Friday, March 27, 2009

Board of Trustees Update for March 2009 Meeting

A few items of interest from the March 24-25, 2009 CSU Board of Trustees meeting:

Initial Bargaining Proposals

The Board approved initial bargaining proposals for:

  • California State University Employees' Union (CSUEU) – Units 2, 5, 7 And 9
  • International Union of Operating Engineers at The California Maritime Academy – Unit 10
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) at The San Francisco State University (Headstart employees) – Unit 12

Unit 13 Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charge

CSUEU v. Trustees
In an unfair labor practice charge before the Public Employees Relations Board, CSULA Extended Education English language instructors (who have formed Unit 13, a new bargaining unit) claimed that they were academic employees as that term is used in SB 1212, and therefore entitled to the same elaborate grievance procedures available to faculty members. PERB dismissed this charge, ruling that these CSULA English instructors are not academic employees for purposes of the SB 1212 grievance procedures since they did not have this access in the past and are presently negotiating their own unit-specific grievance procedures.


There are several items of interest from the Litigation Report (Committee of the Whole, beginning page 4 of the PDF). Items in the Ligigation Report are selected from 82 currently active litigation files as being (1) with the potential for a systemwide impact on the CSU; (2) that raises significant public policy issues; (3) brought by or against another public agency; or (4) which, for other reasons, has a high profile or is likely to generate widespread publicity.

See the agenda for the Committee of the Whole for the complete report. A few highlights:

Former Labor Relations Managers Suing CSU

For background, see the Unit 9 News article CSU Fired High-Level Whistleblowers Block and Verellen. The CSU spent millions on the no-bid contracts with an outside labor relations firm mentioned in the complaints.

Block v. CSU, et al.
Los Angeles County Superior Court
Joel Block, a systemwide HR manager in the Chancellor's Office, was nonretained in January 2008 for performance reasons. He alleges that a pattern of adverse treatment, including a demotion, salary freeze and suspension, culminating in his non-retention, constituted discrimination and retaliation based upon his age, disability, efforts to redress grievances, and protests over the award of a no-bid contract to consultants. The case is in the pleading stage.

Verellen v. CSU, et al.
Los Angeles County Superior Court
Paul Verellen, a systemwide HR manager in the Chancellor's Office, was nonretained in March 2008 for performance reasons. In September 2007, immediately after learning informally of his supervisor's dissatisfaction with his performance, Verellen filed a whistleblower complaint that a labor relations consultant was improperly retained by the CSU. After he was formally advised a few days later that he would not receive a merit salary increase because of his performance problems, he filed a whistleblower retaliation complaint and a complaint of age discrimination. He filed a second retaliation complaint after he was nonretained. His retaliation and age discrimination complaints were investigated and rejected. Verellen then filed a petition for writ of mandate claiming the retaliation investigative outcomes are wrong and requesting reinstatement. Simultaneously, Verellen filed a complaint for damages for whistleblower retaliation and age discrimination. He is 58 years old. CSU filed a motion to stay the damage claim until the writ is resolved. That motion was granted.

Discrimination and Whistleblower Retaliation

There are a number of other cases alleging discrimination, often from Athletics departments, and reliation for whistleblowing.

Ballot Measures and Legislation

The Board voted to support May 2009 Ballot Measures 1-A, 1-B, 1-C, 1-D, and 1-E.

Two bills before the Legislature seek to reign in extravagent executive compensation:

AB 53 (Portantino) State Employment: Salary Freeze: This measure would prohibit any state employee, including employees of the CSU, who earns more than $150,000 to receive a salary increase, overtime pay, or a bonus until January 1, 2012. The measure excludes Constitutional officers, employees covered by a memorandum of understanding (unions), employees under the oversight of a federal receiver (corrections), and any person who has been exempted by a Governor’s executive order.

Status: This measure has been referred to the Assembly’s Public Employees Retirement and Social Security Committee. No hearing date has been set.

SB 217 (Yee) Public Postsecondary Education: Executive Officer Compensation: This measure forbids an executive officer of the system from receiving any salary increase in a year when the CSU has raised its mandatory student fees.

Status: This measure may be acted upon on or after March 26.

Yee has published an editorial on his bill in the California Progress Report.

Master Plans, Budgets, and Additional Expenditures

The Board also:

  • Approved Master Plan Revisions for California State University, Channel Islands and California State University, Stanislaus (See the Committee on Campus Planning, Buildings and Grounds agenda [PDF] for details)
  • Heard a presenation of the current budget situation, describing the current reductions as being "bridged" through a variety of short-term and expedient steps throughout the system, none of which are sustainable on a long-run basis. The Compact with Higher Education is not being funded for the 2009-10 budget year. The net effect of the budget package means the CSU faces an operating shortfall of $70.4 million for the 2009-10 fiscal year on top of the $217.3 million Compact shortfall.
    The written overview begins on page 10 of the PDF of the Committee on Finance agenda.
  • Authorized bonds not to exceed $33,070,000.
  • Authorized these non-state funded project expenditures:
    • $4,565,000for a Hydrogen Fueling Station project at CSULA
    • $90,553,000 for a Student Union Expansion and Renovation project at SJSU
    • $33,354,000 for a Student Health and Counseling Facility project at SJSU
    • $4,478,000 for a University Union Plaza Renovation at Cal Poly SLO.


Resolutions often amount to a variation of The Board adopted report X from Committee Y, so check the Committee agendas for more complete information. Minutes from previous meetings are included in the agendas, and often include information on the course the discussion took.

GAO: Labor Department Bungles, Ignores Complaints

An Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation found the federal Labor Department regularly bungles its handling of complaints from workers who say their bosses are cheating them on overtime pay or committing other labor violations:

The probe by the Government Accountability Office says agency officials often took too long to respond to complaints, failed to record them and, in one instance, lied about investigative work that was never performed.

Undercover investigators tested the intake process and found the Labor Department mishandled nine out of 10 of the fake complaints.

Some complaints, including one of children operating heavy equipment and another of an employee never receiving a paycheck, were never even entered into the department's database, as required. Complaints which were entered into the database were sometimes falsely marked as resolved.

Overall, the GAO reported lapses including slow response times, failure to record complaints in a database, failure to use all available enforcement tools because of a lack of resources and failure to follow up with employers.

On the plus side, the investigation found that once complaints were recorded in the agency's database and assigned to a case investigator were dealt with appropriately.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

SETC Lawsuit, CFA Impasse

A couple of recent CSU labor items:


The State Employees Trade Council-United, which represents Bargaining Unit 6 in the CSU, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the CSU violated the state education code by not paying its members at the generally prevailing rate as required by law.


CFA At Impasse, Urging Arbitration

The California Faculty Association (CFA) reopened negotiations with the CSU after the CSU declared it didn't have the money for raises already negotiated for the current fiscal year. The CSU has not moved from its initial proposal of 0% GSI, 0% SSI, and 0% equity pay increases.

The CSU has been vague about where the money's going. From the CFA bargaining report:

The real circumstances are made even murkier by the fact that, despite the budget difficulties in the CSU, the Chancellor's bargaining team has not argued that the CSU lacks the money to pay the raises. Rather, they have argued there are competing demands that come before the negotiated raises in the faculty's contract.

The Chancellor's Office has not specified these "competing demands." With the layoffs of Lecturers and student services staff, the elimination of course sections, the refusal to pay raises, the cramming of more students into classes, and all the other cuts to instruction, it appears that the students and the classrooms are not among the competing demands.

CFA does examine MPP (management personnel) salaries each October, and clearly MPP salaries have increased during the past 18 months, so that's one possible priority.


From the "Could Be Worse" Department

While it's probably fair to say unions bargaining with the CSU are frustrated and disappointed with the lack of progress, at least CSU negotiations never go as badly as this:

French Workers Hold Boss Hostage: Hostage-Taking a Part of Extreme Labor Negotiations in France (ABC News)

Local 1000 Ratifies Contract

Local 1000 members voted to ratify the contract recently negotiated with the state. The contract reduces the furloughs from 2 days per month to 1 day per month, and trades 2 paid holidays for 2 paid personal days off.

Local 1000, a CSEA affiliate like CSUEU, represents state civil service workers in 9 bargaining units.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Other States Using Stimulus Funding For Higher Ed

From this week's issue of CFA Headlines, published by the California Faculty Association (CFA):

Other States Using Stimulus Funding To Increase Higher Ed Spending

While California's lawmakers are using federal stimulus money as an excuse to make budget cuts to our four-year universities and other critical services, lawmakers in other states are using the money for its intended purpose: rebuilding infrastructure and reinvesting in critical programs like education, health services and higher education.

Minnesota's Republican Governor – and one-time possible vice president pick – Tim Pawlenty announced last week that he will use stimulus funds granted to his state to increase higher education funding by $304 million and will cap student fees for at least two years.

In Massachusetts, Governor Duval Patrick has announced that he may use the federal stimulus money to invest as much as $651 million in higher education over the next 27 months.

Meantime, even Iceland, despite a near-total collapse of its economy, is still putting money into public higher education. The U. of Iceland, a public school, increased enrollment by 10 percent and attendance is nearly free—about $400 a year. An advisor in the education ministry says, We expect education to play a big role in responding to the crisis.


Alliance Action Alert: Contact Federal Representatives

Here's yesterday's Action Alert from the Alliance for the CSU:


Tell them you oppose another $50 million cut to the CSU

A delegation of CFA leaders and students are in Washington, DC this week trying to stop another $50 million cut to the CSU budget because of the federal stimulus "trigger" adopted by the California State Legislature.

Your help is needed to support the trip with phone calls to your congressional representative.


Tell Congress it is wrong to use federal recovery money as an excuse to make more budget cuts to our four-year universities.

To find the district office of your congressional representative, go to:

Please call them today and tell them:

  • California's governor and legislature are ignoring the goals Congress and the President set forth in providing federal stimulus money to the state.
  • Using the federal money as an excuse to make more budget cuts will hurt public higher education as well in-home and other health care services - this will harm many of the very constituents that the federal money was meant to help.
  • They must call their counterparts in state government, and the Governor, to tell them to stop using the so-called trigger cuts to undermine state services and access to public university education.


In the state budget deal cut on February 19, the state legislature adopted ABX3 16 - the so-called trigger.

This trigger would cut the CSU's state funding yet again if State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and California Department of Finance Director Mike Genest determine that California will not receive at least $10 billion in federal money by June 2010 to offset general fund cuts.

If this new cut is made, the CSU will lose $50 million. That is equal to the cost of about 10,000 classes in the CSU - lost. Students already can't get the classes they need to graduate on many CSU campuses.

Rather than wait to see exactly what federal money California actually will receive, the legislature and governor are requiring Lockyer and Genest to make this determination by April 1 - NEXT WEEK!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Diehr to Chair CalPERS Investment Committee

George Diehr has been elected Chair of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Investment Committee. From the CalPERS press release:

Diehr was elected to the Board in 2003 by State employees, including employees of the California State University system. He is a professor of management science in the College of Business Administration at California State University, San Marcos.

Diehr has also been named Vice Chair of the Health Benefits Committee, and a member of the Performance and Compensation Committee and the Benefits and Program Administration (BPAC) Committee.

Diehr was elected Vice President of the full CalPERS Board in February.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Benefit Question from a Member: CSUEU v. CSEA

A CSUEU member asks:
As a CSUEU member, am I also considered a CSEA [California State Employees Association] member? I’m a little confused about the association. I’m looking at [a purchase] that offers a discount to CSEA members. I’m not sure if there’s a CSUEU discount. Can you explain the association? Thanks.

Yes, you are a CSEA member.

CSUEU is part of CSEA, as an affiliate. All CSUEU members are CSEA members. Since CSUEU is SEIU Local 2579, CSUEU members are also SEIU members.

CSEA is the umbrella organization and consists of Local 1000 (civil service employees), Retirees, ACSS (State Supervisors) and CSUEU.

You can reach CSEA Member Benefits at (916) 326-4283 or toll free at (800) 952-5283. Unit 9 Chair Rich McGee serves on the CSEA Member Benefits Committee.

CSUEU membership is not automatic for CSU employees; you must fill out a membership form to join. Fee payers (nonmembers) are not eligible for CSEA member benefits.

One thing to watch for:
In our context, CSEA is the California State Employees Association. Other groups have the same abbreviation. Outside our organization, isn't always obvious which CSEA is meant.

If you aren't using a CSEA Member Benefits form or web site, it's probably simplest to look for SEIU in the list of organizations whose members are eligible for the discount, and identify yourself as an SEIU member. If it lists CSEA without the full name of the organization, that may refer to a completely different CSEA, such as the California School Employees Association, the California Society of Enrolled Agents, or New York's Civil Service Employees Association. You don't want to run into trouble over whether you're a member of the right CSEA just because someone was unclear about which organization(s) they offer discounts to.


Monday, March 16, 2009

CSEA Foundation Scholarship Announcement Premature

Recent announcements of the CSEA Foundation scholarship, with an application deadline of March 31, were premature, according to the CSEA Communications department.

Look for a new and improved announcement within a few weeks, with the deadline pushed back appropriately.

Alliance Action Alert: Email State Treasurer

Friday afternoon, the Alliance for the CSU sent out this action alert:

To: Supporters of the California State University

March 13, 2009



Dear CSU supporters,

The California State University is on the verge of being slashed a third time this school year alone - this time by $50 million more dollars.

State funding for the CSU was already reduced by $634 million this year.

Right now, thousands of new students are being turned away, teachers are being laid off, class sections are being eliminated, and students are giving up on their college education because they can't get the classes and advising they need to graduate.

Yet, the governor's budget now in place says that if the federal government does not send at least $10 billion dollars for the state's "general fund," the CSU will lose another $50 million.

Speak out! Send email to State Treasurer Bill Lockyer telling him, "Not another cut!"

To send a message, go to:

The legislature has ordered Treasurer Lockyer and Dept of Finance Director Mike Genest to decide by April 1 whether California is getting enough money from the federal government in recovery stimulus (American Recovery Act, ARRA) funding to stop the new cuts.

Next Tuesday, March 17, they will hold a public hearing to "help them make the trigger determination," according to Lockyer's web site. At stake is $50 million for the California State University and more than $900 million in other cuts to essential social services as well as to the UC.

Send your own message to Treasurer Lockyer about budget cuts to your CSU campus.

To send a message, go to:

Please send your message in time for the public hearing, next Tuesday, March 17.

Updated to add: CSUEU Headquarters advises that this campaign is also on the CSEA Capwiz page.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

BUC 9 Report for March 14, 2009 Meeting

Bargaining Unit Council 9 (BUC 9) met last night, March 14, 2009. Here's the Chair's report:

Term of Office

BUC members' term of office runs to the next state-wide officer elections, to be held in four months. There will be one more BUC meeting for the current BUC, and elections for the next two-year cycle will be held the next day.

BUC 9 Resignation

Félix Cortez-Littlefield has officially resigned from the Unit 9 Council, and we want to thank him for the great work he has done for Unit 9, and wish him the best of luck in his career with the CSU.


The CSU's initial bargaining proposal (a.k.a. the sunshine proposal) contains significant changes, including higher parking fees and reduced limits on contracting out and outsourcing. The CSU and CSUEU proposals will be available on the CSUEU web site on Monday morning. Teven Laxer, Senior Labor Relations Representative assigned to Unit 9, reports that CSUEU will soon generate a comparison of the two proposals. He reports 5 other unions are bargaining contracts with the CSU; most of these are at impasse.

LA to LSS Conversion

We are still bargaining the Library Services Specialist (LSS) conversion. The two teams have been meeting for more than a year now, but the actual process started almost 17 years ago, with informal discussions between the Library Assistants (LA's) and the CSU. The CSU is refusing to provide any additional compensation to the LA's as their jobs shifted from clerical functions to technical positions. There are more than 500 LA's working within Unit 7, and 20 still working within Unit 4 (Lead Library Assistants). We bargain again next Thursday at the Chancellor's Office. The CSUEU LSS bargaining team met for several hours Friday to discuss several possible bargaining strategies.


Teven Laxer reports the accounting techs will be the next classification examined as the CSU works to refine the Classification and Qualification Standards (CQS). When it is time for this, a mixed bargaining group of both Unit 7 and Unit 9 employees will be created to discuss these positions with the CSU.

The CSU has proposed revisions to virtually all Unit 9 classifications. Unit 9 has reviewed the proposed CQS, and delivered a report to the Classification Committee. Most of the proposed changes are minor, but there are some substantive changes such as modified duties and qualifications. Some positions, such as livestock technician, are listed as reporting to faculty.


8 campuses have still not fully reported the results of their In-Range Progression (IRP) campaign from last year. $1.3 million was spent on the IRP's funded from the 0.25% compensation pool CSUEU agreed to use to fund employee initiated IRP's, and $100,000 of this amount remains unspent. Campuses, statewide, used $3.5 million to fund the remaining IRP's. Chapter presidents have the exact IRP numbers in their binders.

Contracting Out

Teven was notified late last year that the CSU had issued outsourcing contracts for statewide IT work. This would have been our work, including e-mail support, server management, Blackboard, Active Directory, etc. This contract was for more than $15 million dollars, and would have been used at all campuses except for Humboldt and Chico, which were described by the CSU as being too far away. When challenged, the CSU agreed to cancel these contracts.

Google Mail Outsourcing

Several campuses have either already outsourced student email to Google's Gmail, or were planning to do so in the immediate future.

Teven has sent an information request to Sharyn at the Chancellor's Office and is waiting a response. Several campuses evaluated Gmail, but found it unsuitable due to accessibility problems. Several campuses (Humboldt, Cal Poly SLO) switched to Zimbra, a free open-source package, administered by the campus.

Position Postings

Please review all posted campus positions within BU 9. Campuses are attempting to save money by low-balling IT positions and posting them at the Foundation level. Remember that a Foundation position is a bridge to the workplace, and the duties and responsibilities for these positions are clearly defined within the CQS.

Operational Need

If employees are denied the opportunity to attend a class due to operational needs, please schedule an informal with the MPP to discuss what those exact operational needs may be. Having a department be too short staffed or too busy to release an employee is not a reason to deny their application for fee waiver, or to take a class during working hours. Ask the MPP if they approved vacation for the employee last year. If they can approve two weeks leave during the year, why is two weeks of class time any different? Our contract allows for fee-waiver, we worked hard to get it, and it is an employee right.

CSUEU Web Site

I have been advised by several CSUEU/CSEA managers and staff that CSUEU's legal advisors have said they do not believe that the federal ADA requirements apply to the CSUEU web site. We disagree – labor organizations are specifically mentioned – but in any case it's not clear why this would be taken as justification for deliberately discriminating against disabled employees we represent, or making the web site unnecessarily difficult for all to use. A competently-designed web site is accessible out of the box, and is no more work to create than an inaccessible web site. Accessible sites are easier for all visitors to use, and this issue affects more than the disabled.

The CSEA webmaster stated Saturday that the cost of converting the website to ensure ADA compliance would be huge, massive, since he would have to re-bill CSUEU for all the time, possibly 180 hours, or more, that he has spent creating the current website. The content management system we currently use is not ADA-compliant and would have to be replaced.

I will be requesting a meeting with the Communications Committee, as well as Pat and Phillip, to further discuss this issue.

Updated March 23, 2009 to clarify the LSS and LA abbreviations.


Friday, March 13, 2009

CFA: Email Now to Prevent $50 Million Cut to CSU

The California Faculty Association (CFA), which represents CSU faculty, sent out a special CFA Headlines yesterday evening urging emails to State Treasurer Bill Lockyer to prevent even deeper cuts to the CSU.

From CFA Headlines:

The California State University is on the verge of being slashed a third time this school year alone – this time by $50 million more dollars.

State funding for the CSU was already reduced by $607 million this year.

Right now, thousands of new students are being turned away, teachers are being laid off, class sections are being eliminated, and students are giving up on their college education because they can't get the classes and advising they need to graduate.

Yet, the governor's budget now in place says that if the federal government does not send at least $10 billion dollars for the state's general fund, the CSU will lose another $50 million.

Speak out! Send email to State Treasurer Bill Lockyer telling him, Not another cut!

Send your message to and

The legislature has ordered Treasurer Lockyer and Dept of Finance Director Mike Genest to decide by April 1 whether California is getting enough money from the federal government in recovery stimulus (American Recovery Act, ARRA) funding to stop the new cuts.

Next Tuesday, March 17, they will hold a public hearing to help them make the trigger determination, according to Lockyer's web site. At stake is $50 million for the California State University and more than $900 million in other cuts to essential social services as well as to the UC.

In her own letter to State Treasurer Lockyer, CFA President Lillian Taiz states the legislation passed allows all federally approved California funding to be used to offset the $10 billion trigger. She goes on to state:

The CSU cannot sustain additional budget reductions. Because of budget cuts approaching $800 million since 2002 the CSU – for the first time in its history – will formally deny access to at least 10,000 students who would otherwise be eligible to attend a CSU campus. Furthermore, these budget cuts have forced the elimination of hundreds of class sections as well as reduced access to campus libraries and vital student services.

She urges the Treasurer to interpret ABX3 16 in an accurate and comprehensive fashion that allows our state's public universities and essential social programs to retain their 2009/10 funding, while ensuring new federal dollars are expended in a responsible and appropriate manner.

CFA recommends sending your message before the public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 17.


Inside CSUEU Twitter Feed

Ronnie Grant, CSUEU Vice President for Organizing, will be posting updates from this weekend's CSUEU Board of Directors meeting on Twitter:

You can check the web page above, use the RSS feed, or sign up with Twitter to receive updates on your cell phone or email. Check your cell phone plan for charges to receive text messages.

Here are the subscription instructions from Ronnie's Inside CSUEU post:

How to subscribe to Inside CSUEU on Twitter:

  1. From your phone, send a text message to 40404 with the text: follow insidecsueu
  2. You'll get a [response] requesting to confirm your subscript[ion] by replying with a name. Reply with a name.
  3. If all you [want] is a subscription to Inside CSUEU, you're done. No further action needed.

To subsubscribe send stop to 40404.

You can also subscribe on the Twitter website.


BUC 9 Agenda for March 14 Meeting

Here's the agenda for tomorrow's Bargaining Unit Council 9 (BUC 9) meeting:

Bargaining Unit Council 9 Meeting

March 14, 2009    5:15 – 7:15 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Redondo Beach


  1. Roll call (BUC members)
  2. Chair Report
  3. Library Services Specialist (LSS) series update
  4. In-Range Progressions (IRP) update
  5. Exempt, workload, and on-call issues
  6. Outsourcing
  7. Staff Report
  8. Additional items as requested and as time permits

At this writing, the meeting is scheduled to be held in Redondo 2 & 3. Check the meeting room information posted at the hotel for updates.