Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Misconceptions About Furlough Agreement and Our Options

Several misconceptions about furloughs, layoffs, and how bargaining works have turned up repeatedly this week:

If this TA is voted down, can't we just negotiate a better one?
No. First, this is a good agreement, with the protections we sought. Second, there's no time to negotiate a new agreement on something members have already voted against. If this TA isn't ratified, the CSU will begin layoffs.
Once the CSU starts layoffs, we can bargain furloughs then, right?
No. The only bargaining we'd be doing over layoffs is on the impact of the layoffs on employees, not the number of layoffs. That will not prevent or delay layoffs.
We don't really have to decide so fast, do we?
Yes, we do. The CSU has given all the unions until July 20 to answer about furloughs – the day before the July 21 Board of Trustees meeting. The fiscal year has already started, and the longer CSU waits, the deeper the cuts will have to be. With or without a furlough plan, campus presidents will be directed to start making the necessary cuts on their campuses. Furloughs will drastically reduce the number of layoffs campuses will make.
My chapter voted in favor of the furlough agreement. Even if other campuses vote no, employees at my campus are safe, right?
No. Ratification votes are by statewide bargaining unit, not chapter. For example, if members in Unit 5 vote yes on the furlough agreement and members in Unit 9 vote against it, Unit 5 employees would be furloughed, and have jobs. Unit 9 would go into layoffs, and many Unit 9 employees would lose their jobs.
But you would bargain over layoffs, right? Couldn't you fix it then?
No. Bargaining over layoffs is simply bargaining over the impact, not whether there are layoffs or how many there are. Bargaining over the impact of layoffs would not prevent layoffs.
I'm worried about my workload under furloughs.
Workload issues are addressed in this agreement. Also: If you're concerned about your workload under temporary furloughs, aren't you a lot more concerned about your workload if roughly 1/3 of the employees in our bargaining units lose their jobs? That's what we're facing under layoffs.
I heard furloughs would be permanent, and get added to the contract.
No. This is a temporary agreement for one year, expiring June 30, 2010. It does not become part of the contract.
I heard the CSU can just impose furloughs anyway.
No, they can't. There is no provision for furloughs in our contract. Without this furlough agreement, the CSU would be left with using the option already in our contract: Layoffs.
If the CSU is really going to furlough MPPs, and furlough or lay off other bargaining units like faculty, why doesn't it say so in our furlough agreement?
Because the union is the exclusive representative of our own bargaining units, not faculty or MPPs. We do not have the legal authority to bargain their pay or working conditions, any more than CFA could bargain ours.
The CSU has been adamant that each union faces either furloughs or layoffs, and that there is a July 20 deadline for deciding. Any union which does not agree to furloughs will face layoffs. MPPs are facing furloughs; they don't get a vote.
Why doesn't the TA say no raises for other groups?
Because we can't legally bargain for other groups. Just as CFA or APC cannot bargain for us, we cannot bargain for them. Remember too that our own contract still provides for In-Range Progression (IRPs), stipends, bonuses, etc.
Does this agreement give away our holidays by turning them into furlough days?
No. You still get all your holidays as provided by the contract. The furlough agreement allows the campus president to continue his/her practice of moving those holidays (to the week between Christmas and New Year's, for example), and also designate the actual holidays as campus-wide furlough days.
You'd get your holiday leave as usual between Christmas and New Year's, plus a designated furlough day on the actual holiday (Washington's birthday, for example). This would be especially helpful for employees with children in school, since schools often close on holidays the CSU has moved.
I don't want either furloughs or layoffs.
No one does. We still have to choose. Not liking the situation doesn't change it.
If you want to save jobs, vote yes to ratify the one-year furlough agreement.
If you want thousands of layoffs which could have been prevented by furloughs – and which may include you even if you think you're safe – then vote in favor of layoffs.

Please read at least the tentative agreement itself, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), and the statement from your elected bargaining team. It's important that you base your vote on facts, not rumors or mistaken assertions from people who haven't done their homework.


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