In a letter to members this afternoon, SEIU Local 1000 officials said that they are preparing to negotiate with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration early next month, spurred by his proposal to put state workers on a 4/9.5 workweek that would cut their hours and pay by 5 percent.
The chairs of Local 1000's nine bargaining units said that whatever concessions they negotiate will be put in a "side letter" agreement. That would avoid reopening the local's contracts.
Ahead of that, union officials are soliciting savings ideas to offer as alternatives to Brown's furloughs. Next week the local will conduct an online survey of members.
The union's bargaining team will review all of that information ahead of negotiations scheduled to start June 9. Whatever agreement is reached at the table will go to the rank and file for a ratification vote.
Here's the union's rationale for bargaining cuts:
"As the elected leaders of all nine bargaining units within Local 1000, we agreed that it's better to be aggressive participants in the effort to find solutions to achieve savings. We intend to be part of the action, not acted upon.
"We could have said 'no,' and demanded that the governor honor our contract. By staying engaged, we minimize the potential for a huge number of layoffs and even deeper cuts in vital services, like education and the programs that serve California's most needy."
Here's the entire letter:
From: SEIU Local 1000
Date: May 24, 2012 3:42:18 PM PDT
Subject: News from Local 1000: employee compensation
Local 1000 prepares to bargain over state employee compensation
Local 1000's member-elected bargaining team voted Tuesday to accept Gov. Brown's request to meet over his proposal for a four-day work week. Our team will meet with the state in early June to bargain solutions and produce a "side letter" agreement related to the costs of providing state services to all Californians.
A "side letter" is not uncommon - it is a negotiated amendment to an existing contract. All provisions of our contract, which expires June 30, 2013, remain in full effect.
While side letters do not require ratification, Local 1000 is working on an expedited ratification process that will allow members to vote on any agreement reached with the state.
The state is experiencing a $16 billion shortfall in revenue. Gov. Brown's May revise budget proposes many painful cuts, not only to state workers, but to Californians in general. He has proposed reducing state employee compensation $839 million (5%) - and has asked all labor unions representing state workers to come to the table. His proposal includes the implementation of a four-day, 38.5-hour workweek to achieve his 5% savings goal.
As the elected leaders of all nine bargaining units within Local 1000, we agreed that it's better to be aggressive participants in the effort to find solutions to achieve savings. We intend to be part of the action, not acted upon.
We could have said "no," and demanded that the governor honor our contract. By staying engaged, we minimize the potential for a huge number of layoffs and even deeper cuts in vital services, like education and the programs that serve California's most needy.
Our bargaining team will meet from June 6-8 to review member input and to create a strategy that includes cost-saving solutions while protecting our members' jobs and income.
Already, Local 1000 has received more than 1,000 cost-saving suggestions from members. You are encouraged to send in your ideas by clicking here.
On Tuesday, May 29, Local 1000 will email an invitation to members, inviting them to participate in an online survey about employee compensation. The results will be tabulated and provided to our bargaining team.
Bargaining scheduled to begin June 9
Local 1000's bargaining team will meet with the governor's representatives beginning June 9. We will negotiate at a master table, with all bargaining units present. No separate unit negotiations will take place.
While California's budget crisis is not news, the governor's approach puts Local 1000 in uncharted territory. There are many, many questions - and we have responses to the most asked ... you can read those by clicking here.
As we progress through negotiations, we will keep you informed through our statewide field staff, Local 1000 stewards and the Member Resource Center. We will report via email, our website, Channel 1000 and through the weekly Update newsletter.
As the chairs of your member-elected bargaining team, we take our responsibility seriously. Our goal is to keep as many of our members working as possible, while working to identify reasonable solutions that reduce pressure on state employees whenever California is in budget trouble.
Your Local 1000 Bargaining Unit Chairpersons
Brenda Modkins, Unit 1
John Kern, Unit 3
Sophia Perkins, Unit 4
Brad Willis, Unit 11
LaVerne Archie, Unit 14
Robyn Sherles, Unit 15
Kimberly Cowart, Unit 17
Rionna Jones, Unit 20
Miguel Cordova, Unit 21