FAQs: What Not Ratifying means

Misleading wording in the straw poll, and public statements by bargaining team members in favor of settling, have framed this as a vote on whether or not to go on strike. Voting no is not the same thing as voting for a strike. This is not a strike authorization vote. Not settling just means we continue to bargain. There would be several more steps and votes that would have to take place before a strike would be called.

What is a “credible strike threat” and how is that different from a strike authorization?

When we talk about “credible strike threat”, we are talking about the leverage that comes from being able to strike, not necessarily an actual strike. The ability to strike is where a union’s bargaining power comes from. The idea is that when management thinks the workers can pull off a strike, that encourages them to make better offers so that the workers won’t. Learn more about why we think this will help us win, here.
Settling involves giving up our right to go on strike for the duration of the contract. So in an abstract sense, not ratifying means we reserve the right to strike if we ever decide we want to and if we are out of contract. But realistically, the most likely outcome would be extending the current contract for another month or two, by mutual agreement. We would have until August 24 to decide how long to extend. This is a normal thing, and we’ve already done it once this year.

So what is this vote about?

Our bargaining team narrowly voted to send management’s proposal to membership for formal ratification, 8 in favor, 7 against, 1 abstaining (these do not add up to 18 because there are currently no bargaining team members representing UC Merced). If a majority of members vote “yes” on ratification, we will legally enter into a four-year contract and not have another legally protected opportunity bargain with a strike threat until 2022.

What happens if we vote not to ratify?

If we vote not to settle, we go back to the bargaining table and get to renegotiate anything we want. Some of our proposed language that the current offer does not meet can be found on this page, which shows what each side was proposing before we extended the contract to August 24 from its original expiration of June 30. The ballot sent by the bargaining team members who wanted to settle, spells out “what we’ve won” – but looking back at the record, it becomes clear this is more about “what we could still win”.
The official vote email presents several of management’s expressed preferences as if they were fact, but a successful no-ratification vote would change the material reality management is basing this on. The rushed timing of this vote is precisely so that we will have the result before contract expiration, leaving time to negotiate a contract extension in the event of a no vote. Management would prefer we settle now, of course, but if the membership demonstrates we’re not ready to settle, management will almost certainly want to extend the current contract (including its no-strike clause) rather than let it expire on August 24.

What if we aren’t able to negotiate a contract extension?

In the unlikely event that these negotiations are unsuccessful and management is unwilling to extend the current contract, then our contract will lapse. Even if the contract expires, we will still not be on strike yet.

A post from our last campaign – recovered from an archive, because the site was shut down sometime between June and August – explains:

The law protects our right to obtain information from UC relevant to fully represent our members and to bargain at a pace appropriate to well-researched, member-supported proposals.

Q.     What is the Union’s bargaining team looking to achieve in the current negotiations with UC management to recommend to its members for approval?

A.     We aim to make serious progress towards: a livable compensation package, improving the quality of education and research by controlling our workload, benefits for student-families, and stronger anti-discrimination processes.  For a full list of our demands please visit http://www.uaw2865.org/

Q.    The contract for TAs, GSIs, Tutors, and Readers expires Sept. 30, 2013.  If we haven’t concluded negotiations do we have big problems because we won’t have a contract?

A.    No. U.S. Labor law, including California’s Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Law (“HEERA”) requires that even though the contract has expired, wages, hours, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment, including those specified in the contract, must legally continue until bargaining is completed.  You will continue to be paid, work the same hours, and receive the same healthcare, etc.

Q.    Is it true many subjects where Management can now act without bargaining would, after September 30th, now first have to be negotiated with the Union before implementing new or changed policies?

A.    Yes

Q.    Are there provisions in the contract that are not considered “terms and conditions of employment” and do expire when the contract expires?

A.    Yes, there are some provisions which do terminate with the contractSeptember 30, if the contract is not extended by mutual agreement of the Union and UC management, and are only implemented if included in a new agreement:

Article 19:  No Strike
Article 18: Management Rights (to the extent the enumerated right of management to act unilaterally without bargaining with the Union goes beyond what HEERA allows)
Article 30: Waiver (to the extent that UC management acts unilaterally to introduce new policies without bargaining with the union and goes beyond what HEERA allows)
Article 14 E 3 Article that allows UC management to change Health Benefit carriers, coverage, rates)
Article 21 C Parking – allowing UC management to alter parking and transit rates, open or close lots or parking regulations without bargaining with the Union
Article 12 F: Arbitrations (Brand new grievances dealing with issues which arose after September 30 would not have to be arbitrated if the UC refused….although any such case, including discipline, could instead be filed as an Unfair Labor Charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”).

Q.    So, for one thing, if there’s no contract by October 1, 2013, ASE’s would be legally able to do work actions and work stoppages over grievances and other disputes, and they would be legally protected from discipline?

A.    Yes, that’s correct.  Because of other provisions within HEERA, unless Management commits an Unfair Labor Practice, the Union could not take work actions over the negotiations until a legal Impasse was reached and the Union and UC Management went through HEERA’s required Mediation and Fact-Finding procedures.  But, after September 30th, actions and stoppages over worksite issues and problems would not be prohibited.

Q.    What about deductions of dues and fair share fees?

A.    The requirement that UC deducts membership dues and fair share fees and transmits them to the Union is part of HEERA and thus not affected by the expiration of the contract.

To download this FAQ as a PDF, click here.

What about the straw poll?

The straw poll was advisory. This is the vote that counts.

Last week, the bargaining team conducted an informal “straw poll” over whether to send this for ratification. The result of the straw poll was essentially a 50-50 split. Numerous glitches in rollout of the straw poll call have cast doubt on its outcome, but even if the poll had been conducted perfectly, the spread between “yes” and “no” votes would still not reach statistical significance based on the raw number of respondents.

There is no consensus from the bargaining team nor the straw poll that we are ready to settle. Voting not to ratify gives us more time to engage as a membership and ensure we end up with a contract that works for all.

This vote is likely to be close, so spread the word!

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