In a sadly comic rendition of “We’ve got plenty of nothing” sung in three part harmony by the CAPS leadership, President David Miller sang back up for Blanning and Baker LLC. Partners (and CAPS Agents) Chris Voight and Matt Austin. They put on the old song and dance for a weakly attended (less than 10% of membership) pre-contract negotiations informational meeting in Richmond at the CDPH auditorium on June 4th.
We will ponder the reasons for the weak attendance and offer a strategy for how State Scientists can gain pay parity, advancement opportunity, stable pensions and regular COLA’s after considering the strategy and tactics the President and the highly experienced Blanning and Baker team had to offer.
After telling us what we already know: our pay and benefits are 30% behind both local county and city benchmarks, that the 3% “won” in the last contract barely offset the pension give back, they acknowledged that this years’ negotiations are all about the money; that we’ve been waiting for a long time, that we “shared the pain”, that we’ve done more than our share for this governor and then Voight lamented that we have a stingy governor .
The following refrain was played over and again to a dwindling audience: You can help! Yes you can! Go to your managers, tell them to write the need for salary pay parity into the strategic plan, that is the only way it will go up through the chain of command of the state executive across to the legislative and create receptivity at the negotiating table.
They then referred to sympathetic Branch Chiefs like Barbara Materna who favor pay parity, admonishing the membership to be proactive and shoot this concept up the chain of command. This ignores the fact that many at the level above the Rank and File are Unit 10 supervisors*, many of whom are voluntary CAPS dues payers and should have been pushing this up the chain of command, according to the Blanning and Baker theory, for over a decade now. Additionally, if this is the strategy of the CAPS leadership they wouldn’t just drop it haphazardly at an informational meeting. They are not serious about this kind of campaign because if they were, they would be writing and calling the membership about it, they would provide informational packages to create template letters and petitions and provide a structure to run the campaign, either on paper or online, creating a record of the struggle for pay parity. But they are not serious. They threw this sop out because they have nothing else to offer. With this game plan the blame for the failure is assigned to the membership.
Their big negotiating ploy is to bring a young new employee to tell HR that he cannot afford to work for the State and if they do not fix the pay structure they will not be able to retain him. Blanning and Baker base this strategy on the false premise that HR cares if the departments fall apart. HR does not care; HR already knows. The Governor has drawn the line. Unions and programs that serve the people are on the chopping block. He is committed to imposing austerity at the expense of the state workers and the public who depend on state services. He will not be swayed by logic, mutual benefit schemes, or pleas from the underpaid. There is only one tool workers have which can win back what we lost and that is the All Public Workers Strike. To win, labor must also strike out independently of the bosses’ politicians and political parties, be they Democrats or Republicans and only run our own candidates in a workers party.
CAPS members were solicited to send any relevant Pay Parity information (ads for comparable jobs) to the negotiating team.
As benchmarks have been established for years, and considering that Blanning and Baker have staff already doing nothing for us, why don’t they run the Google searches for new employment and benchmark information? All this was a poorly presented song and dance obligatorily delivered without any pretense that CAPS (as organized today) can win!
What they did not mention was: that they choose to give “this stingy governor” $53K in his election campaign, that CAPS supported prop. 30 and No on prop.32 with the highest per capita contribution of any state workers, that we dropped our fight for reimbursement for the illegal furloughs, that they forgot to say anything about when we would get the money for the 2 stolen holidays that we worked, or that lack of COLAS have impacted our purchasing power >20% over the past decade, or that by accepting a two tier medical retirement benefit a wedge is driven between the various tiered workers, or that they have been denying the membership democracy for over a decade, or that Blanning and Baker partners took no cuts during the furloughs, or that the membership is purposefully demobilized to keep the strategy of partnership with management, of subsidizing politicians, lawyers and lobbyists, which ultimately gets us nothing but keeps the dues dollars flowing to the coffers of the Blanning and Baker LLC. partnership.
Why then did this pathetic trio play to an empty opera house? Because the members have been alienated from their organization by design. We know their record, we know how they have done it, we know how they violated the bylaws and the promises to hold meetings and when the last real meeting was. We know and can show that their installation of officers has been illegal under the CCC. So who would want to go down the block to see these guys? What have they ever done for us? We know that our final pay it tied more to the SEIU 1000 contract than to anything Blanning and Baker and the CAPS leadership negotiating team will supplicate for at the table.
Because all their strategies fail the workers, because they are never going to mobilize the membership and because they are in bed with management, the politicians and lobbyists, it is time for us to turn out the current leadership, fire Blanning and Baker LLC., and form a democratic union politically independent of the Democrats and Republicans.
*For over a decade the plan for pay parity has ridden a one trick pony, to win parity first for the supervisors by forcing the executives hand in court which presumably would result in corresponding Rank and File raises although the logic of this assumption would escape anyone who has ever worked for wages. The failure and future of this strategy was not even addressed at the meeting. Without this plan Blanning and Baker alongside Miller were grasping at straws telling us to beg management to fight for us in the strategic plan! Is this a joke or what?