The University of California is accusing the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) of leaking parts of a fact-finding report to Northern Californian newspapers before the end of a confidentiality period.
The UC has filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) claiming CUE violated the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act by leaking parts of the report to Oakland-based newspapers The Recorder and The Public Interest Newswire, UC spokesman Noel Van Nyhuis said. He said UC is currently awaiting a response from PERB before taking any further action.
The report, written by Gerald R. McKay — a neutral party appointed by the state — analyzed the UC and CUE wage negotiation process that took place last November. Among other suggestions, the report recommends UC increase equity wages to CUE members by 90 percent to end the deadlock between the two parties over the 2003-04 wages of UC clerical workers. At the time of the leak, the report was under a 10-day confidentiality period that ended on Feb. 17, Van Nyhuis said.
Melinda Gándara, CUE clerical unit bargainer for UCSB, denied the allegations.
“[CUE] is adamant that we were not a part of this leak,” she said. “I don’t think there will be any repercussions.”
Brandon Johnson, CUE president at UCSB, said UC is blaming the union for the leak because the report is in favor of pay increases for University clerical workers.
“They’re using a procedural technicality to avoid how damaging this report is to their claims,” he said.
Van Nyhuis said McKay’s report contradicts itself regarding the wage increase recommendation for CUE workers.
“The neutral fact-finder agreed with the University — not to give CUE an across-the-board wage increase,” Van Nyhuis said. “Then [McKay] said to give a 90 percent equity increase to CUE. That’s still an across-the-board increase.”
Johnson said the University is exaggerating the effects of California’s budget crisis on its spending.
“According to UC Vice President Jerry Kissley, the University, last year, diverted $20 million [from wages] and added it to their reserves,” Johnson said.
But Van Nyhuis said the state legislature did not give the UC any money for salary increases last year, and the University had no more money to allocate to clerical workers. He also said UC needed the money to prepare for the future.
“The money has to go to reserves to help with expansion and student loans,” he said, “The net revenues must be put into reserves for expansion because we are seeing an enormous growth in enrollment. We’re under the gun to accommodate in a relatively short time. We really have no choice but to hold onto reserves.”
Johnson also said CUE’s requested salary increase is necessary because UC clerical workers earn less money than their counterparts in the California State University system and at other universities.
“Even the neutral fact-finder said in his report that clerical workers are among the lowest paid in the UC system,” he said.
Giving CUE such an increase would be unfair to University employees who are not members of the union, because they did not receive across-the-board wage increases last year, Van Nyhuis said.
The report, however, agrees with the University on issues regarding employee parking rates and health benefits. In the report, McKay’s findings agree with UC’s contention that parking rate increases are necessary in order to support the expansion of University facilities. The report also did not recommend an increase in health benefits, because the union did not provide enough evidence to show lower premiums were necessary.