A safe place to speak our minds about FUSE operations, whether good or bad, and not risk being made a public target & outcast.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A New Direction

Ok, well, we got some dialog going, which is GREAT! I am glad that I'm not alone in my dissatisfaction with the way the Union has been running things. Some past instances that were not acceptable in our eyes have been pointed out, so now we need to give the new E-Board an idea of how to turn things around. What would we like to see happen this year? I have a few main concerns that I'd like to address.

  • CLASSIFICATION REVIEW: Some got Vance-ified, some did not. Some have gone through re-orgs since. The first round for this new company should be the remaining positions that haven’t been looked at, and then all the positions compared & adjusted accordingly. The Union really needs to push for this to be completed in a timely manner.
  • SALARIES: A very big concern of many is the 5% raise given to an entire department just for a peaceful re-org when only some of the positions changed enough to warrant it. On one hand, it’s not fair to those in the department who were placed with higher level duties if others got the raise, yet it’s not fair to the rest of the classified body who aren’t “lucky enough” to go through a re-org. Hopefully the Review will fix any salary placement discrepancies. Otherwise, perhaps the Union should negotiate a 5% raise for everyone else.
  • BUCKETS: We need to get back the savings we were suppose to see when, a couple years ago, we voted for retirement incentives in lieu of raises, based on the promise that we’d benefit from the savings over the next few years - meaning extra money in OUR bucket for raises and additional positions. The following year, those savings were negotiated away to the District for other things. I have yet to learn what we got in exchange. Had I known this ahead of time, I would have voted against the retirement incentives.
  • DUES: It’s OUR Union. It’s OUR dues money. We should have a say in how it is used. Do we need to be spending $33,000 per year on temporary help when there’s already a Business Manager with full release time? Or $4000 per year on food? (Who’s eating all this food anyway?) What about $10,000 - $20,000 annually for training that they’ve gone through before - New York (Sept. 05) and Hawaii (Oct. 05) just this year so far. Folks, those 3 items alone come to $300 out of each of our pockets every year.
  • COMMUNICATION: 2.5 years to wait for a copy of our contract. Needing to request personal appointments just to review the expenses. 2-3 months to wait for meeting recollections. When was the last Sunshine survey you remember filling out? I think Union communications can be improved.
  • MATCHING THE FACULTY SALARY SCHEDULE: There was talk a few years ago to better match our steps and longevities to the Faculty’s. All that came out of it was moving the 25 year longevity to 24 years, (how many benefited from that?), and then we got a couple 2% steps later on. It was a good start, but it’s time to make our F & G steps the standard 5%, and move the rest of our longevities to the beginning of the 10th, 15th, and 20th years, not at the end, since that’s how the Faculty have them. Let’s finish what we started – we’re no less important.

This is the part where you hit the comments link and share any improvements you’d like to see. We’re all in this together.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to add to your list 'fiscal conservation'. A few examples of how I feel our money is being simply wasted. An office assistant at Range 20, when some of the classified they represent are much lower. That same office assistant simply following the Business Manager around campus or doing nothing more than gossiping, collecting nearly $20 an hour to do so. Trips all over the country for a group of people (seems like one could go and report back). Snacks and lunches for nearly every meeting ! New furniture when the District has a surplus of desks! Paying someones car insurance !

September 22, 2005 8:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

has anyone thought about this. SCFA has probably 3 times the membership of FUSE. They do not have one full time person, let alone 2 !

September 22, 2005 10:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever wondered what the union does work on? I don't mean this as an insult or to imply they aren't doing anything, I simply mean, they keep us in the dark about what they are working on for "us". The meetings they do have and the meeting minutes they publish are so vague that it's difficult to understand how they are representing us. Again, I feel they should be working towards issues we (as a group) think are important. Another pet peeve of mine is that they continue to donate money (OUR MONEY) to causes without any input from the union members. Finally, not related to finances...but I have a big issue with Maggie attending other governance related meetings and speaking on behalf of FUSE or the members. And when she speaks she's rude and condenscending. Her comments are expressed in a manner that implies we are not supposed to ask questions. I have asked myself for quite some time why the business manager doesn't have to perform a Sierra College job yet still needs an office manager. Especially since SCFA is able to represent their employees without this luxury. That isn't fair and it's not equal treatment for all employees.

September 22, 2005 1:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the office assistant at Range 20 is wrong! In view of the material and information the assistant must process, it probably should be a Confidential!!!! And, 'some of the people represented are much lower,' let's see, some of the people are much higher BUT... ALL OF THE PEOPLE ARE REPRESENTED. Maggie does a great and desparately needed job!

Many of the meetings are scheduled during lunch so that the representatives can attend since most have a hard time getting away from their jobs, so lunch is very appropriate. They are giving their time to protect our contract.

In view of the confidential nature of the job, it is unfortunate that you cannot job shadow the assistant to change the warped perception you have of the duties and functions the assistant performs. How did you get your information on what the assistant does, anyway? Following her around? Gossip?

We need our Union, we need our Business Manager to have the time to conduct our business, we need an assistant to handle the operations of the office to provide service to us and to comply with the law. Our fiscal expenditures and dues are in line with other like unions; training is necessary in all areas. We are loosing 30 years of experience, others need to be trained and ready.

And last I heard, SCFA had the equivalent of 2.5 people with release time for their Union business. And don't forget, they do not have a 40 hr/wk accountable time, generally have 6 weeks off in Dec/Jan and 2 months in summer.

Look around at what so many workers across the US are going through right now - without healthcare, without pensions, without protection of working conditions and try to imagine what your job would be like without a contract, and what it would be like if/when you retired from that job without a contract! Surely you don't think your benefits would be given to you out of the generosity and kindness of the state government?

I am NOT on the e-board, I am NOT a steward, I am NOT in the inner-circle or the outer fringe, I am just a voting, card carrying, hard working member who believes in our union. What I don't like, I try to change through procedure.

September 23, 2005 1:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To that last post, you act as if these people want NO union, when what I'm getting from them is they want IMPROVEMENTS to the union. There are very questionable things that have happened, and it's only right that if some are unhappy about them, that they speak out. We all have opinions and should be able to come to some type of consensus, but it's impossible when you aren't told half the stuff or don't feel comfortable disagreeing face to face at a meeting. For example, the temp position. If someone has a problem with her range or attitude, who wants to say something about it at a CLASSIFIED UNION meeting when she's sitting right there?

As to her duties, I thought that’s why we had the Business Manager in there to be sure we are compliant. I’m also not comfortable that a temp has confidential information about me. What is the official procedure to re-think the temp position duties? Maybe it should go out to a vote.

The defensive and threatening tone in your message is the exact reason many are uncomfortable to speak out at a meeting. They’re attacked just for disagreeing with the e-board. The main thing I'm getting from all these posts is that we want more accountability from the e-board and we don't want to be in the dark. We want more say as to the decisions they make, since their decisions affect us. Why is that such a bad thing?

September 23, 2005 2:30 PM

Blogger safetyissues said...

I have been requesting help about a district safety issue for years. I have dealt with at least two presidents, vp’s, shop stewards and the business manager. I have been requested to provide information on several occasions and to this day have not received a response. Not an adequate response, but any response beyond “This is an issue we have been working on for years”. Or the one I liked better “this is a management issue, you should get your manager to request it”, this from an elected e-board member. If the district was willing to listen to its managers this would not be a 30 year issue.

I have been a union member for 20 plus years. I have worked for several school districts and other governmental agencies and this is the least representative organization I have ever tried to work with. Unions can be a benefit to its members, until the union it self becomes the members primary problem.

September 23, 2005 3:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see, you can have your opinion, but mine is 'defensive and threatening?' If stating a point of disagreement is defensive, then it qualifies. And, defensive or defense is not a bad thing. But, "threatening?" No way. Stick to the points and make yours. We all deserve to be heard.

September 23, 2005 3:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You told me to make my point - well I made several in my last comment, so I won't take up more space doing it again, and I'm sorry if you missed them. It's an admirable trait to defend something you beleive in - however it's very off-putting when the Union gets extremely defensive after DUES PAYING UNION MEMBERS disagree about their actions and decisions. We do all deserve to be heard, and we want more accountability, and it makes you wonder why these people get so defensive about it.

September 23, 2005 5:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused about the post about, "What I don't like, I try to change through procedure." I don't understand any of the procedure involved with this union. I think that may be alot of people's problems. There doesn't seem to be alot of communication about how our union is run and it seems there are a few people calling all the shots. What would be the procedure to let our union know that many of us aren't in support of a temp "office manager"? What would be the procedure to change the unions procedure for spending our dues? What is the procedure for the members to decide if we want a business manager with full release time? Please understand I am not trying to be disrespectful, I'm just trying to understand how things work. Over the last year it really seems to me that there aren't any procedures for anything. There is no accountability, no checks and balances and when questions are asked, people get really mad. I read someone's post that this is the last year of the current E-Boards term. Maybe we all need to rethink how we want OUR union to be organized and how we want it to be governed, etc. Change is not a bad thing, it happens whether we want it to or not. If we are proactive about planning for change, there will be less problems.

September 25, 2005 4:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unions can only thrive where they are allowed to grow. Look at the AFL-CIO's recent troubles and defections. I've heard that Liuna has been trying to get Fuse to accept new (non-Sierra) members for a while now, but our local is resisting. Why? Because then the union would have to serve a wider range of interests, and the e-board would be accountable to a larger number of people. The poster who commented about lack of accountability hit the nail on the head.

September 26, 2005 8:22 AM

Anonymous speakingmymind said...

its funny how the pro-FUSE comment here says, EVERYONE IS REPRESENTED. I am NOT represented. The issues that the E-Board are working on, are on of my interest. I have never been asked what I would like my union to fight for. Every 'package' I have been presented has been filled with either retirement incentives or additions to the end of the salary steps - were only 'old-timers' like most of the E-Board benefit immediately. Not to mention the fact that they fight so strongly for some of their inner-circle, but those who dare not agree with their every-word get our concerns put on a waiting list...

And I am sorry, but if you are not E-Board or inner-circle, outer edge then how do you know what the office assistant does anymore than the other anonymous post ?

September 27, 2005 1:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see how anyone in this union could agree with it's practices. I don't feel as though the union protects my job or my benefits. The person that posted in agreement of the unions practices is either misled, is Sherry, or is Maggie. Shocking! Bottom line to me is that this union takes our money and spends it to no benefit to us. We need a lot of change. How do we start?

September 27, 2005 1:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this Eboard represents me, my interest or benefits either. You're right...every package benefits the Eboard and those employees who are about ready to retire. That's why those close to retiring get so angry when we all question the union's practices. Shari negotiated herself a sweet salary increase for a position she hadn't worked in for years. IIT couldn't replace her position because "technically" it was still hers and her salary was being paid out of IIT. How fair is that? The rest of the IIT staff (specifically Paul and the microlans) have to work extra hard to make up the work that she should be doing in her position. Don't get me started. Furthermore, whoever posted about the Eboard representing their croonies in their "inner cirle" is right on. Take a look at the employees that the Eboard has represented over just the last year. Most of these people are, for lack of a better term, the problem employees. They are getting special deals worked out for them that no other classifieds are getting. I don't know how legal it is to create special positions for people who can't cut it in the job they were hired to do. That is NOT fair and it's probably not legal. The people that are truely being treated unfairly by the District don't ever seem to be represented. I know for a fact I'm not the only one who feels that way. We need a change and SOON.

September 28, 2005 8:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to know about the upcoming Hawaii trip. Who all is going, (is Shari & Maggie going to this one too?), and what exactly are they going to be learning there? All 3 board members approved to go in the 8/30 Exec Council recollections have been to MANY previous trainings and conventions - are they going to be learning anything new here or is this just a free vacation on the dues-payers' dime? And last, how much is this costing us?

September 28, 2005 3:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason the E-Board gets defensive when certain things are said to them is that there has ALWAYS been an "open door" policy for all members. They can't read your minds. Is it fair to complain that they're doing things you don't like when you haven't even told them what you DO want? How many of you who are complaining here have attended an E-Board meeting lately? If your job doesn't allow you to attend the meetings, how many of you have called up an E-Board member and let them know what's on your mind? Or sent them an email? Or even an anonymous note, if it's too scary for you to say something to their faces?

And, no, I'm not a member of the E-Board and I don't even play one on TV. (haha) But I've brought up several issues to the members of the E-Board and, whether they agreed with me or not, they were appreciative that I bothered to say something.

The Union is YOU and ME, not "them."

Everybody has ideas that deserve to be considered, and every member's input is important. Why is it that every time there is an E-Board election, we get a white ballot (in other words, there is no competition for any of the offices). One candidate for each opening, period. No one else volunteers. And then everyone who was goofy enough to actually think they could help make a difference by stepping up to the plate gets trashed by all the people who stand in the shadows.

Yep, there's something screwy about this Union all right, but I'm not convinced it's all on the E-Board.

September 29, 2005 9:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem has been that the E-Board has a history of making decisions without informing us and then we find out later. What were we suppose to do, call them up in New York and say, "no, we don't approve, please come back, and by the way, get a refund for the plane tickets so you can credit the dues account."? Right after the Orange Petition incident, there was a group of people wanting change who started attending the weekly E-Board meetings and they were made to feel very UNwelcome. Also, all of the issues that were causing problems were condensed into a list and given to the E-Board. So please don't tell me that no one ever says anything. People HAVE said things but nothing's changed.

About the white ballots - when their own e-board members or negotiators disagree with them, they are kicked out. Why bother running for something when it's their way or the highway?

I hope this newly available negotiation spot is not filled with some blind follower appointed to keep others out, and the E-Board have open minds to pick someone who can bring another perspective to the team.

September 29, 2005 4:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"when their own e-board members or negotiators disagree with them, they are kicked out."

Really? Who was kicked out because they disagreed? I'm not trying to be snotty, I really want to know. That would be good information for us to have.

"Right after the Orange Petition incident, there was a group of people wanting change who started attending the weekly E-Board meetings and they were made to feel very UNwelcome."

Perhaps that's true, I don't know, since I wasn't there. But is it possible that the E-Board was still feeling some discomfort about the whole orange petition situation and that translated to an uncomfortable feeling in the room? Not that they didn't want to hear another perspective, just simply that it was difficult. I'd much rather assume that they were trying very hard to hear what other people had to say, even if it was uncomfortable.

See, the thing I'm seeing in a lot of these comments is something that really distresses me. Contrary to what appears to be popular belief around this blog, people don't become members of the E-Board so they can screw over other members. With rare exceptions, they become members of the E-Board because they think they might be able to do something good for their brothers and sisters. So why is it that when they do something we don't agree with, we jump on them as if their motivation was somehow suspect? Can't we ever assume the best instead of the worst about people? Especially our union brothers and sisters?

I don't know about you, but when something's really important to me, I have to be a whole lot more than "unwelcome" at a couple of meetings before I'll give up on it. So if people attended E-Board meetings because they wanted change but then quit trying because they felt "unwelcome," maybe the changes they wanted weren't all that important to begin with. Please understand, I'm not saying that's the case, but I can only speak from my own perspective, and it's hard for me to understand why someone would back down from something they thought was really important if all they felt was "unwelcome."

September 30, 2005 12:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regard to the previous post "With rare exceptions, they become members of the E-Board because they think they might be able to do something good for their brothers and sisters. So why is it that when they do something we don't agree with, we jump on them as if their motivation was somehow suspect?,,,If you honestly think that is the truth of the matter, maybe you can explain to alot of us why they get so definisive and angry when we ask questions about what types of things they are representing us on? How come we have to schedule a private meeting to review the budget? How come they don't communicate with us? Please...they were elected to represent us and our interests and report this information back to us. We shouldn't have to ask for a timely report of what is happening. There are some staff that come to Sierra to do their job. (novel concept, I know) They don't want to be involved in all the politics and crap, but they would like to know the information that is relevant to their jobs, etc, Also, considering the fact that we are dues paying members, not just some random people...when did it become acceptable to hide information from members? Obviously others don't think this is ok. I may be one of the few, but I have asked questions and I have given my opinion on a number of items and all I've ever received is grief. I don't feel like these are my "brothers and sisters" we are coworkers, we have a job to do and so do they. You have to be accountable in your Sierra College job...being a FUSE officer should be no different.

September 30, 2005 1:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone say they shouldn't be accountable? I know _I_ didn't say that. What I said was that it bothers me that we jump to negative conclusions about their motivations.

The treasurer is a Sierra College employee who has her own job to do, just like the rest of us. Why is it so difficult to understand why we'd need to schedule an appointment to see the financial reports? It seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Interestingly enough, I feel as though the E-Board communicates with me just fine. Maybe it's because when I ask a question I don't do so with the presupposition that they've done something wrong. And again, if they disagreed with me, they took the time to explain why, and listened when I gave my opinion.

I don't think anybody's hiding anything (except that which must be kept to closed session to protect members' privacy). If you ask, they answer. And they schedule quarterly meetings and Brown Bags in between so they CAN report out to the membership on what's going on, as well as find out what people want to know about.

With 200+ members of this local, there can be 200+ different subjects people want to know about. Are they supposed to read your mind? Are they supposed to report out every conversation they have in an E-Board meeting, every time they spend $10? Where's OUR accountability in that?

I'll echo an earlier post - you and I are the union, not some detached entity called the E-Board. It's MY union and MY responsibility, and the E-Board is there for ME. If I don't like what they are doing, I don't sit back in the shadows and whine, I say something.

--I don't feel like these are my "brothers and sisters" we are coworkers, we have a job to do and so do they.--

I'm sad to read this statement. It's the basis of unionism that we are all in this together, like a family, and like a family we stay together even if we disagree (except in the most extreme cases). Many have died for the cause of unionism, and this spirit of brother- and sisterhood is the reason they did so. It's too bad some people don't feel that way, because there is great strength in that kind of unity.

September 30, 2005 3:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to that I completely agree. However, as many have stated THIS particular union does not represent us all. Why do you assume that when I ask questions it's with presuppostion that I've done something wrong? I have NEVER asked questions in a rude, disrespectful way. Further, I'm not whining. You can rest assured that I am one of the most vocal people on this campus. But in this particular forum, I chose to remain anonymous, because I'm tired of 2 particular Eboard members retribution towards me when I do ask questions or point out issues that seem questionable. You may not believe that happens, but unfortunately it does. And that makes me sad. That I work at a place that I HAVE to pay into a union that doesn't treat me fairly.

I'm not going to argue. I'm simply stating facts of real events that have occured. The Eboard of this union doesn't get to just tell all of us that "this is just the way it's going to be" Your statement "Why is it so difficult to understand why we'd need to schedule an appointment to see the financial reports?" is one of the EXACT reasons there needs to be change. It's difficult to understand because no one has given us a reason why we HAVE to schedule an appointment. Why does the treasurer have to sit with us to view OUR unions books? Remember, if we are all brothers and sisters, let's not forget that this is OUR union - not theirs.

September 30, 2005 5:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The posting above that talks about the Union donating dues money to different causes without our concent - well, there is a proposition (Prop 75) in this upcoming State election that, if passed, will require Unions to get membership approval before donating dues money to political causes. I suggest everyone read up on that and cast your vote!

October 01, 2005 5:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

--I have NEVER asked questions in a rude, disrespectful way.--

OK, I apologize for my assumption then. I have heard questions asked in such a way before, but it was unfair of me to assume that you were one of the people who did so. My bad.

--Why does the treasurer have to sit with us to view OUR unions books?--

So that if we have questions, they can be answered.

--Remember, if we are all brothers and sisters, let's not forget that this is OUR union - not theirs.

Precisely what I've been saying.

October 03, 2005 11:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who wrote: " They are getting special deals worked out for them that no other classifieds are getting." and would you please explain? I want to know what someone is getting that I am not because I will fight against that!

October 04, 2005 11:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who wrote: " They are getting special deals worked out for them that no other classifieds are getting." and would you please explain? I want to know what someone is getting that I am not because I will fight against that!

October 04, 2005 11:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, this is a 'double post' in case most are not able to monitor all the blogs:

Whoever said the benefits we receive are 'standard' fare apparently doesn't keep up with the news: "The ranks of those (in the US) without health insurance grew from 41.2 million in 2001 to over 45 million in 2005"

And, how about: "US poverty increased as real wages stagnated and more Americans lost health insurance between 2003 and 2004, according to Census data released August 30. For the fourth consecutive year, the poverty rate has risen. In 2000 31.6 million people, 11.3 percent of the population, lived at or below the federal poverty threshold. (see: http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/05poverty.shtml for the figures) Last year 37 million Americans, 12.7 percent, fell into this category." Is the cost of living in California really high and do we need to continue fighting for increased wages? Absolutely and I can't believe you think your Union is satisfied with no raises. But look what the state government is doing to the budget and blaming us state workers for all the budget woes. Hard to get a raise in that atmosphere.

And not all the increases in pay come at the end of careers - if you have been at Sierra for 3 years, you should have received a step increase the last 2 years? Don't you think that was negotiated for everyone at one point?

And the 'parity increase' received last year after a bitter 6 month fight with the District to bring classified up to the same package as given to faculty - I recall that was given to ALL classified.

In the recent SCFA letter it was stated that negotiations are underway to increase the medical benefits CAP. That usually means we ALL benefit.

Can there be improvements in communications? Absolutely! Also, I cannot criticize the Union for not representing you when you - all of you - are so general in your statements. "The union doesn't represent me" tells me nothing- so I assume when we all receive a benefit that the Union represents everyone. I'd be happy to vote against them or speak of an injustice but can't if I don't know about it.

And, for those who say, "I don't want to get involved in all the politics and crap ," unfortunately, that is what it is all about. So you let the others get involved, hit them with more crap and then make it really 'politics' by criticizing and acusing them of favortism, etc. and walk away, safe in your defense that it's all politics and crap. Doesn't take a lot of effort on your part!

Change is never easy! It is hard work.

Sierra is a great place to work! Could it be better? Absolutely! So don't stop working to make it better. Because most of what we enjoy is good doesn't mean that we stop trying to improve - conditions and terms for everyone. But just throwing darts at those who are trying to serve isn't going to accomplish that. And, no, I don't pretend to know everything about your job; I have experienced both really good and really bad here, but nothing can be improved without bringing it out in the open.

October 04, 2005 11:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you refuse to buy goods from a corporation that uses its profits to control political outcomes? Prop 75 would control unions yet put no curbs on corporations! You really do have a voice with your union. Find it and use it. You can designate your dues go elsewhere if you don't support the union's political view. Do you boycott the corporation that is supporting causes you don't support?

Prop 75 is NOT the answer.

October 04, 2005 11:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't want to name specific classified employees, because it's not their fault, however, EEO standards call for positions to be posted to all staff and whomever wants to apply, may. There have been several positions, 3 alone in A&R and a few others on campus, where the union and the district have "created" positions for people who either weren't cutting it in their current positions OR weren't qualified to get the job. (i.e. they don't know how to use the computer!) Now I know that certain managers, such as Ms. Davies, are known to blackball people they don't like. But, what if I wanted to apply for that job and it is just being given to someone else without having to interview, etc. That isn't fair, and I'm not sure if it is legal. I don't know what the answer is to fight this type of injustice by the management, but the current practice is not working.

October 05, 2005 2:31 PM


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