VOTE NO ON THE CONCESSIONARY TENTATIVE AGREEMENT
SEIU 1000 which represents 95,000 California State employees brought back a concessionary tentative agreement which it is trying to sell to the membership. The content of this agreement is not dissimilar to that reached by 6 other state employee unions earlier in the summer. This tentative agreement must be rejected as it places the blame and responsibility for the capitalist crisis on the workers while ignoring the role of the banks and speculators in the ongoing and deepening crisis. Attacks on wages, benefits, retirement age and the defined pension along with cuts to social services are how the ruling class politicians intend to administer the crisis. Our leaders have chosen to go along without a fight. These are the highlights of the agreement as presented by SEIU negotiating team to the members; faults with the statement are in all capital letters.
· “We won a 3 percent wage increase that will be added to the top of each pay range; this is up from the state’s no raise proposal; annual step increases are maintained for all employees below the top step.” NO MENTION THAT THIS INCRESE COMES IN 2013
· “We reduced the governor’s demand for a 5 percent increase in employee pension contributions to a 3 percent increase.” THIS OFFSETS THE WAGE INCRESE ABOVE BUT STARTS IMMEDIATELY
· “We won a guarantee of no additional furloughs during the first year of the contract and, because of the Supreme Court’s recent decision, no furloughs in the second and third years unless the Legislature authorizes them in budget legislation.” THIS IS NOT A WIN THIS IS THE COURT DECISION-THIS CONCEEDS A FURLOUGH DAY SEE SECOND BULLET DOWN
· “We won a continuous appropriation guarantee, which protects our members from minimum wage in case of budget delays.”
· “Our members will receive 12 personal leave days in exchange for a one-time, 12-month, 4.62 percent decrease in pay.” THIS IS AN AGREEMENT TO TAKE THE FURLOUGH-THE POSITION UNTIL NOW HAS BEEN THAT THE FULOUGH WAS A LOCK OUT-ONCE THE FURLOUGH IS ACCEPTED IT IS NO LONGER A LOCK OUT BUT PART OF THE CONTRACT
· “Our members will receive two professional development days.” THIS IS IN LIEU OF THE TWO VACATION DAYS STOLEN FROM US WITHOUT REIMBURSEMENT BY THE GOVERNOR
· “We renewed more than 95 percent of the guarantees from our last contract.
“When our members ratify this tentative agreement, our new contract will provide us with security and certainty, preserve the contract protections and benefits we have fought so hard to secure, and allow us to continue providing California with vital public services.”
Yvonne R. Walker SEIU Local 1000 president”
Not mentioned in the SEIU letter are the following provisions designed to undermine union solidarity and split the new workers from those already vested. As reported by the Human Resources Branch:
1. “Return to pre-SB 400 retirement formulas for Miscellaneous and Industrial (to 2 percent at age 60), State Safety (to 2 percent at age 55) and Peace Officer (to 2.5 percent at age 55) retirement categories.
2. Change the pension benefit formula for employees in the firefighter and peace officer retirement categories from 3 percent at age 50 to 2.5 percent at age 55.”
The pressure to accept these concessions is on. Workers generally are kept in the dark. Many do not even understand the difference between a tentative agreement and an approved agreement. There are no mass meetings to discuss and vote on these agreements. There is no debate there are just under-attended informational meetings where the leadership of the SEIU comes in and sells the contract to the membership’s most active few.
The effect of accepting these concessionary agreements is being felt by the unions which have not reached tentative agreements yet. On Oct 13th, California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS) reported to its membership that the Governor has extended the three furlough days a month for its members until June 2011. This it appears is in violation of the ruling by the Supreme Court which last week stated that the Governor couldn’t unilaterally impose furloughs without the approval of the legislature.
This is the same type of pressure the Governor used in the summer when the first six unions signed tentative agreements to the concessions. At that time those unions which signed the concessionary agreements were told their memberships would not be subject to the threat of the minimum wage or to further furloughs. This blackmail obviously had major effect on the SEIU 1000 negotiating team, which caved in and collaborates with the Governor and the Democrats in enforcing these concessions on the membership.
What alternative do the unions have?
Considering that during the term of the furloughs to date most State of California employees have missed 54 days of work the new concessionary contracts take away another 12 days of work at minimum. Close to 66 days we have been locked out of work without an option for unemployment compensation.
Consider a manufacturing company lay off during a slow season they may send some workers home for three months those workers would get unemployment insurance prior to being reinstated. But the State of California employees are enduring a three month layoff over 30 months with no unemployment compensation. When we consider that by going along with out any resistance all this time we have lost so far 54 days and we have not made any positive impact on the negotiations (remember the agreements are tentative not signed yet) we could easily have gone on strike for a small percentage of the time and changed the dynamic and forced a fair contract. Instead of loosing 54 days we could have shut down the state and won our demands in less than two weeks.
If SEIU 1000 struck 95,000 strong based on the strike authorization vote they received in 2009 the State of California would have been forced to settle, and it probably would not have taken even 10 days. Right now we are in a similar position. The State wants a minimum of 12 furlough days with the possibility of more after one year. We can put an end to this by voting no on the tentative agreement and demand that our unions call an open ended strike to end furloughs once and for all.
FOR MASS RANK AND FILE MEETINGS TO OPPOSE CONCESSIONIONS!
USE UNION RESOUCES TO MOBILIZE THE MEMBERSHIP!
BUILD WORKER SOLIDARIY-HOLD JOINT INTER-UNION MEETINGS TO PREPARE STRIKE ACTION! FIGHT FOR A GUARAENTEED COLA!
BREAK WITH DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PARTYS WHICH PROMISE TO CRUSH OUR PENSIONS AND HOLD OUR WAGES DOWN!
END UNEMPLOYMENT AND DECLINING PURCHASING POWER FOR A SLIDING SCALE OF WAGES AND PRICES AND THIRTY HOURS WORK FOR FOURTY HOURS PAY! END THE FURLOUGHS & CUTS IN SOCIAL SERVICES!
Rank and File committee for democracy and action