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Ruling recognizes collective bargaining rights

By Daily Bruin Staff

January 10, 1999 9:00 pm

Monday, January 11, 1999

Ruling recognizes collective bargaining rights

SAGE: University claims decision conflicts with UC Berkeley
precedent

By Andy Shah

Daily Bruin Staff

UC teaching assistants (TAs), readers and tutors who staged a
strike last month to gain union recognition have still not received
what they are demanding, but they are hailing a ruling by the
California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) as a major
victory.

The 2-1 ruling, issued days after the strike ended on Dec. 6,
states that TAs, readers and tutors, specifically at UCLA, are
employees of the university with bargaining rights.

The PERB ruling rejects the university’s contention that TAs are
not employees of the university because their work is part of their
educational experience. The university previously did not dispute
that tutors and readers are UC employees and entitled to
unionization.

"The ruling is absolutely significant because it requires the
university to either voluntarily recognize the union or submit to
the results of an election that PERB would hold," said Connie
Razza, an organizer for the Student Association of Graduate
Employees/United Auto Workers (SAGE), the union that represents
academic student employees at UCLA.

An election would be conducted among TAs, readers and tutors to
determine whether they want SAGE to be certified as their
collective bargaining representative.

But university officials said the PERB ruling conflicts with the
1992 findings of a state Court of Appeals case involving TAs at UC
Berkeley. The court found that collective bargaining for TAs at
that school would interfere with the goals of graduate education,
said UC general counsel James E. Holst in a statement.

"The university is asking PERB to forward the UCLA case to the
state Court of Appeals for review (because of the conflict)," said
UC spokesman Brad Hayward.

Razza said the 1992 case did not set a binding precedent for
future rulings.

"PERB has repeatedly set aside that ruling as unprecedented
because it used stale evidence from 1984," she said. "That ruling
hasn’t been precedent for five years."

Organizers for SAGE said the PERB ruling is consistent with a
1996 ruling made by administrative law judge James Tamm, which
states that TAs have bargaining rights.

TAs, readers and tutors throughout the UC system went on strike
on Dec. 1, seeking to obtain collective bargaining rights.

"We want a fair say in the terms and conditions of our
employment," Razza said.

SAGE and the university are currently engaged in talks during a
45-day "cooling off" period, which started when the union agreed to
end the strike on Dec. 6.

"The talks have allowed the university and the union to discuss
the issues related to the strike and have given both sides a better
understanding of the other side’s concerns," Hayward said. Both
sides have already met twice, and another meeting is scheduled for
this week.

Razza said that if the union is not recognized by Jan. 20, the
final day of the "cooling off" period, then it will pursue "further
action," possibly including another strike.

UCLA officials played down the effects of the strike, saying it
didn’t have a significant impact on undergraduate instruction and
final exam grading.

"To my knowledge, there were no late grades and no after-effects
of the strike," said Judith Smith, vice provost of undergraduate
education for the College of Letters & Sciences. "Whatever work
was missed (by the striking TAs) was made up."

Razza said that as talks continue, union members are getting
impatient with the university’s handling of the situation, such as
its request for a legal review of the PERB decision.

"The issue of union recognition doesn’t go to a court of law,"
she said.

But Executive Vice Chancellor Rory Hume said the university will
go through the courts because the 1992 case involving UC Berkeley
TAs is the university’s legal precedent on the issue of collective
bargaining.

"We hope to have a resolution through the legal process rather
than through an industrial action," he said.

Comments, feedback, problems?

© 1998 ASUCLA Communications Board[Home]

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