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Union staff notified of furlough alternatives

By Dave Jones on September 18, 2009 in University

UC Davis managers and supervisors today (Sept. 18) are informing represented employees that they face, at a minimum, temporary layoffs or reductions in time—as alternatives to participating in the systemwide furlough plan.

UC Davis also faces another thorny labor issue as the new academic year begins: a threatened faculty walkout on Sept. 24, the fall quarter’s first day of instruction.

Of immediate concern to some 4,400 represented employees (not counting those at the medical center, who are exempt from the furlough plan) is the furlough-alternative plan. Campus Human Resources officials advised managers and supervisors to distribute copies of the plan to affected employees today.

The furlough-alternative plan details how UC Davis intends to cut payroll costs for represented employees, in an amount comparable to what the campus is saving from the furlough plan that went into effect Sept. 1 for faculty and nonrepresented staff. Under the furlough plan, with some exceptions, faculty and nonrepresented staff must take 11 to 26 days of furlough time (corresponding to pay cuts of 4 percent to 10 percent; the more you make, the more days you must take off without pay, as detailed in this chart).

The UC Office of the President has been trying to get union leadership to sign on to the furlough plan. But, as of today, most unions had not agreed to participate.

Therefore, UC campuses are coming up with alternatives. UC Davis’ plan—allowing for reduction in time; permanent or temporary layoff; or, for lecturers, nonreappointment, reduction in appointment or indefinite layoff—represents “a very difficult decision” by the campus’s senior leadership, said Elizabeth Meyer, director of Employee and Labor Relations.

“It is recognized that the impact on represented employees will be serious,” she said. “The hope is that eventually the university will come to terms with the unions that represent our employees so that they can benefit from the safeguards that have been incorporated into the furlough program for nonrepresented staff.”

With those safeguards in place, pension calculations will continue to be based on prefurlough salaries, accrual of vacation and sick leave will not be reduced, and health and welfare benefits will not be affected.

The UC Office of the President previously announced furlough agreements with two small unions: International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501, representing about 100 employees at UC Riverside; and the Federated University Police Officers Association, representing more than 250 campus police officers (as safety workers, they are exempt from furloughs; still, they have agreed to forego any across-the-board wage increases or merit increases over the next two years, as well as step and longevity increases during the next 12 months.

UC Vice President Dwaine Duckett, in charge of systemwide Human Resources, said: “Certain staff unions like AFSCME, CUE and UPTE would not fully consider the furlough program by discussing it with or taking it to their members for a vote.

"Instead, for some unarticulated reason, they stood on principle, which has now forced temporary layoffs and reductions in time, as a means of cost reductions, as opposed to the less disruptive plans that everyone else is engaged in. As a result, those being laid off or having their time reduced face an interruption in their employment, loss of health benefits, pension credits and vacation accruals, among other things.”

UC Davis’ alternative plans are as follows:

Clerical Unit (CX), Research Unit (RX), Technical Unit (TX), Nurse Unit (NX) and Health Care Professional Unit (HX)—Temporary layoffs, with duration based on salary. The more you make, the more days off without pay, using the same salary bands that apply to faculty and nonrepresented employees, for figuring their furlough time. Deans and vice chancellors may opt for permanent layoffs instead of temporary layoffs, provided the decisions result in the required payroll savings and meet operational needs.

The applicable salary bands for the CX, RX, TX, NX and HX units:

$40,000 or less—11 days, equal to a 4 percent reduction in pay.

$40,001-$46,000—13 days, equal to a 5 percent reduction in pay.

$46,001-$60,000—16 days, equal to a 6 percent reduction in pay.

$60,001-$90,000—18 days, equal to a 7 percent reduction in pay.

$90,001-$180,000—21 days, equal to an 8 percent reduction in pay.

Each employee must take his or her temporary layoff days consecutively, within a specified 120-day time frame. Such time frames may vary among employees, depending on operational needs.

All such time frames will fall between the longer span of Feb. 1, 2010, and Aug. 31, 2010.

The plan specifies that temporary layoffs cannot occur immediately prior to or after a campus closure—but does not address whether temporary layoffs can occur on closure days.

At this time, Meyer said, the best she can offer is to advise represented employees to “contact their supervisors or Employee and Labor Relations to get more information about how campus closures will affect them.”

(The campus has designated 11 closure days in 2009-10, days that will count as furlough days for employees who are subject to furloughs. Seven closure days fall around Christmas and New Year’s, prior to the effect date for temporary layoffs for represented employees; two more closure days are scheduled between winter and spring quarters, and the last two after spring commencement.)

Service Unit (SX) and Patient Care Technical Unit (PCT)—Reduction in time, indefinite, to generate savings comparable to what the university would save if these employees participated in the furlough plan. Officials said the SX and PCT members will see a minimum reduction in pay of 4 percent, with all members taking the same cut, due to seniority issues. The reduction in time will be effective Nov. 1, 2009, through Aug. 31, 2010. Deans and vice chancellors may opt for permanent layoffs instead of reductions in time, provided the decisions result in the required payroll savings and meet operational needs.

Librarian Unit (LX)—Reduction in time, to generate savings equal to what the university would save if these employees participated in the furlough plan. Officials said each employee’s reduction in time would be based on his or her salary (with a minimum reduction of 6 percent, or 14 days). The reduction in time will be effective at the conclusion of a 90-day notice period and will continue through Aug. 31, 2010. The university librarian may opt for permanent layoffs instead of reductions in time, provided the decisions result in the required payroll savings and meet operational needs.

Meyer noted that as of midweek, the American Federation of Teachers (representing the LX Unit) was “actively engaged in positive discussions” with the university, regarding participation in the furlough plan.

Non-Senate Instructional Unit (IX)—Nonreappointment, reduction in appointment or indefinite layoff.

Faculty walkout

Dozens of UC Davis professors and lecturers are among more than 700 from around the system who have posted their names on a Web site supporting the Sept. 24 faculty walkout, which is described as a protest of UC’s handling of the budget crisis.

Further, many faculty members are angry that they are prohibited from taking furlough days on instructional days, while, at the same time, the faculty are expected to keep up with their research and public service.

Administrators and other faculty members say a walkout would punish students unfairly—on top of higher fees, fewer class offerings and more students crowding into lecture halls.

Chancellor Linda Katehi intends to inform students that they should attend their classes regardless. Meanwhile, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Enrique J. Lavernia has advised departments to prepare plans to meet the students and to handle critical administrative functions: taking attendance and recording possible overenrollment.

“I am prepared to provide departments with temporary support funds to achieve this,” Lavernia said in a Sept. 11 letter to deans and department chairs.

He voiced optimism that UC faculty would fulfill their teaching obligations, but added that the campus must be prepared “to fulfill our responsibilities to the students if walkouts do occur.”

On top of all this, the Union of Professional and Technical Employees has called for a one-day systemwide strike on Sept. 24 to press the union’s assertion that the UC Office of the President is not bargaining in good faith on a new UPTE contract.

University officials say any work stoppage by UPTE at this point would be unlawful. Further, “If a strike is illegal or unprotected under the law, an employee may face the possibility of disciplinary action for cause depending on the facts and circumstances,” officials said.

On the Davis campus, UPTE represents more than 1,800 employees in the RX (Research Support Professionals) Unit and the TX (Technical) Unit.


Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,