Local 21 EXPRESS
January 29, 2015
Leaders Brainstorm Ways to Reach the Next Generation
With many of Local 21 Members and Leaders nearing retirement, it's critical to recruit the next generation of activists. At the January 24 Delegate Assembly, nearly 100 Members from across the Bay Area brainstormed ways to reach out to newer, sometimes younger colleagues. The session was led by Jim Potterton, Ph. D., labor instructor at San Jose City College. Suggestions included holding meetings outside the office, using social media more strategically, publicizing Local 21's achievements more widely, and organizing social events. We'll send more examples of the thoughtful and interesting ideas with the next Express.
New Oakland City Councilman Abel Guillen gave the keynote address, thanking Local 21 for helping in his election and urging unions to continue fighting for social justice. Delegate Assembly attendees accepted the Local 21 budget report, heard an update on the San Francisco office move, and recognized November election volunteers and PAC fund donors. Recently reelected Executive Committee Officers were also sworn in.
To see more photos of the Delegate Assembly, visit Local 21's flickr page.
Local 21 members engage in small group breakouts
Sutter Health Coverage for Blue Shield Participants in Danger
If you have Blue Shield healthcare coverage, you may have recently received a notice about a breakdown in negotiations between Sutter and Blue Shield that has resulted in the termination of Blue Shield’s contract with Sutter Health. If you haven’t seen this notice, you can find it on our website at www.ifpte21.org.
The potential impact to our Members -- having to change doctors or a hospital in the next few months -- is absolutely unacceptable and must be avoided. We are monitoring the issue closely, and have reports that the two parties are currently bargaining over resolving their dispute.
We are also working with other Unions representing workers affected by this decision to coordinate our response. Should the parties not be able to resolve their issues, we will urge each effected jurisdiction to allow employees to change coverage plans, if needed. As we hear of new developments, we will let you know.
Golden Gate Bridge District Members Settle Contracts
After 11 months of fierce bargaining and several demonstrations, our Members at the Golden Gate Bridge District have new contract agreements. Local 21 has been negotiating as part of the 13-union Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition. After our public actions, the District dropped many draconian proposals, and the new contracts include wage increases that keep pace with cost of living increases and preserve healthcare. The three-year Labor Coalition deal includes 3% raises each year, and a small increase in premium sharing -- about 0.2% in wages a year for Blue Shield PPO-participating Members.
These negotiations have been difficult and our Members honored the picket lines of coalition unions at a Machinists Local 1414 strike and a Ferry Strike held by Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association captains. Actions escalated in October when Teamsters Locals 665 and 856 announced that all their GGB units would go on a one-day strike at the bus division. The District requested that the Governor’s office intervene and call for a 60-day cooling off period. Governor Brown did not need to intercede because soon after, the District submitted an offer with raises and reduced its healthcare premium-sharing proposal dramatically. In December, side table bargaining sessions were held with the District and the framework for a settlement was reached. The L21 Engineering Unit made some minor language changes and added language that the District should provide necessary safety equipment to Members. The L21 Allied Unit won language that provides for wage equity adjustments of 7.5% for two represented classifications. Finally, the District agreed to drop management’s draconian proposal to eliminate comp time for all Allied Unit members.
Although the District succeeded in implementing a toxic healthcare plan option, it is clear that the Labor Coalition campaign resulted in a much better contract than what had been on the table on July 1, 2014. For example, in June 2014, District Painters, represented by a unaffiliated non-Labor Coalition union, accepted a much worse three-year contract with only a 2% in wages each year and a tripling in the cost of their Members' healthcare premiums.
Santa Clara Valley Water District Chapters Settle Unfair Labor Practice Charge
Our Engineers Society and Professional Management Association chapters recently signed a settlement reaffirming our Members' right to advocate issues with District Directors.
The issue came up in 2013 when Local 21 staff sent a letter to the District's Board of Directors, sharing our concerns regarding the District's misinterpretation of the state's pension reform law (PEPRA). District Labor Relations Officer Michael Baratz verbally agreed to extend an arbitration over the PEPRA disagreement, and then later accepted the request in an email. Baratz withdrew the extension after seeing the letter to the Board, saying Local 21 and our Members shouldn't have elevated the issue to Directors. Baratz's withdrawal constituted retaliation and is illegal.
After winning our grievance over the issue, Local 21 filed the Unfair Labor Practice complaint to eliminate any confusion on the matter. We are happy to reach the settlement and preserve the rights of our Members to communicate and advocate our concerns with the Board of Directors.
New Bullying Legislation Takes Effect
Employers are now required to include the topic of bullying in their sexual harassment prevention training. Assembly Bill 2053 went into effect January 1, 2015, and calls for education of and training on abusive conduct. Bullying has surfaced in a few of our jurisdictions as some of our Members have felt intimidated or mistreated at work.
Though the Bill adds necessary training, it does not include an original provision providing for corrective action if bullying occurs. Local 21 will keep our eye on the issue to see if it requires legislative follow up.
California employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisors. This training must be completed within six months of them becoming a supervisor, and then at least once every two years. The instruction must cover federal and state laws regarding prohibitions against sexual harassment, remedies available to victims, how to prevent and correct sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.