Academic Professionals of California, Local 4373
The United Professors of California (UPC) was founded in the 1960s as the result of a statewide merger of AFT state university locals and chapters of the Association of California State College Professors. Nineteen independent locals were established around the state under the umbrellas of UPC. UPC included an academic support unit, which later became Academic Professionals of California, APC, AFT Local 4373.
The academic support unit was created in the early 60s. The university had begun at that time to downgrade the status of academic employees, and attempted to do away with their tenure and promotional rights. The unit as it was constructed was quite a polyglot affair, with administrative employees who teach as part of their load, academic support personnel, student services professionals, extended education specialists, and others: a total of forty classifications in the unit. (In fact, former president of APC Ernie Scosseria has characterized the unit as “an alphabet soup unit”, and its history as “a history of initials.”) Practically everyone has at least a B.A., and most positions require advanced degrees.
By 1981 UPC had several thousand members. The role of the academic support employees in the union had grown considerably. That year, Carol Wallish became the Secretary of UPC, the first academic support employee to hold a statewide office in the union. In 1982 the collective bargaining election was held for the statewide faculty and academic support units. The UPC faculty lost by 39 votes out of 13,000 cast statewide; the “unit 4″ election was won by the AFT academic support group by a comfortable margin. The leadership of what was soon to become APC immediately began meeting to put together our first contract proposal. Negotiations began in early 1983, with Ricardo Torres, Carlos Skeete, Nancy Jorgenson, Steve Koletty, Nancy Slaven, Mary Valentine and Stew Long representing the academic professionals at the table. AFT national staff member Kaye Faulkner provided assistance. Negotiations ended with a 9% raise, which the union considered only to be “catch-up” money for ground lost since the 60s.
CSU wanted to create a subclass within the unit called “non-academic employees”. This group would have had virtually no rights except for time and a half for overtime. The union succeeded in keeping this take-back out of the contract, getting them classified as “administrative employees”. Another important element of the first contract, initially resisted by CSU, was a grievance procedure with binding arbitration. Dental care became part of the benefits package for the first time. Before the next round of negotiations, vision care was added as well. Academic employees were more or less pleased by the first contract. Administrative employees were less happy with one portion of it, since the university refused to negotiate a reform of reclassification procedures.
In the first union elections held after collective bargaining, Ricardo Torres was elected President; Ernie Scosseria Northern VP; Mary Valentine Southern W; Nancy Jorgensen, Secretary, and Steven Koletty Treasurer. The two year contract provided for reopeners in off-years on six articles including salary and benefits. CSU had proposed a new classification system affecting two thirds of the unit, which the union challenged. PERB ruled that classification was not within the scope of collective bargaining, and CSU met with us but refused to allow input into the process. They said all they would do is bargain the “impact” of the classification on probation, salary and benefits. Relations between the union and administration during these negotiations were so acrimonious that since that time CSU has discussed re-classification systems before implementing them.
In 1985 Academic Professionals of California, AFT Local 4373 officially came into being as a statewide local with nineteen autonomous chapters, one per campus. Governance was established as a division of powers between the APC Council, with each chapter sending one elected representative, and an Executive Board with eight officers. Later the second slate of officers was elected. These were Ernie Scosseria, President; Tony Garduque, Vice-president for Communications; Susan Stephens, Secretary; Nolan Shaffer, Treasurer; Ray DeLeon, Vice President for Membership; and Wiggsy Sivertsen, Vice President for Legislative Action.
There was a lot of money on the table in that same year when the contract came up for renegotiation. The CSU put forward a proposal for a new classification series that would have benefitted some of the unit at the expense of others, creating a serious political problem for the bargaining team of APC, which consisted of Torres and Kollety again, along with Ernie Scosseria, Ray DeLeon, Carlotta Calmese, and Carol Göerke.
Approximately 40% of the unit supported the agreement; roughly the same amount did not, and the rest were not affected. Meanwhile the debates and intense discussion within the union held up an 11% raise, which had already been agreed upon; 60% of the members were not happy about that. The APC bargaining team tried hard to work out the best agreement to protect as many members of the unit as possible. Eventually the new classification was implemented. As a consolation to the section of the unit that felt unhappy about the result, the union did gain two days vacation per month; the right to peer review; and a professional development program for those members without doctorates, so that employees in the lower reclasses gained the possibility to move up.
Nearly forty grievances were filed by the union on behalf of members, directly due to the new reclassification system. The union also gained the right for those members not directly affected by the reclass to ask for a review to be placed into the student services or professional series. At Sacramento State, three employees asked for a reclassification, and despite the contract language, management refused. When the employees tried to appeal to a peer review, they were refused the right to do that. The union took their case to arbitration and won.
The 1987 contract gains featured an innovative and progressive funeral leave clause for non-married significant others/domestic partners. Led by the team of Scosseria, Torres, Gale Pemberton, Beverly Staples, Bill Huling, and Tony Garduque, wage gains were 4% for the first year and 6% for the second. Other improvements included improved career advancement and professional development programs, greater protection against layoffs, dependent health coverage, and deferred taxes paid for childcare expenses. Clarence Boukas, CFT field representative, helped the negotiations team. From 1985-87 Mary Valentine worked as a fulltime staff person for APC, coordinating membership drives, publications and legal concerns. Her salary was paid by the national office of the AFT.
In 1988 CSU unions buried the hatchet of past enmities and founded the CSU Labor Council. All six unions, including APC, came together initially to put an end to increases of parking fees for employees, and began joint work on a project at the center of power for the CSU administration: budget reform. The budget of the CSU has been called a “black hole” by the APC leadership, and that characterization aptly describes the current accountability system for spending. Also on the agenda for the Labor Council is on-campus childcare and building an alliance with student government to create a broad-based united front to present to the CSU Trustees. The Council, it is hoped, will create clout through solidarity unavailable to any of the individual unions by themselves.
The CSU decided in 1988 not to pay anyone merit pay increases. Mass demonstrations were called by the campus Labor Councils. At one campus, where traditionally there has been an “ice cream day” each year where the Chancellor provides ice cream free to all employees, he was greeted with the chant “Let it Melt, Let it Melt!” At another, the President of Hayward State refused to answer a question by current APC President Gale Pemberton at a beginning-of-school, campus-wide meeting, whereupon she led a walkout of over 100 staff.
While the Labor Council augurs well for all the employees of the CSU, APC has created its own share of victories. One outstanding recent example, in 1989, occurred at Cal Poly Pomona, when the union won a grievance that had gone to arbitration, with full back pay for the affected employee.
In spring of 1989, a new slate of officers was elected. These were: Gale Pemberton, President; Patrick O’Reilly, First Vice-President; Wiggsy Sivertsen, Vice-President for Legislative Action; Rosie Woods, Treasurer; Susan Stephens, Secretary; Joseph Scheitzach, Vice- President for Membership; Lance Hauer, Vice-President for Communications; and Janice Moore, Vice-President, Collective Bargaining.
Much of the history of APC, as should be evident by now, has been involved in trying to develop unity among the many employee groups within the unit. Solidarity is essential for the successful defense of employee rights and for contractual gains. APC looks forward to continuing to develop that solidarity for its own members and together with the other CSU unions for all university employees.
(Ernie Scosseria, contributor)