Sunday, March 19, 2017

BUC 9 Report for March 2017

Bargaining Unit Council 9 (BUC 9) met Friday, March 17, at the CSUEU Board of Directors meeting in Long Beach. Here is the Chair's report, presented to and passed by the Board today.

Unit 9 BUC Report
March 17th, 2017

Rich McGee, Ricardo Uc, Gus Leonard, Saul Sanchez, Matthew Key, Gloria Allan, Kenny Jones, Joseph Jelincic (Staff Assigned)

Brief Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) Overview

AB-340, the PEPRA bill, was signed into law in 2013. "Classic" employees, those hired prior to 2013, are currently paying 5% towards their retirement costs. Those hired since 2013 are paying 6.75%.

Beginning January 1, 2019, this changes to an 8% maximum cap for all state employees, but the amount we must pay is subject to bargaining.

Duties of Unit 9 Council Members

Ricardo Uc, Unit 9 Vice-Chair, briefed BUC members on the need to be ready to step in for both bargaining and meet & confer sessions should either the chair or vice-chair be unavailable to attend.

Video Surveillance Policy Update

Many campuses have different policies regarding video surveillance, with little to no oversight. The Union is not opposed to the use of security cameras, provided they are used only for security purposes. These cameras should not be used as a way to time monitor or discipline employees considered to be troublesome, including the use of cameras as a time clock. Some campuses, like Chico, have logical, common-sense video surveillance policies, while others do not.

Last week, the Chancellor's Office provided CSUEU with notice of a new system-wide video surveillance policy, which we will conduct a meet & confer over.

UCSF IT Layoffs

Because we're getting calls from members worried about this happening to us:
The UC contract for the laid-off IT employees had no language protecting them from displacement or layoffs. Our contract does.

The layoffs, announced last November at UC San Francisco, represented 20% of their campus IT staff, including 49 full-time staff members, 30 contractors, and 18 unfilled positions, located in four medical clinics. The campus claimed this was a $50 million dollar contract, with expectations of $30 million in savings over five years. The employees on the layoff list were required to train their replacements, located in India, via video conferencing. The vendor, HCL Technologies, plans to use H1-B visas to perform the work on-site.

A lawsuit has recently been filed by ten of these laid off workers, alleging discrimination based upon claims of national origin, gender, race, and age. 48 of the 49 laid off individuals were more than 40 years old, which puts them in a protected class. The employees to be hired from India were all young males.

Students Performing Unit 9 Work

Work tasks which should be performed by Unit 9 staff includes student assistants working without direct staff supervision (i.e. closing the library by themselves, wiring a smart classroom without a staff member being present, etc.). If you see something like this happening, please follow up on it. Students working around live electrical power and/or dangerous materials such as lead and asbestos may also be a health and safety risk.

Whistleblower Lawsuit

Gloria Allen from Sonoma reported on a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit by a former health and safety employee at Sonoma State. The court awarded just under $400,000 to the former employee, with an as-yet undetermined amount to be split among other affected employees.

New BUC 9 Member

With a vacancy on the Unit 9 BUC, Martin Brenner from CSU Long Beach has been added to the Unit 9 Council with the unanimous concurrence of the BUC. Welcome aboard, Martin!

Bargaining Update

Joseph Jelincic provided an in-depth overview of the contract proposals which both sides have presented to date.

Respectfully submitted,
Rich McGee, Unit 9 Chair

Sonoma Whistleblower Wins Lawsuit

Former Sonoma State University employee Thomas Sargent won a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit last week against the CSU and his former manager, Craig Dawson. Sargent, who worked as an Environmental Health & Safety Specialist, was awarded $387,895 in lost compensation and other damages.

Sargent reported campus mishandling of hazardous materials to state and local agencies. The university was cited and fined.

Sargent, a certified Asbestos Consultant, identified asbestos-containing dust in work spaces in Stevenson Hall in places where it would predictably be disturbed, as well as ongoing risks for the release of asbestos-containing material into the air. He was reprimanded after making a report to Cal/OSHA, and later suspended. High levels of asbestos were found in air shafts in the same building. (Stevenson is an older, 3-story building used for classrooms and offices.)

In an earlier incident, Sargent found lead-containing material on the roof the Physical Education building. Dawson disregarded Sargent's recommendation for its safe removal and instead had it scattered with a leaf-blower. After Sargent reported the incident to authorities, he received his first negative performance evaluation.

Sargent finally resigned under duress in July 2015, after serving the campus for 24 years. The Press-Democrat reports him saying he remains a supportive university alumnus and appreciates improvements made under the new campus president, Judy Sakaki, who assumed the post last July, succeeding Ruben Armiñana.

The lawsuit may help other employees as well. From the Press-Democrat:

But the complex case has much broader repercussions under a section of California Labor Code that allows aggrieved employees to recover civil damages on behalf of themselves, their co-workers and state occupational safety enforcement agencies.

A total of 231 staff and faculty assigned to Stevenson Hall, the building at the center of the case, stand to recover still-undetermined damages as a result of Sargent's case, at the discretion of Superior Court Judge Nancy Case Shaffer.


Sargent's lawyers said a preliminary calculation based on the verdict suggested as much as $2.5 million could be awarded, with 75 percent going to the state for work-place enforcement and training activities and the remainder being distributed among designated Stevenson Hall staffers.

The CSU, of course, disagrees with the verdict. Dawson continues as director of Environmental Health and Safety at Sonoma State.

Sonoma's CFA (California Faculty Association) chapter filed a grievance on behalf of faculty working in Stevenson, and hired a retired Cal/OHSA employee as a consultant.

The next hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for May 26.

Note: This suit was originally filed in 2014 by VaLinda Kyrias, a former chief steward from Sonoma's CSUEU Chapter 304 who was admitted to the state bar in 2010.