hylah Jacques ............805/756-2706
Vice President for Representation
Dennis Dillon ..............818/677-2662
Vice President for Finance
Lori Williams ..............805/756-5267
Bargaining Unit Chairs
Unit 2—Health Care
Pam Robertson ...........916/278-6037
Unit 5—Operations
Sharon Cunningham ...619/594-5799
Unit 7—Administrative/Clerical
Annel Martin ..............909/880-5241
Unit 9—Technical Support
Rocky Waters ............. 707/826-4208
Committee Chairs
Lynn Barba .................714/278-2069
Catastrophic Dues
Richard Perry .............916/454-9330
Lori Williams ..............805/756-5267
Vicky McLeod ..............909/869-2340
Hylah Jacques ............805/756-2706
Policy File
Jay (J.W.) Jimenez II ....714/278-7386
Dennis Dillon .............818/677-2662
Communications (UE editor)
Russell Kilday-Hicks ......415/338-3008

Friday, October 28, 2005

Shameful: Trustees raise own salaries by almost 50%

CSU Employees Union Pat Gantt asked that we forward his message to as many employees as possible.

Just when we thought relations with the CSU Chancellor's Office and the Board of Trustees were improving, the Board of Trustees unanimously took the second most shameful action they have ever taken - increasing executive compensation by a staggering 49.5% over the next 5 years.  Many of you will recall the most shameful action ever taken by the Board of Trustees: On March 19, 1996, they unilaterally took away annual merit salary adjustments (known as "steps") from employees represented by the CSU Employees Union and imposed discretionary performance pay.

The CSU Employees Union was looking forward to the October 27, 2005, Board of Trustees meeting, where plans would be announced for trying to close the faculty and staff salary gap.  At the September 2005 Board meeting, Finance Committee Chair Bill Hauck announced the creation of a subcommittee which would look at the lag between faculty and staff salaries at the CSU and comparable institutions of higher education. Over the past few years, members have made it clear that our wages have not kept pace with inflation, that they cannot move through the open salary ranges, and that many salaries lag those paid similar job classifications in comparable agencies.  Vice Chancellor Jackie McClain reported to us that "our members made a strong case at the Board meeting for some classes being significantly below market" and as a result of the union's actions, the Board of Trustees "added the equivalent of one-half percent to the 2005/06 compensation pool to address such issues."

So, CSUEU was pleased when the Board of Trustees distributed the outline of a 5-year plan to close the faculty and staff salary gap.  The CSU plan for FY 2006/2007 included funding for an additional $16.6 million for the first year of their five year period.  The CSU explained that the so-called "compact" between the Chancellor and the Governor assumes a 3% base compensation increase each year from 2006/07 through 2010/11.  Their summary document stated that another $300 million was needed to reduce the salary gap to zero.  While we might argue that this is not enough to reduce the salary gap for faculty and staff to zero, at least it was a start and we were prepared to praise the CSU's initial efforts.  Until

Until the matter of executive compensation came up.

The CSU contends that the pay of presidents and senior staff at the Chancellor's Office lag the market by a staggering 49.5%.  They said that this 49.5% gap is proportional to the faculty salary lag of 13.1%.  And, they proposed a five-year plan to increase executive pay by ten percent each year!  On top of that, presidents will receive substantial increases in their housing and auto allowances.  After hardly any debate, the board unanimously approved this plan.  Also, keep in mind that the Trustees had just voted to increase student fees by another 8% next year - the fifth year in a row of hikes in student fee increases.

The only word that comes to mind in shameful. The timing and the amount of the raise makes me think that the CSU Trustees are totally out of touch with the employees or students.  Could it be they really don't even care?  The fact that they took this brazen step in the same meeting where they raised student fees shows that the CSU system is really becoming a corporate model where only the executives benefit and the employees and customers (students) are exploited.

The CSU Employees Union is in the process of developing bargaining proposals for next year's full contract bargaining.  You can be sure that closing the staff salary gap will be seriously considered.

A complete review of the trustees action are in the following article:

[Link to story on SF Gate]

If this link doesn't work, go to SF Gateand search [Link] for October 28, 2005.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Remembering Rosa Parks

Fifty years ago, on September 15, 1955 I was born. Less than three months later Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on a bus to a white man. It is amazing to me to think that in just my life time's worth of time it was expected that she would. When asked to move to let a white bus rider be seated Parks refused. She did not argue and she did not move. The police were called and Parks was arrested.

To me, in the here and now, the idea that a person could be arrested for this and that it could be considered a crime seems absurd. Yes, we have a long way to go. Also, we have come a long way thanks to Rosa Parks and many who shared her courage. The day she died recently, a short time after my 50th birthday, is a sad day. We lost a genuine American hero.

SJSU statue

The statue of Smith and Carlos at SJSU is an important statue. It is a symbol of activism, but it is also a symbol of the struggle of black people in our society to be free and to break the chains of oppression that still bind them. This is an important icon for us all to see and remember. It was not that long ago that people had to give up seats on a bus, just because they were black. Thank you Parks and Smith and Carlos and so many more...

Monday, October 24, 2005

From Wendy Seltzer

Good Night and Good Luck: See It Now:

If you care about politics or media, you owe yourself a viewing of Good Night, And Good Luck, the new film on Edward R. Murrow and his fight to expose Joseph McCarthy. The film, shot in black and white with McCarthy playing himself via old news footage, powerfully captures the horror of McCarthy's witch hunt. Equally important, it reminds us of journalism's power -- and its obligation -- to educate and lead.

Unfortunately, that is a reminder we urgently need. The closing speech of Murrow's McCarthy broadcast, quoted verbatim in the film, is timeless:

[T]he line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it -- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.'

Good night, and good luck.

Participate's 'Report It Now' works to translate those ideals into action by modern citizen journalists. Xeni Jardin collects more good resources at BoingBoing, including the entire Murrow address that bookends the film.


(Via Wendy's Blog: Legal Tags.)

Staff employees have a voice

Smith and Carlos Statue

With the emergence of enabling technologies, like blogging and podcasting. Everybody, including all university faculty, students and staff have access to powerful global communications tools to post ideas to the Internet. This seed change has marked the end of business as usual. Using search engines like Google and even more, Technorati these Internet posts can be found, linked to and remixed in ways unimaginable just a short time ago. It does not require the blessing of the institution to make these posts accessible.

The result is a good thing. This is a conversation where ideas are free and easy to give, get and rehash. Everybody must be able to join the conversation. Historically students and faculty have been parties to the conversation to a greater and lesser extent, depending on the institution and the circumstances. Support staff, the so-called classified employees, have not been invited to the party. The staff in the past has been like the servers at a social event. We pour the punch but we are not allowed to dance.

Those days are over. Staff have important contributions to make to the conversation. We see things other folks don't see. We have ideas that deserve to be heard. We have paid our dues, and at public universities like SJSU we pay our taxes. It is everybody's loss to expect us to check our brains at the campus gate as we walk onto our universities. Not only are we members of the campus community, we are taxpayers and we don't want to see our investments squandered.

Administrators can't stop it, and shouldn't want to. We are here and we are ready to dance! The universities will be better for it.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

SJSU wireless: Late and out of date?

The new campus-wide wireless network being put in for SJSU has already missed two deadlines and is will soon be a full semester behind schedule. It was supposed to be live before the start of the Fall term in August. After that failed, a new date of October 17 was set and missed for startup of the new wireless network. Now they are saying the network will be turned on sometime after school ends in December. Reportedly the issue is lack of stability of the network which is funded primarily by student money, provided by Associated Students. The network is being installed and will be run by Comcast. Comcast is the contractor for this project. It is replacing a reliable, smaller scale project run by SJSU employees.

Even if the new network can be made to work, and roll-out finally does happen sometime around Christmas, the next big question is, will it already be obsolete?

The new network will rely on a somewhat complicated user authentication method. Everybody who goes to use the network will have to have a user log-in. This log-in will be based on a system (never tested on such a scale) called SJSUOne. All users of the new network have to have an SJSUOne account, or be a paid Comcast wireless customer. SJSUOne, in turn, is based on the PeopleSoft HR and Student database.

All users of the new network will need to activate their SJSUOne accounts and then use the password they create to authenticate to the wireless network. This is not an option for people are not either university employees or students. Many folks come to the university, like guest speakers to classes and/or vendors, who are not in the PeopleSoft database but have real business to conduct at SJSU that may need Internet access. It is still not clear how these folks will be accommodated.

SJSUOne itself has had major problems. Useability of the system's account activation interface has been a major fail point with over 50% of the folks who tried to use the current version to activate their SJSUOne accounts not being able to work through the interface (based on testing.) There is a new interface being planned for SJSUOne account activation, but the folks slated to test its useability have not yet been able to. Even when they do, they are not usability experts. Usability is a science not best left to amateurs.

A huge amount of money is being spent supporting and designing this user authentication method. But, is it even necessary?

In metropolitan areas, like San Francisco, companies are falling all over themselves to provide free and open wireless access. Companies like our very own local company Google, who make their living off people having as easy access as possible to the Internet, are installing wireless networks that are free and open to any user who wants to use them.

Couldn't all the money we are spending keeping folks from using our network be better spent improving it? You can't say we need to have user authentication for the sake of university security. All users of the wireless network are going to be treated as outside users anyway and will have an additional layer of security to go through to reach university network resources. They will already be outside the university firewall, like all other Internet users from off campus.

I do not understand why we don't just make the new wireless network free and open to the public. In my opinion the SJSUOne authentication method will complicate and hinder easy use of the wireless network. Other new wireless networks are open, why not ours? Free open and accessible networks encourage collaboration and are the current state of the art. Our new network, in my opinion, will not be. So in my opinion is it not only late, it is out of date!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A train photo of mine ran on Altamont Press

BNSF Train in Mojave

A train photo of mine, that is much better than the one shown here, ran in today's version of the on-line daily train E-newsletter Altamont Press [Link]. It was cool seeing it be used there. I think Altamont Press is a neat web publication and a real example of the enabling ability of on-line delivery for niche news markets (like union publications.) While Altamont Press is not technically a weblog, I think a similar experience could be provided a consumer of news, as this publication provides train buffs, using a weblog.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The University Employee On-line

The University Employee [Link] is the official publication of the CSUEU. It can be found on-line. It includes union news, stories of interest to state employees and contact information including telephone numbers of CSUEU state-wide officers (transparency is good.) I am proud to be associated with this fine publication!

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Contract ratification meeting at SJSU on 10/18

To all San Jose State University Staff Employees in Bargaining Units 2, 5, 7 & 9

  • CSU Staff Employee Union CSUEU, Chapter 307
  • Contract Ratification Meeting
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2005
  • Noon, Spartan Memorial

The CSU Employees Union, SEIU Local 2579, is pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with the CSU on wages and benefits for fiscal year 2005/06. Funding for the Tentative Agreement (TA) is consistent with the overall compensation package of 3.5% that has been used by the Chancellor’s Office for all of the settlements reached with other unions so far. CSUEU was told that the 3.5% package included 1/2% for market salary adjustments. The TA provides for a general salary increase of 2.075% and a service salary increase of 2%. In addition, market salary adjustments of an additional 1% to 5% will be provided to approximately 3,000 employees in specified classifications. This means that approximately 85% of the employees represented by CSUEU will receive a 4.075% (or greater) adjustment to their base pay during fiscal year 2005/06. Those employees with satisfactory performance who are at or above the Service Salary Maximum will receive a bonus of $400, to be paid within 90 days of ratification.

There will be a contract ratification meeting, to discuss the TA, on Tuesday, October 18th at Noon in the Spartan Memorial (also known as “the chapel.”) The meeting is being held to discuss, and have your questions answered, regarding the tentative agreement. Only members may vote on the tentative agreement, but non-members may join the at the meeting and thus be eligible to vote. Please plan to be there.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Defending the contract

Our local union president recently took a position opposed to a new method one of the departments at our campus was considering imposing to request vacation time. This is an area where our contract has language. An employee questioned our president taking this position. I believe our president was correct in taking this position and I applaud his action. This is my response to the employee:

I am just speaking on my own, but I, (as I mentioned in our conversation) believe that CSUEU Chapter 307 president Jeff Baldwin is appropriately defending the contract. Management has three options when considering a move that is possibly within the scope of the agreement.

  • They can either not implement
  • They can unilaterally implement and, if a grievance is filed, attempt to prove through the grievance process that the contract is not being violated
  • Or, the university can request to meet and confer with the union on the subject.

Speaking on my own I can say that I believe the union has a responsibility to defend the collective bargaining agreement and cannot discriminate on what articles of the collective bargaining agreement to defend even in the event that there is a perception of benefit by some employees. If the university chooses to implement without the union's agreement, if the union feels there is grounds to grieve, the union should. If the university feels this will be in the benefit of all parties then the university should request to meet and confer on this subject before implementation and ask for the union's agreement.

Again, that is my personal opinion and not the unions'.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Great moments at GC

Hylah at the podium
It was a General Council full of great moments. In my opinion the greatest was the election of Hylah Jacques as Executive Vice President of CSEA. In my opinion she is the best of the best. She is among the hardest working, smartest, most honest, fair minded, kind hearted and all-around greatest people I have ever known, ever. Her election is a great victory even for the people who voted against her, because they could not have elected better. She is the best in my book!

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Union business being done

Union business being done today
Today is the day when most of the hard core business is done. Today we pass our budget and deal with changes to our policy and bylaws. Today we shape the future of our union. Then, we go home. It is intense work and a lot of folks are being heard.

Stephen Hughes at mike

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Last GC Day

Happy birthday Steve Jr.
Today my oldest son Steve turned 29. For the first time. Happy birthday son!

The heart of the union
The union is more than meetings, contracts and representation. It is about people! At every GC we celebrate the friendships we have built with each other at a GC dance. It is great fun!

Kathryn at GC

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

The CSUEU delegation

This is our CSUEU delegation to General Council 2005

CSUEU GC Delegation

The University Employee Delegation
These are the folks who are representing university staff employees at this statewide union meeting. They are fine hard working folks who are sincere, who care about the pay, working conditions and the benefits of university employees. I am proud to be associated with them.

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More General Council Podcasts

Here are some recordings of conversations from early Sunday October 9, 2005; the second day of CSEA General Council 63 in Anaheim:

Conversation with myself [mp3 audio file link]
While brewing my morning coffee I ruminate about Andy Sterns talk to the CSU delegation, the events of the previous couple of days, this podcast and how emerging technology can be used in the labor movement.
Conversation with Donna Snodgrass [mp3 audio file link]
A brief conversation with Vice President candidate Donna Snodgrass about running without being on a slate of officers.
Conversation with Jennifer Oneal-Watts [mp3 audio file link]
First time GC delegate Jennifer Oneal-Watts shares her impressions of GC 63. Jennifer Oneal-Watts is from CSU Sacramento and is also that chapter's unit 7 rep and is on the statewide BU 7 committee.
Conversation with Hylah Jacques [mp3 audio file link]
A brief conversation while walking up to the voting room. Hylah is a candidate for Executive Vice President of CSEA.
Conversation with Russell Kilday-Hicks and Joseph Jelincic [mp3 audio file link]
Joseph Jelincic, the son of the CSEA president and Russel speak about this GC, CSEA politics and the elections.
Conversation with Ray Reynolds and Mike Roskey [mp3 audio file link]
Ray Reynolds is from DLC 789 and Mike Roskey is from DLC 767 of SEIU Local 1000. They both also are supporters of the Committee for a Democratic Union. They speak here about General Council and the common ground we all have as state workers.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

General Council Podcasts

Here are two recordings of conversations from Saturday October 8, 2005; the first day of CSEA General Council 63 in Anaheim:

Conversation with Rich McGee [mp3 audio file Link]
McGee is a member of the CSUEU Communications Committee and a chapter officer from CSU San Bernardino. McGee talks about Andy Stern's talk yesterday to members of the California State University staff employees union.
Conversation with Jay Jimenez [mp3 audio file Link]
Jimenez is a former Division Director of the then CSU Division of CSEA. He is the chair of the CSUEU Policy File Committee, serves on the CSEA Bylaws and Policy Committee and is the CSU Fullerton President. Jimenez talks about the CSU role in General Council and how that has changed over the years.

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Andy Stern speaks to university staff employees union

Andy Stern "gets it!"

Andrew Stern at GC 2005

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Andy Stern spoke with university employees Friday evening on the eve of the California State Employees Association's 63rd General Council. Stern gave a rousing come to Jesus speech about the importance of the labor movement. Then he stepped from behind the lectern. Stern listened as well as talked and the result was a very lively conversation. Stern, as head of SEIU, recently led a group of formerly AFL-CIO unions out of the AFL-CIO to form a new organization named Change-to-Win.

In his Friday talk Stern, whose SEIU is growing in union membership, spoke about why it was necessary for SEIU to leave the AFL-CIO. He answered the concerns of folks, like myself, who do not like to see the house of labor divided. He cited declining membership in the labor movement overall and the seeming unwillingness of the AFL-CIO to change its strategy to meet the demands of a changing world.

What really impressed me about Stern is that, he gets it! He referenced Freedman, who's book The World is Flat I am currently reading.  He spoke about globalization and the role of unions in a changing global economy. I was able to ask Stern a couple of questions about globalization and the public perception of the labor movement. Stern answered my questions. He spoke about global organizing to meet global markets, unions embracing emerging technology and how unions need to be reorganized to effectively organize workers globally. In short, I was very impressed!

Fiscal issues in CSEA
The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) is one of four organizations in the California State Employees Association (CSEA). Kathryn Plunkett is on the statewide CSEA fiscal committee. Last night, after Stern left, she spoke to us about the ongoing struggle within the statewide organization over central support issues. Central Support is the CSEA entity that provides support services and coordinates activities involving all the four affiliated CSEA organizations. There is a big conflict within the CSEA affiliates about how strong and well funded Central Support should be. Kathryn is a long time close friend of mine. I spent a lot of time in Friday's fiscal committee meeting. It was a long day for Kathryn and a hard day as she and her allies were almost constantly being out voted on issues that are core for university employees.

Kathryn speaking to university employees

The meeting of university employees Friday night went to about 10pm. After the meeting we went to a hospitality suite where we discussed the day's events until the early morning hours of the next day. I had a great long discussion with CSUEU Chapter 307 president Jeff Baldwin. I like Jeff a lot and really enjoyed our conversation. Today, at 1pm, the 63rd General Council Convenes.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

General Council Going Ons

I am at GC, the big union meeting in Anaheim, and the pre-council committee meetings are happening. I just took this photo of Gus Lease, who is the guy I spoke to in my recent podcast with him [Link]. Gus is a great guy and I admire him very much!

Gus Lease Mug

I also just met Steve Aunan, the webmaster for CSEA. He is a sharp guy, and is a blogger, that is so cool! Here is his CSEA blog [Link]. I have taken this photo and one of Fred Cordova for a daily newsletter we are doing of the convention.

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