The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSU dickers over student fee waivers

The United Auto Workers Union, Local 4132, the union of academic student employees, has filed an unfair labor practice against the California State University for failing to disclose almost $4.3 million while claiming they did not have the budget to pay for student worker fee waivers.

The CSU/UAW discussions concerning the Fee Waiver Benefit concluded last week after negotiating since July 2006.

The UAW public relations representative, James Banks, said the contract had been completed, but the contract bargaining was reopened when the fee waiver article was disputed by the CSU. Because no agreement was reached, the UAW and CSU went into the fact-finding portion of negotiations. Similar to the California Faculty Association and CSU’s long and bitter contract negotiations, the fact-finder report was released to strong dissent from the UAW.

According to the UAW, the fact-finder’s report was flawed because the CSU failed to disclose critical financial information and released misleading information.

“On April 20, 2007, the Union learned that CSU had not disclosed to the fact finding panel that it had budgeted for $4,283,100 more than it spent in salaries for UAW-represented employees in ? 2005/06,” the UAW report stated. “This amount is equal to the cost of providing nearly one-half of the fee waiver benefit the Union was seeking.”

The UAW contract states that if the CSU has enough funding, then it will cover the fee waiver benefit.

The UAW report also stated that “To date CSU has not explained where the $4,283,100 allocated in the budget actually went.”

The CSU Associate Budget Director, Chris Canfield, declined to comment on the state of the budget or the UAW accusation, saying, “We are not the negotiators.”

CSU media relations representative Paul Browning e-mailed a copy of the CSU’s response to the accusation.

It states, “The UAW’s assertion is false for several reasons: There was a single, minor error made which was irrelevant to the neutral fact-finder’s decision. That error consisted of CSU’s estimate of total FY 06/07 Unit 11 employee’s compensation as being $38.4 million instead of $30.1 million ? As soon as the CSU discovered its error, it immediately reported the correct figure to the UAW.”

The report also states that after the fact-finder’s report was released, the CSU continued negotiations for another two weeks, but nothing was resolved.

“The parties were unable to resolve their differences and no change in the parties’ current three year Agreement was negotiated,” the report stated under the fourth reason why the UAW’s assertion is false.

The fact-finder’s report said that “employers in large multi-unit jurisdictions rarely give compensation increases to one union that are significantly larger than the pattern settlement.” In spite of the fact that the new contract negotiated with the faculty union exceeded the funds provided in the Governor’s Compact, the fact-finder panel felt it was not a precedent for other unions.

The student employees represented by the UAW Local 4123 make on average $10,000 less than $17,932, the CSU estimate of the basic costs of going to school. In order to keep their job, as a teaching assistant or graduate assistant, they must be students.

The main discrepancy of these numbers is due to, according to the UAW, the “skyrocketing” cost of CSU fees. In 1990, full-time undergraduates paid $920 per year, but in 2006 the cost had risen 348 percent to $3,199.

The UAW contends that similar institutions around the country, including the University of California system, all provide full fee waivers to their academic student employees, because they provide the most face-to-face instructional services.

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