T.A. strike halted
December 10, 2008 6:34 PM
A potentially contentious strike by the union representing some 6,000 CSU employees was averted after a last-minute intervention by State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who called on union members and CSU administrators to head back to the bargaining table.
The strike was scheduled to begin Wednesday morning, Dec. 10, simultaneously across 21 campuses at 7 a.m. in response to recent failures between the United Auto Workers and CSU representatives to reach an agreement on a new contract for academic student employees.
At issue for the union are fee waivers for student employees, who have taken a 7 percent wage cut this year as fees increased.
But CSU administrators have said that such waivers would add an additional cost of $8 to 11 million a year during an unprecedented economic crisis facing the state, which in turn has proposed deep, statewide budget cuts.
A lone campus police officer was parked in a cruiser at 7 a.m. on Tuesday in an empty Malcolm X Plaza to inform anyone who may not have gotten the news: the scheduled UAW strike had been canceled.
One week before finals, teaching associates, graduate assistants, tutors and other instructional student assistants were expected to join the strike. But after Steinberg, D-Sacramento, urged both sides to “sit down ... and reach an agreement,” the UAW said it was open to renegotiating with the CSU.
“The bargaining team has agreed to postpone the strike…pending these meetings with the university and Senate President pro Tem Steinberg,” the UAW said in a statement to its members. “We believe that Steinberg will be a helpful influence on negotiations, and will…help us reach agreement on a fee waiver.”
The UAW is also the Union of Academic Student Employees, which represents various assistants throughout the CSU system. The union’s bargaining team voted Monday to strike, accusing the CSU of unfair labor practices in recent negotiations.
“The CSU’s unlawful bargaining includes not providing information critical to the bargaining process, not having the authority to bargain at the table, and conditioning resolution of one critical issue — a fee waiver for academic student employee.” the UAW said in a statement announcing to strike.
Representatives for CSU countered with their own statement Tuesday, defending the integrity of the negotiations while stating the parties “have reached agreement on all issues but fee waivers.”
“While the UAW claims that it has the right to strike because of alleged unfair labor practices by the CSU, the CSU’s position is that it has bargained in good-faith and that a strike at this time is unlawful,” the statement said.
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