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State denies the UC negotiation assistance

By Shane Nelson

Dec. 4, 2002 9:00 p.m.

The state labor relations board delivered a double-punch to the
University of California last week, sending them back to the
bargaining table with its clericals’ union.

Last week the Public Employment Relations Board denied the
UC’s Nov. 21 request for state assistance to end its
year-and-a-half long negotiations by declaring impasse with the
Coalition of University Employees.

In a letter, PERB urged both parties to “return to the
table in a good faith effort to narrow the gap of their
disagreements.”

The clericals’ union is pleased with the state’s
decision; it didn’t agree they were at an impasse because the
university failed to provide them with critical information in a
timely manner, said CUE President Claudia Horning.

“We think it sends a message to the university that they
are not above the law, which is what they have been acting
like,” she added.

If the state had determined both parties were at impasse, CUE
couldn’t have appealed the decision.

Ten out of 47 issues remain unresolved. Wage disputes continue
to be paramount.

The university thought independent mediation and “fact
finding” would be the best way to move toward resolution,
said UC Press Aide Abby Lunardini.

CUE maintains the university declared impasse so it could end
negotiations and impose its last contract offer on the union.

In addition to denying the university’s request for
impasse, PERB issued the UC an unfair labor practice complaint for
bad-faith bargaining with CUE the same day.

The UC has said CUE’s charge is without merit and plans to
present supporting information at the upcoming settlement
conference, according to a statement.

When a party files a charge, it is assigned to an attorney to
investigate, said PERB Regional Director Les Chisholm. If he
determines the respondent violated state law, he declares it a
complaint, Chisholm said.

“A complaint is not a finding that a violation has
occurred,” he added, explaining that the facts of the case
have to be verified in a settlement conference where a state
mediator is assigned to work with both parties toward a resolution
of the complaint.

The UC and CUE should be meeting sometime in January, Lunardini
said.

About half of the charges filed result in complaints, and about
half of those are resolved at the informal settlement conference,
he said.

This is the ninth CUE complaint PERB has issued to the UC, out
of more than 20 charges. The board has also issued one complaint to
the union for its two-day system-wide strike in October.

The University Council-American Federation of Teachers has also
filed a number of unfair labor practice charges against the UC.

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