New contract, new chapter president and no big changes for CSU employees union

Marc Evangelista

The California State University Board of Trustees voted May 20 to approve a new three-year contract agreement, previously ratified by the California State University Employees Union.

The agreement, which extends until June 2014, covers more than 15,000 CSU employees.

The union consists of staff members throughout the 23 campuses of the CSU which include registered nurses, custodians, library assistants, information technology consultants and performing arts technicians.

“There are no big changes to this new contract from the previous one except the wording,” said Hai-Ling Tang, president of the union’s Northridge chapter. “We make sure that they used better wording because the meanings can be understood in different ways.”

Eleven days after the new contract approval Hai-Ling Tang was named chapter president at CSUN, after 14 years as secretary for the chapter.

“I felt that I could do more as President,” said Tang. “I want to do better so I can help the union.”

The contract, which covers more than 29 different articles, encompasses all aspects of employee matters such as salaries, hours, working conditions and benefits.

“There were no changes to our parking fees or to our health benefit formula but under the current circumstances they did very well as a bargaining unit,” said Sylvia Freiberg, Northridge chapter secretary. “I feel safe and secure that I have representation.”

When the contract expires, labor negotiation teams will work on a new agreement or have the option to extend on a current one.  The Board of Trustees, together with the Employees Union, work on a contract agreement every three years which both sides must ratify.

Upon approval of a new agreement by the Board of Trustees, employees still have the option to negotiate their salary every year which always depends on the state budget.

“What’s significant about this specific contract is that they realize it’s a challenging time for the CSU and so the employee union agreed not to ask for salary increases,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, Chancellor’s Office Director of Media Relations and New Media.

Despite the adjustments hitting the entire union, not much change has occurred.

“We couldn’t get more money because of our state budget being so bad,” said Tang. “From what I can remember, we haven’t received salary increases in the past six years.”