Teamster Public Safety Workers Bargain for Fair Pay and Proper Staffing

Teamster Public Safety Workers Bargain for Fair Pay and Proper Staffing

After months of actions culminating in our members speaking at the Regents Meeting on September 26, our bargaining team of Teamster Public Safety workers from across the State sat down to bargain with UC for fair pay and adequate staffing. Over two days, November 15-16, we made substantial progress toward a side letter to address these issues. Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz led the negotiations for the Union.

Our team members spoke eloquently about the severe understaffing and overwork, and its terrible impact on quality of work life and campus safety.

“Dispatching is difficult work,” said UC Davis Dispatcher Tamar Rein. “What we do at UC is difficult even by dispatching standards.”

“With our understaffing, it’s not a matter of IF an officer, student, or citizen is hurt or killed as a result it is a matter of WHEN,” said Darin Biamonte, UCSB dispatcher.

Our team came to bargaining armed with a tremendous amount of research showing that at many campuses our UC dispatchers are underpaid compared to the market, which exacerbates the understaffing problem.

The Union and University discussed implementing a step structure for public safety dispatchers where workers receive step increases annually so long as they receive a satisfactory evaluation. The top step would be the market rate for dispatchers in the area for each campus. The University proposed a seven-step structure, while the Union proposed a five-step structure, which is more in line with the practice in most other public safety agencies across the state. The parties did not reach agreement on what the pay for the top step will be at each campus but agreed to exchange proposals on these issues at the next session.

In exchange for the proposed increase, the University proposed changes to Compensatory Time Off (CTO), Holiday Pay, Consecutive Work Days, Training and Development, and other contract language.  The Union tentatively agreed to making some reasonable changes to CTO but did not agree to exclude dispatchers from other rights in the contract, which would only worsen the problems of overwork.

The University did not propose any changes for our Public Records personnel, and the Union responded that bargaining over records personnel is also required under Appendix U, and that we will insist on doing so.

“We came a long way towards winning fair pay and proper staffing for our Teamster dispatchers,” said Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz. “Our team of dispatchers did a great job and we look forward to reaching a fair agreement.”

The parties agreed to continue bargaining in January 2019.

Day 1

The University presented its initial proposal.

Here are the key points of the University proposal:

  • No proposals for Records Personnel. All points below apply to Dispatchers.
  • A reduction in the number of steps from 15-19 depending on the campus to a systemwide 7 steps with 4% increments between steps compared to the current 2-3% increments. A Dispatcher would advance to the next step each year if they received a satisfactory or greater performance evaluation. Placement of current Dispatchers on the new salary schedule would be determined by their departments.
    • The top salary step would be determined annually for each campus and be equivalent to the market rate for comparable Dispatcher titles in the region (the University did not propose what agencies would be market comparators).
      • Anyone with salary rates above the determined market rate would be red-circled and receive 3% lump sum payouts instead of the annual 3% raises in the CX contract until the market rate caught up with their current rate.
      • All lower steps would be determined from this top step rate, with Step 1 being 76% of the top step, Step 2 being 80%, etc.
    • Exclude Dispatchers from being covered by CX contract Article 9.C.2.c and G that allow hours worked on holidays to be counted as hours worked towards overtime in certain circumstances and guarantee members receive at least one of the two-day major holiday blocks (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s) off respectively.
    • Exclude Dispatchers from Article 10.H (Changing and Clean Up Time) that counts time where members are required to clean-up or change uniforms as time worked towards determining overtime.
    • Replace compensatory time off (CTO) language in Article 10.L.3.b (Compensation of Overtime) with the UC Police Officers’ Association contract’s CTO language that caps accrued CTO at 60 hours (versus 240 hours currently) and prevents the CTO bank from being refilled so you can only earn a maximum of 60 hours in a year (currently can refill CTO bank). Departments would have discretion to set a higher accrual maximum. Current accrued CTO in excess of this amount would be paid out, but this would not affect any scheduled CTO. The University could also require CTO to be taken. CTO requests by Dispatchers would not be approved if they would result in overtime or backfilling.
    • Exclude Dispatchers from Article 10.M (Consecutive Days of Work), which, depending on a member’s schedule, requires that they receive overtime after working a certain number of days consecutively.
    • Modify Article 20 (No Strikes) so that even if the contract expires, Dispatchers could not go on strike.
    • Expressed openness to modifying Article 22 (Out-Of-Classification Assignment) to have systemwide procedures for Dispatcher training pay but did not have any specific proposals.
    • Modify Article 28.D (Per Diem Appointments) to clearly allow for there to be Per Diem Dispatchers.
    • Exclude Dispatchers from Article 38 (Training and Development), which provides 40 hours of paid release time for approved training per year and reimbursements for certain tuition/training expenses.

Day 2

Our team considered the University’s proposals and presented a counter-proposal.

Our counter-proposal included the following:

  • Made clear that we wanted to discuss the side letter provisions concerning Records Personnel further given that the side letter covers both Dispatchers and Records Personnel. Our Records Personnel members should not be left out of this bargaining.
  • A 5-step salary schedule with 5% increments between the steps, which is the standard for dispatch titles across the state, and placement for current Dispatchers based on years of service.
    • Those with 4+ years of service would be at the top step, 3+ years of service at Step 4, 2+ years of service at Step 3, etc.
    • The top step would be the market rate like in the University’s proposal.
      • Dispatchers with above-market/red-circled pay rates would continue to receive annual raises guaranteed by the CX contract as they do now rather than the lump sums proposed by the University.
      • The contract raises would replace annual changes to the step structure with the market in the University’s proposal. Our proposal would not result in lower pay for Dispatchers currently making above any market rate.
    • Salary step progression would be the same as the University’s proposal, but a Dispatcher would be able make up for a step increase missed in one year by reaching satisfactory or better in the next year’s performance evaluation.
    • Left open for further discussion developing training, certification, retention, education incentive, shift differential, and equity pay.
    • Objected to the University’s proposed changes to Article 9.C.2.c and 9.G , Article 10.M (Consecutive Days of Work), Article 20 (No Strikes), and Article 28.D (Per Diem Appointments). The CX contract status quo would remain the case for these articles.
    • Modified University’s proposed change for Article 10.H (Changing and Clean Up Time) to reopen the section for bargaining if the University implements a policy requiring Dispatchers to change at work.
    • Instead of excluding Dispatchers from Article 38 (Training and Development), proposed having the 24 hours of required POST training every 2 years count against the 40-hour annual training and development time accrual.
    • Modified the University’s proposed CTO language to leave the CTO annual accrual maximum at 240 hours rather than 60 hours. CTO would not be refillable as it was in the University’s proposal, meaning a Dispatcher could not earn more than 240 hours CTO in a year before it is paid out. Added a provision allowing a Dispatcher to select prior to each overtime assignment whether to accrue CTO or be paid for overtime if the option is available rather than having to choose one or the other for an entire year as is the case now (except at UCLA where this proposal is already in effect). Our proposal made clear that a Dispatcher would have the ability to try and schedule their CTO in the 30-day notice window prior to it being paid out by the University. Would require 30 days’ notice in any case where the University required a Dispatcher to take CTO. Removed sentence restricting approval for Dispatcher CTO requests if they would result in overtime or backfilling.