The University of California met last week with the Coalition of University Employees (CUE), the union representing UC clerical employees, with the hopes of concluding contract talks. However, due to remaining significant differences, the university has declared an impasse to facilitate resolution of the contract talks.
"We've been bargaining with CUE for over a year and a half and it's time to bring these negotiations to a close, even if that means formal impasse," said Gayle Cieszkiewicz, executive director of UC labor relations. "We're offering the best wages possible given the state budget crisis and its impact on UC salaries, but the union continues to demand wage increases that far exceed available funding and would amount to preferential salary treatment for clerical employees."
The university was expecting the union's new wage proposal to reduce the differences between the parties but instead, CUE's wage proposal expanded those differences. CUE not only reiterated its demand for 15 percent increases over two years, but expanded its request to include merit increases above and beyond the 15 percent. The university's latest wage offer -- 1.5 percent for 2002-03, and a total commitment of 2 percent for 2001-02 -- treats clerical employees the same as other UC staff. The 1.5 percent for 2002-03 is contingent upon reaching agreement on a comprehensive contract.
Because of these continuing significant differences, the university informed the union that it did not believe further movement could be achieved through normal bargaining. The university reiterated to CUE its commitment to reaching an agreement and to realize that goal, UC will immediately send a formal declaration of impasse to the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The university invited CUE to join in a mutual declaration of impasse.
The university will submit its impasse declaration to PERB and await its confirmation ruling. After confirmation, PERB will appoint a state mediator to work with both parties to try to facilitate an agreement. If mediation does not result in an agreement, then a state-appointed neutral labor expert chairs a panel that reviews the matter and recommends a non-binding solution.
The university has been attempting to negotiate a new employment contract for clerical employees with CUE since May 2001. UC presented CUE with a comprehensive settlement offer on Oct. 10 that required a union response by Oct. 31. The union rejected that offer, but asked to meet with UC in November to discuss UC's offer and to give the union the opportunity to present its own proposal.
Additional information about these negotiations is available at:
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