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General Membership Meeting Wednesday March 21, 2018

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Wednesday, March 21, 11:30am
1st Floor Yerba Buena Room

The EA Board asks that all members join us for
a General Membership Meeting.

Lunch will be Provided.

We will hear from the nominees for EA President, provide an update on the Business Consultant contract, present the financial report, and discuss ongoing grievances. The meeting will be webcast to the field offices and for those that will not be able to attend at 375 Beale.  Webcast link is listed below:

Employees Association is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. 

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/4157494979

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AGENDA – EA Board of Directors’ Meeting March 8, 2018

AGENDA – EA Board of Directors’ Meeting

Thursday, March 8, 2018

11:45 pm – 12:45 pm

Redwood Conference Room 5th Floor

                                                                                                                                                           1.       Meeting called to Order (6 board members constitute a quorum).

 2.       Adoption of previous Minutes

Draft minutes of the EA board meeting on February 13, 2018

3.       Classification Study Update

 4.       Personnel Committee Update

a.  Business Agent Contract

b. President nominations

 5.       Grievance Committee Update

6.       Financial Update

Audit   

7.       Public Comments

8.       Adjournment

This meeting will be webcast. To see the webcast, please visit https://zoom.us/j/797447454 at the time of the meeting.

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AGENDA – EA Board of Directors’ Meeting February 13, 2018

AGENDA – EA Board of Directors’ Meeting

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Bay Area Conference Room 6102                                                                                                                                                                                            

 1.       Meeting called to Order (6 board members constitute a quorum).

 2.       Adoption of previous Minutes

    1. Draft minutes of the EA Board meeting on January 11, 2018
    2. Draft minutes of the Special EA Board meeting on January 22, 2018

3.       Conflict Resolution Tools

 4.       Personnel Committee Update

    1. Business Agent Contract
    2. nominations

 5.       Financial Update -- Audit  

6.       Closed Session

    1. Discussion of EA Board Member’s Responsibilities and Conduct

 7.       Adjournment

This meeting will be webcast. To see the webcast, please visit https://zoom.us/j/797447454 at the time of the meeting.

 

 

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EA President Update

The EA Board would like to congratulate Victor Douglas on his promotion to Manager of Rule Development. It is a long overdue promotion for Victor but he will be greatly missed on the Board.

Per the By-Laws, Virginia Lau will be acting President until the General Membership meeting scheduled for March 21, 2018. At that time, we will hold a general membership vote for EA President.  Please send all nominations for EA President to Paul Grazzini, head of the Personnel Committee.  Nominations are open to all members in good standing. 

  

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Bay Area Air Quality Management District Employees’ Association Business Consultant

Business Consultant

 About the Employees’ Association

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District Employees’ Association (Association) is an agency shop that represents about 350 employees of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District).  The Association is the representative body of the employees in the Technical/General and Professional Employees’ representation units for all matters of employer-employee relations.  The Association is a California Domestic Non-profit Corporation. Association members including Association officers are employees of the Air District.  The Association does not have any direct employees. 

 The Position

The Business Consultant (Consultant) represents the interests of the members of the Association and other represented Air District employees. The Consultant primarily handles labor/contract negotiations and grievances but may perform other related duties.

The Consultant is the lead negotiator in labor/contract negotiations.  The Consultant works to protect rights guaranteed under the contract and all matters within the scope of labor relations.  During negotiations, the Consultant takes direction from the Association Meet and Confer Team with oversight from the Association Board of Directors. 

The Consultant is an independent consultant under contract to the Association.  The amount of work will not constitute full-time employment.  The Consultant does not recruit new Association members or collect membership dues.

Meetings are typically held at or near the Air District main office in San Francisco.

Examples of Duties (Primary duties are in BOLD)

  • Acts as the lead negotiator.
  • Acts as a grievance advisor.
  • Represents unit members in grievance proceedings.
  • Represents, the Association, to the Air District Board of Directors, management and representatives, the public, and arbitrators/mediators.
  • Interprets contract language and labor law, in consultation with the Association retained legal advisor.
  • Provides guidance and advises the Association Meet and Confer Team and Association Board of Directors on matters including, but not limited to, labor negotiation strategy.
  • Conducts necessary background research and compiles necessary information relevant to the items under negotiation.
  • Arranges consultation with Association retained legal advisor or other attorneys, when appropriate.
  • Plans and arranges Association meetings, especially with the Association’s legal consultant.
  • Arranges for outside speakers.
  • Provides training to the Association.

Qualifications

Prospective candidates must have labor negotiation experience.  Experience negotiating in the public sector under the Myers-Milias-Brown Act is highly desirable. Experience advising a CA non-profit corporation or knowledge of CA Non-profit Corporation Code is desirable.

Working Conditions

Working hours for the Consultant vary.  Typically, hours are longer and more frequent during contract negotiations.  (The next contract negotiation will begin approximately in February 2019.)  The Consultant is not provided an office.

The Consultant shall be reasonably available for negotiating sessions, meetings and hearings associated with grievances, and occasionally other Association meetings including general membership meetings and Board meetings, if needed.  Communications between the Association and the Consultant will include face-to-face, phone calls, video conferencing, and email.  The Consultant must be reasonably available to attend meetings and return communication in a timely manner. 

Compensation

Hourly rate: Negotiable

Reasonable travel expenses will be compensated as will be outlined in the Business Consultant contract.  The Association encourages the use of public transit.  Routine office expenses and equipment-related expenses incurred by the Consultant shall not be paid by the Association unless otherwise negotiated.

How to Apply

Prospective candidates shall submit the following to the Association by e-mail:

1.      Cover Letter (Section I) – Must include the name, address, and telephone number, and must be signed by the person(s) authorized to represent the firm.

2.      Summary – State overall approach to position, including the objectives and scope of work.

3.      Provide education and training relevant to labor law, labor unions, and/or government organizations and agencies.

4.      Background and Experience – Provide examples of your background and related experience in providing similar services to labor unions and/or governmental organizations, if any. Describe technical capabilities and exposure with working with labor unions, if any. Provide at least three references of other, similar work done/ services provided, including contact name, title, and telephone number for all references listed.

5.      Conflict of Interest – Address possible conflicts of interest with other clients affected by contractors’ actions performed on behalf of the Association. The Association recognizes that prospective bidders may have contracts to perform similar services for other clients. Include a complete list of such clients for the past three (3) years with the type of work performed and the total number of years performing such tasks for each client. The Association reserves the right to consider the nature and extent of such work in evaluating the proposal.

6.      Additional Data – Provide other essential data that may assist in the evaluation of the application.

7.      Compensation – Provide a proposal that consists of the fully-burdened hourly rate.

 

First application review date: TBD

 

Association e-mail:  voice@employeesassociation.org

The position is open until filled. 

                                               

 

Hiring Process

After applications are screened, the top candidates will be contacted to schedule an interview.

 

 

 

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EA Committees

 As we transition to the new board, there are opportunities for members to service on one of the many EA committees.  Please contact the new EA President Victor Douglas by Friday October 13 at 4 pm if you are interested in serving on one of the committees.  Below is a list and description of the current EA Committees.   

Meet and Confer:
The Meet and Confer Committee is comprised of four members and designated alternate for each member.  The purpose of the M&C Committee is to study and make recommendations on working conditions, employee-employer relations and other matters, including but not limited recommendations on wages, benefits, hours and other terms and conditions of employment.

By Laws Committee:
The By-laws Committee is responsible for reviewing the Constitution & By-laws of the Association to determine if changes are needed.    
Personnel Committee:
The Personnel Committee was created with the task of looking for a third-party lead negotiator.     

Grievance Committee:
The Grievance Committee investigates potential membership grievances to determine validity and response of the grievance allegations.  The Grievance Committee's primary task is to ensure compliance with the MOU.  

Finance Committee:
 The Finance Committee oversees and conducts audits of Board activity.

Social Committee:
The Social Committee is responsible for putting together all our social EA activities.  The Social Committee works closely with the Air District in planning the summer picnic and children's holiday party.  The Social Committee also evaluates suggestions from members for social events or ideas. 

 Archive Committee:
 The Archive Committee is responsible for maintaining and documenting the history of the EA.  In addition, the archive committee has also taken the role of maintaining EA surplus and supplies from various EA activities.

Nominating Committee:
The Nominating Committee solicits nominations and prepares a slate of consenting candidates for each office who are subject to election by membership.  The Nominating Committee shall receive all announcements of candidates and nominations from membership and submit the complete listing of candidates and their qualifications to the EA Board of Directors for approval.  This committee is chaired by the past president and probably won't reconvene until early 2019.  

A Voice
The EA Voice Committee is responsible for the publication of this newsletter.   

Website
The EA Website Committee maintains and updates the EA's website. 

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2017-1019 EA Board Election Results

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017-1019 EA Board election.

  • President: Victor Douglas
  • Vice President: Virginia Lau
  • Corresponding Secretary: Mark Tang
  • Recording Secretary: Simrun Dhoot
  • Treasurer: Areana Flores
  • Steward, Clerical: Brittany McIntosh
  • Steward, Inspection: Chris Coelho and Linda Duca
  • Steward, Professional: Tamiko Endow and Snigdha Mehta
  • Steward, Technical (Field): Kimberly Mazza
  • Steward, Technical (In-House): Robert Cave

The new board takes office effective October 1, 2017. We look forward to transitioning leadership over the next few weeks. Thank you to everybody who participated in this process.

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Updated Election Information

Dear members, several candidate changes and statements were submitted since the publication of the EA Voice.  As such, we are providing you the following information with a reminder that the vote will close on September 14 at 4:00pm.

 

The following members are running for the positions below:

 

President
Victor Douglas
Ruby World

Vice President
Virginia Lau
Rochelle Reed
Irma Salinas

Treasurer
Areana Flores
Brittany McIntosh
Marc Nash

Recording Secretary
Tina Landis
Simrun Dhoot

Corresponding Secretary 
David Fairly
Mark Tang

Technical Steward
In-house
Robert Cave
Marc Nash
Field
Kimberly Mazza

Professional Stewards (2 positions)
Tamiko Endow
Snigdha Mehta

Chad White

Inspection Stewards (2 positions)
Joy Chen
Chris Coelho

Linda Duca

Eric Lara

Clerical Steward
Brittany McIntosh

 

 


Candidate Statements
Victor Douglas: Candidate Statement for EA President
 I’ve been working for the Air District for almost 16 years, starting in Enforcement, but primarily in Rule Development.  I arrived at the tail end of what I’ve termed “The Troubles”; a time when the EA member had been working without a contract for over three years.  Before coming to the Air District, I worked at the Air Resources Board for 13 year.  So, I’ve had the opportunity to compare labor relations between the two agencies and there’s a world of difference.  The one that stands out most distinctly is that most employees at the ARB were represented by organized labor unions and we are not.  I believe that difference is crucial, but not necessarily limiting.  One of the skills I bring is a strong relationship to both management and the executives.  Being in Rule Development, I understand how the executives manage the Board of Directors to achieve the goals of the executives.  So, when they say, “I have to convince the Board,” we must take that with a huge grain of salt because the Board trusts the executives to advise them accordingly.
 
I would like to see the EA members prosper as much as possible.  I also believe that the currently management has an opposing view – to chronically and incrementally erode the gains the EA made following the resolution of “The Troubles.”  During the economic downturn of the last decade we were asked to “tighten our belts” and that the pain of those times would be “shared by all.”  Nice sentiments, but far from reality.  Since the downturn, we have seen the management and executive sector balloon but in numbers and compensation while the EA members have had never income gains and decrease in benefits.  This is not the fault of the EA, but of both changes in State law and a result of the “tightening of our belts” and sharing the pain attitudes of management.  A similar approach was made on the State level – but since the economy has improve, most the sacrifices the rank and file state employees have made as a result of the recession have been made up in major salary increases and the removal of furloughs.  I’d like to see that happen here at the Air District.  I would also like to see limits on the numbers of contract and temporary employees the Air District can hire.  Most of the work these people are doing can be done by EA members.  I’d also like the Air District to acknowledge Air District staff tenure here when they compete with outside candidates—working at the Air District provides institutional knowledge that outsider cannot possibly possess and, when all things being equal, makes an Air District employee a much better candidate for promotion. 
 
There are many other areas I’d like see improved here and working closely with the EA Board of Directors, the Meet and Confer Team and interacting with the EA membership and maintaining and improving relationships with management and the executives, I believe we can achieve those goals and prosper.

Ruby World: Candidate Statement for EA President
Let me get straight to the point:

It is my opinion that the governing body of our union has devolved into an adversary of the membership instead of a contender toward management. This is the outcome of a few long-term members consolidating into an elite decision-making group, often treating membership participation and disclosure as a formality. This is a predictable situation within organizations; often it is the result of well-meaning but overwhelmed volunteers. It is not enough to change the faces of the Board of Directors, as novices need mentorship and guidance. It is not enough to “fire/hire” someone; we cannot expect to find a labor expert Mary Poppins to fix our shortcomings. A labor union of our size needs to move forward toward functioning as a formal entity to serve the needs of the entire membership, absent of personal opinions, preferences and prejudices. It’s time for the Employees’ Association to be accountable to the membership. It’s time for the membership to expect more from its union.

Should I become the next President, there are several core changes to union operations that the membership should expect. First, no more informal meetings with management by union officers. Second, the membership can expect routine updates about all union activities, including informative agendas and detailed minutes. Members will be provided with the opportunity to communicate with the Board with anonymity allowed. Third, all labor-related consultants will undergo review and approval by the membership. Fourth, restrictions toward entering into confidentiality agreements and similar activities.

As President, I want to facilitate the empowerment of the entire membership to be active participants in the decisions that affect them; especially our field members. As a three-term Board member and Meet & Confer representative - as well as the former EA Voice editor and the union Archivist - I have the experience to benefit the membership with continuity. However, it is my education and prior work experience in team leadership and managerial positions that will qualify me to bring forth the needed organization changes to make our union strong and successful for the next contract negotiation.  


Virginia Lau: Candidate Statement for EA Vice
President
I currently work in the Emission Inventory and Exposure Assessment Section of the Planning and Climate Change Division as an Advanced Projects Advisor. I previously served on the EA Board as a Professional Steward and also volunteered on the Grievance Committee.

Irma Salinas: Candidate Statement for EA Vice
President
My name is Irma Salinas and I am interested in running for Vice President.  I am from southern California.  One of my hobbies and passions is real estate and watching the shows on home improvements and remodeling.   Family is important to me and making sure that my family has the best possible care at a reasonable out of pocket expense is a concern of mine.  I am interested in making sure that the health benefits package is improved.  I have worked at the District for over 25 years and believe in the District’s mission to “create a healthy breathing environment for every Bay Area resident while protecting and improving public health, air quality and the global climate”, and look forward to where the District will be in the future.   I am a principal engineer and I work in the Engineering Division.  During this period, I have been active with the EA in various capacities including Meet and Confer Committee, and I was the Recording Secretary.  I hope to bring new ideas and concepts along with the dedication to make our workplace a more cohesive and enjoyable experience and ensure that the employee’s needs are addressed by collaboration, dedication and providing leadership and excellence.  Thank you for your consideration.

Areana Flores: Candidate Statement for Treasurer
In my 13+ years of work experience in various fields, 7 of which were in retail banking, I have learned to communicate, adapt, coordinate, and work with others of diverse backgrounds, providing me an insight to people's needs and expectations. This has truly given me a perspective on what it means to be mindful and how others can help spark creativity and innovation within you. I want to continue learning and being part of the EA board aligns well with my passion for growth and interest in creating impact long term. Thanks!
 

Robert Cave: Candidate Statement for In-House Technical Steward
I have worked for the District for over 25 years.  2 ½ years as a Limited Term Employee, 15 years in Engineering, and 10 in Rule Development.  I have been served the EA as a professional steward, technical steward, and member of the meet and confer team for over 10 years, and served as the chair of the negotiating team for the last 5 years.

I believe that change is good in respect to the EA leadership.  Serving on the board or on a committee can be exhausting, so it is good to spread the work around.  Furthermore, it is good to have a variety or voices, so that it the EA leadership represents and serves the needs of the entire membership.  I also believe in the value of continuity, so I look forward to serving in a reduced capacity to ensure that the EA continues to serve the needs of its members.  Whether this be as a Technical Steward (should I be elected), or as a member of the meet and confer or another committee (should I be chosen by EA leadership).

 

Marc Nash: Candidate Statement for Treasurer/Technical Steward
My name is Marc Nash and I am interested in running for Treasurer/Technical Steward.  I am from the Great Lakes area (Chicago), and I am First Nation, Native American, and an enrolled tribal member.  As far back as I can remember, I have always been actively involved in making the environment a better place to live. Like you, I am fortunate to be part of our organization and truly believe in our mission to protect the Public.  I came out to California from the Midwest to go to school at UC Berkeley, where I majored in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  These days, I work in the Toxics Evaluation Group of the Permitting /Title V/Toxics Section of the Engineering Division.  I have worked on a variety of engineering projects, but my current assignment deals primarily with permitting engines.  I have been employed by the District for 27 years, and I look forward to taking a more active part in our organization.  I am asking for your vote, and your support so that I can address the needs of our association and further support you and our work environment.  I am currently on the EA bylaws committee, and following the advice given to us by all previous EA board members, to get involved and make a positive difference, I would like to be more involved.  Likewise, I always advise everyone to exercise their right to vote, to have a voice and to make a difference at all levels of their lives.  I ask for all EA members to please vote and when you do, I hope that I can persuade you to vote for me! Let’s move forward together!

Tina Landis: Candidate Statement for Recording Secretary
I have extensive experience serving on elected leadership bodies for social advocacy organizations over the past 15 years. During that time, I played a support role working with many local unions on various union campaigns. I have served two terms as Corresponding Secretary for the EA and would like to continue to serve the membership as Recording Secretary. One of the high points of getting a job at the District a little over 5 years ago was to find out there was a union! I am a strong advocate for unions and understand that we are all stronger and all benefit when we work together to stand up for each other’s rights within our workplace and society in general.

Simrun Dhoot: Candidate Statement for Recording Secretary
I am an Air Quality Engineer in the Engineering Division and have been an employee at the Air District since 2009. I am running to bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the EA Board. I am committed to ensuring that the voices and concerns of the EA membership are heard and addressed. I believe in the ideals of a union and vow to use this position to ensure that every member is properly represented. If elected, I will bring professionalism and transparency to this role. Thank you for your consideration. I hope to have your support!

Mark Tang: Candidate Statement for Corresponding Secretary
I’ve been with the Air District since 2007, working in the Engineering Division and now the Strategic Incentives Division. I’ve also previously held a board position at a non-profit organization as Member-at-Large and will bring this expertise to my role as the EA’s Corresponding Secretary. I value and understand the importance of transparency and communication and will ensure the EA Board continues to do so.  Over the years, I’ve witnessed the various concerns expressed by membership. Whether it’s health and retirement benefits, COLA, or promotional opportunities and hiring, I will work towards maintaining and improving our work life. Please feel free to stop by my desk or contact me via email if you have any questions. I hope I can count on your support!

Snigdha Mehta: Candidate Statement for Professional Steward/Treasure
I joined the Air District’s Engineering Division as Air Quality Engineer over two years ago after working for over seven years in a highly competitive and stressful private sector. The main reason I accepted this job at the Air District was that it is a “union job”. Coming from the private sector, where there is no support, I understand the importance of and value a strong, undivided union.  As a bridge between the EA members and the Board, I will try to foster a more open, communicative, and collaborative environment to properly represent the interests and address the concerns of the members and to bring accountability and transparency to the Board. I hope you will give me an opportunity to serve you and further strengthen this union. Thank you for your consideration.

Tamiko Endow: Candidate Statement for Professional Steward
I have worked in the Engineering Division at the District for almost 25 years and am running for professional steward.  During my time at the District, I have seen the EA weather and overcome challenging circumstances by standing together.  I believe the EA can best support the interests of its members by fostering open communication and by considering all perspectives.  I would like to focus EA leadership on providing clear and timely information to members and on making decisions which are responsive, collaborative, and transparent.  By representing all members, I believe the union can create a better work environment, and that this can improve the effectiveness of the District in meeting its mission to serve the Bay Area community.

Chad White: Candidate Statement for Professional Steward.

I enjoy working with and getting to know people across the Air District. Although driven in part by personal interest, my deeper reason is to learn how the Air District is functioning as an organization and to work toward assuring a positive work environment and experience for everyone. An EA steward plays an important role in creating a positive workplace by acting as listener, communicator, advocate, and ombudsperson. As a steward for the Professional classes, my goal is to hear, share, and address pain points that people are experiencing both in the micro-environments of their relationships with supervisors and managers and in the macro-environment of our negotiated contract with the agency as a whole. I view this process as bi-directional – both bringing member concerns to the board, and empowering members to understand what their representative are strategizing and doing. I bring to this role not only my capacity as a savvy listener, but also my previous work experience. Before joining the Planning Department a year ago, I was college professor doing research on organizational change and teaching classes in management and social science. Before that I was an environmental consultant.

 

 

Chris Coelho: Candidate Statement for Inspection Steward
I have been involved with the EA most of my career at the Air District.  I served one term as Inspection Steward, Vice-President and currently serving as president.  During this time, I helped revive the social committee, helped create the grievance committee, archive committed (which had the monumental task of electronically scanning and organizing all of the archived hard copy documents before the move), and created and maintain the current EA website.  As president, I've made sure that the EA voice has gone out monthly.  I've helped with resolving 4 grievances and currently working on resolving on two more as well as resolve numerous issues before they became grievances.  I have done a lot for this union and I am very proud of all the work we have accomplished.  However, there is one thing left unfinished and it is a big reason why I want to continue on the EA Board.  I extremely motivated to work with the Air District to bring back the inspector classification study.  While there is no guarantee this will happen, there is a chance.  This study was part of a long term goal that could have resulted in a salary increase for inspection staff.  As your inspection steward, I would have more time to focus on this goal while fulfilling all the other duties as steward.  I am proud of serving this union and I ask for your vote to help me finish what we started.  Thank you.

 

Linda Duca: Candidate Statement for Inspection Steward

I have been working with the Air District for 12 years now, as an Inspector and Senior Inspector.  During that time I have benefitted greatly from the work that the EA has done, and I would like to take this opportunity to do my part in making the EA the successful organization that it is, and to be a conduit from the field to the EA Board and officers for the whole Inspection staff.

 

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EA Voice Special Election Issue

2017 EA Board Nominations and Election

Nominations will close September 7, 2017 after the general membership meeting at 2 pm.  The election will begin September 8 at 9 am and will end September 14 at 4 pm.  The new Board will take office October 1, 2017.  

Currently, the following members are running for the potions below:

President

  • Victor Douglas
  • Ruby World


Vice President

  • Virginia Lau
  • Rochelle Reed
  • Irma Salinas


Treasurer

  • Areana Flores
  • Marc Nash


Recording Secretary

  • Tina Landis
  • Simrun Dhoot


Corresponding Secretary 

  • David Fairly
  • Mark Tang


Technical Steward
In-house

  • Robert Cave
  • Marc Nash

Field

  • Kimberly Mazza


Professional Stewards (2 positions)

  • Tamiko Endow
  • Snigdha Mehta


Inspection Stewards (2 positions)

  • Joy Chen
  • Chris Coelho
  • Linda Duca
  • Eric Lara


Clerical Steward

  • Brittany McIntosh

Candidate Statements

Victor Douglas: Candidate Statement for EA President
 I’ve been working for the Air District for almost 16 years, starting in Enforcement, but primarily in Rule Development.  I arrived at the tail end of what I’ve termed “The Troubles”; a time when the EA member had been working without a contract for over three years.  Before coming to the Air District, I worked at the Air Resources Board for 13 year.  So, I’ve had the opportunity to compare labor relations between the two agencies and there’s a world of difference.  The one that stands out most distinctly is that most employees at the ARB were represented by organized labor unions and we are not.  I believe that difference is crucial, but not necessarily limiting.  One of the skills I bring is a strong relationship to both management and the executives.  Being in Rule Development, I understand how the executives manage the Board of Directors to achieve the goals of the executives.  So, when they say, “I have to convince the Board,” we must take that with a huge grain of salt because the Board trusts the executives to advise them accordingly.
 
I would like to see the EA members prosper as much as possible.  I also believe that the currently management has an opposing view – to chronically and incrementally erode the gains the EA made following the resolution of “The Troubles.”  During the economic downturn of the last decade we were asked to “tighten our belts” and that the pain of those times would be “shared by all.”  Nice sentiments, but far from reality.  Since the downturn, we have seen the management and executive sector balloon but in numbers and compensation while the EA members have had never income gains and decrease in benefits.  This is not the fault of the EA, but of both changes in State law and a result of the “tightening of our belts” and sharing the pain attitudes of management.  A similar approach was made on the State level – but since the economy has improve, most the sacrifices the rank and file state employees have made as a result of the recession have been made up in major salary increases and the removal of furloughs.  I’d like to see that happen here at the Air District.  I would also like to see limits on the numbers of contract and temporary employees the Air District can hire.  Most of the work these people are doing can be done by EA members.  I’d also like the Air District to acknowledge Air District staff tenure here when they compete with outside candidates—working at the Air District provides institutional knowledge that outsider cannot possibly possess and, when all things being equal, makes an Air District employee a much better candidate for promotion. 
 
There are many other areas I’d like see improved here and working closely with the EA Board of Directors, the Meet and Confer Team and interacting with the EA membership and maintaining and improving relationships with management and the executives, I believe we can achieve those goals and prosper.

Ruby World: Candidate Statement for EA President
Let me get straight to the point:

It is my opinion that the governing body of our union has devolved into an adversary of the membership instead of a contender toward management. This is the outcome of a few long-term members consolidating into an elite decision-making group, often treating membership participation and disclosure as a formality. This is a predictable situation within organizations; often it is the result of well-meaning but overwhelmed volunteers. It is not enough to change the faces of the Board of Directors, as novices need mentorship and guidance. It is not enough to “fire/hire” someone; we cannot expect to find a labor expert Mary Poppins to fix our shortcomings. A labor union of our size needs to move forward toward functioning as a formal entity to serve the needs of the entire membership, absent of personal opinions, preferences and prejudices. It’s time for the Employees’ Association to be accountable to the membership. It’s time for the membership to expect more from its union.

Should I become the next President, there are several core changes to union operations that the membership should expect. First, no more informal meetings with management by union officers. Second, the membership can expect routine updates about all union activities, including informative agendas and detailed minutes. Members will be provided with the opportunity to communicate with the Board with anonymity allowed. Third, all labor-related consultants will undergo review and approval by the membership. Fourth, restrictions toward entering into confidentiality agreements and similar activities.

As President, I want to facilitate the empowerment of the entire membership to be active participants in the decisions that affect them; especially our field members. As a three-term Board member and Meet & Confer representative - as well as the former EA Voice editor and the union Archivist - I have the experience to benefit the membership with continuity. However, it is my education and prior work experience in team leadership and managerial positions that will qualify me to bring forth the needed organization changes to make our union strong and successful for the next contract negotiation.  


Virginia Lau: Candidate Statement for EA Vice President
I currently work in the Emission Inventory and Exposure Assessment Section of the Planning and Climate Change Division as an Advanced Projects Advisor. I previously served on the EA Board as a Professional Steward and also volunteered on the Grievance Committee.

Irma Salinas: Candidate Statement for EA Vice President
My name is Irma Salinas and I am interested in running for Vice President.  I am from southern California.  One of my hobbies and passions is real estate and watching the shows on home improvements and remodeling.   Family is important to me and making sure that my family has the best possible care at a reasonable out of pocket expense is a concern of mine.  I am interested in making sure that the health benefits package is improved.  I have worked at the District for over 25 years and believe in the District’s mission to “create a healthy breathing environment for every Bay Area resident while protecting and improving public health, air quality and the global climate”, and look forward to where the District will be in the future.   I am a principal engineer and I work in the Engineering Division.  During this period, I have been active with the EA in various capacities including Meet and Confer Committee, and I was the Recording Secretary.  I hope to bring new ideas and concepts along with the dedication to make our workplace a more cohesive and enjoyable experience and ensure that the employee’s needs are addressed by collaboration, dedication and providing leadership and excellence.  Thank you for your consideration.

Areana Flores: Candidate Statement for Treasurer
In my 13+ years of work experience in various fields, 7 of which were in retail banking, I have learned to communicate, adapt, coordinate, and work with others of diverse backgrounds, providing me an insight to people's needs and expectations. This has truly given me a perspective on what it means to be mindful and how others can help spark creativity and innovation within you. I want to continue learning and being part of the EA board aligns well with my passion for growth and interest in creating impact long term. Thanks!

Robert Cave: Candidate Statement for In-House Technical Steward
I have worked for the District for over 25 years.  2 ½ years as a Limited Term Employee, 15 years in Engineering, and 10 in Rule Development.  I have been served the EA as a professional steward, technical steward, and member of the meet and confer team for over 10 years, and served as the chair of the negotiating team for the last 5 years.

I believe that change is good in respect to the EA leadership.  Serving on the board or on a committee can be exhausting, so it is good to spread the work around.  Furthermore, it is good to have a variety of voices, so that the EA leadership represents and serves the needs of the entire membership.  I also believe in the value of continuity, so I look forward to serving in a reduced capacity to ensure that the EA continues to serve the needs of its members.  Whether this be as technical steward (should I be elected), or as a member of the meet and confer or another committee (should I be chosen by EA leadership).  

Marc Nash: Candidate Statement for Treasurer/Technical Steward.
My name is Marc Nash and I am interested in running for Treasurer/Technical Steward.  I am from the Great Lakes area (Chicago), and I am First Nation, Native American, and an enrolled tribal member.  As far back as I can remember, I have always been actively involved in making the environment a better place to live. Like you, I am fortunate to be part of our organization and truly believe in our mission to protect the Public.  I came out to California from the Midwest to go to school at UC Berkeley, where I majored in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  These days, I work in the Toxics Evaluation Group of the Permitting /Title V/Toxics Section of the Engineering Division.  I have worked on a variety of engineering projects, but my current assignment deals primarily with permitting engines.  I have been employed by the District for 27 years, and I look forward to taking a more active part in our organization.  I am asking for your vote, and your support so that I can address the needs of our association and further support you and our work environment.  I am currently on the EA bylaws committee, and following the advice given to us by all previous EA board members, to get involved and make a positive difference, I would like to be more involved.  Likewise, I always advise everyone to exercise their right to vote, to have a voice and to make a difference at all levels of their lives.  I ask for all EA members to please vote and when you do, I hope that I can persuade you to vote for me! Let’s move forward together!

Tina Landis: Candidate Statement for Recording Secretary
I have extensive experience serving on elected leadership bodies for social advocacy organizations over the past 15 years. During that time, I played a support role working with many local unions on various union campaigns. I have served two terms as Corresponding Secretary for the EA and would like to continue to serve the membership as Recording Secretary. One of the high points of getting a job at the District a little over 5 years ago was to find out there was a union! I am a strong advocate for unions and understand that we are all stronger and all benefit when we work together to stand up for each other’s rights within our workplace and society in general.

Simrun Dhoot: Candidate Statement for Recording Secretary
I am an Air Quality Engineer in the Engineering Division and have been an employee at the Air District since 2009. I am running to bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the EA Board. I am committed to ensuring that the voices and concerns of the EA membership are heard and addressed. I believe in the ideals of a union and vow to use this position to ensure that every member is properly represented. If elected, I will bring professionalism and transparency to this role. Thank you for your consideration. I hope to have your support!

Mark Tang: Candidate Statement for Corresponding Secretary
 I’ve been with the Air District since 2007, working in the Engineering Division and now the Strategic Incentives Division. I’ve also previously held a board position at a non-profit organization as Member-at-Large and will bring this expertise to my role as the EA’s Corresponding Secretary. I value and understand the importance of transparency and communication and will ensure the EA Board continues to do so.  Over the years, I’ve witnessed the various concerns expressed by membership. Whether it’s health and retirement benefits, COLA, or promotional opportunities and hiring, I will work towards maintaining and improving our work life. Please feel free to stop by my desk or contact me via email if you have any questions. I hope I can count on your support!

Snigdha Mehta: Candidate Statement for Professional Steward/Treasure
I joined the Air District’s Engineering Division as Air Quality Engineer over two years ago after working for over seven years in a highly competitive and stressful private sector. The main reason I accepted this job at the Air District was that it is a “union job”. Coming from the private sector, where there is no support, I understand the importance of and value a strong, undivided union.  As a bridge between the EA members and the Board, I will try to foster a more open, communicative, and collaborative environment to properly represent the interests and address the concerns of the members and to bring accountability and transparency to the Board. I hope you will give me an opportunity to serve you and further strengthen this union. Thank you for your consideration.

Tamiko Endow: Candidate Statement for Professional Steward
I have worked in the Engineering Division at the District for almost 25 years and am running for professional steward.  During my time at the District, I have seen the EA weather and overcome challenging circumstances by standing together.  I believe the EA can best support the interests of its members by fostering open communication and by considering all perspectives.  I would like to focus EA leadership on providing clear and timely information to members and on making decisions which are responsive, collaborative, and transparent.  By representing all members, I believe the union can create a better work environment, and that this can improve the effectiveness of the District in meeting its mission to serve the Bay Area community.

Chris Coelho: Candidate Statement for Inspection Steward
I have been involved with the EA most of my career at the Air District.  I served one term as Inspection Steward, Vice-President and currently serving as president.  During this time, I helped revive the social committee, helped create the grievance committee, archive committed (which had the monumental task of electronically scanning and organizing all of the archived hard copy documents before the move), and created and maintain the current EA website.  As president, I've made sure that the EA voice has gone out monthly.  I've helped with resolving 4 grievances and currently working on resolving on two more as well as resolve numerous issues before they became grievances.  I have done a lot for this union and I am very proud of all the work we have accomplished.  However, there is one thing left unfinished and it is a big reason why I want to continue on the EA Board.  I extremely motivated to work with the Air District to bring back the inspector classification study.  While there is no guarantee this will happen, there is a chance.  This study was part of a long term goal that could have resulted in a salary increase for inspection staff.  As your inspection steward, I would have more time to focus on this goal while fulfilling all the other duties as steward.  I am proud of serving this union and I ask for your vote to help me finish what we started.  Thank you.           

EA Board Meeting September 20

The September EA Board will be on Wednesday September 20 at 11:45 am in the Santa Clara Room  Meeting agendas are posted on the EA and the Public Bulletin boards one week prior to the meeting.  This is the last board meeting of the current EA Board.  

Message from the President

Happy Labor Day everyone!

This is a special EA Board election edition of the EA Voice. Candidate statements are listed below.  Our next General Membership meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 7 from 1-2 pm in the Yurba Buena Room.  Please note the time difference compared to previous meetings.  In addition, on September 6, from noon to 1 pm, we will have an informational meeting for field staff at the Richmond Inspector Field Office and simulcast at the Hayward Field Office.  

The purpose of this meeting is to give field staff more time to ask questions.  When simulcasting previous General Membership Meetings to the field offices, we were never able to properly address field staff's questions or concerns and they could not hear the entire meeting.  So we wanted to try a meeting in the field to see if this works better, but the General Membership Meeting is still September 7. 
  
Finally I want to remind everyone there is still time to nominate yourself or someone else for the next EA Board.  Nominations will end September 7 at 2 pm, and the election will take place September 8-14.  See below for a current list of members running.    

It is an honor and a pleasure to serve.   Stay vigilant.

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Summer Picnic 2017

Thank you to everyone that attended this year's summer picnic.  Everyone had a great time as we celebrated as one big Air District family.  More pictures can be found under the "Summer Picnic 2017"  

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2017 EA Election Update!!!

As of 8/2/2017 the members who have been nominated and accepted to serve on the EA Board
are as follows:

As of 8/2/2017 the members who have been nominated and accepted to serve on the EA Board are as follows:

PRESIDENT

Rochelle Reed

Ruby World

VICE PRESIDENT

Victor Douglas

TREASURER

Joseph Driste

Brittany McIntosh

CORRESPONDING SECRETARY

Ruby World

RECORDING SECRETARY

Tina Landis

INSPECTION STEWARD (2 POSITIONS)

Both open

TECHNICAL STEWARD

    In-house

         Robert Cave

         Marc Nash

    Field

         Kimberly Mazza

PROFESSIONAL STEWARD (2 POSITIONS)

Duc Nguyen

CLERICAL STEWARD

Brittany McIntosh

There are other members who have been nominated, however their names will not be posted until they accept the nomination.  As more nominees accept nominations their names will be added to this list.  Members may run for more than one position.  Please check for updates.  

Nominations will be accepted up until the conclusion of the General Membership Meeting preceding the election on September 6, 2017.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Paul Grazzini.

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Air District Board Approves Contract

At today's Air District Board of Directors meeting, the board unanimously approved the proposed contract.  Next step will be for the EA Negotiation team and Air District sign the contract.  This will probably happen very soon.  

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SPECIAL EDITION Contract Vote July 2017

Message from the President

Dear Members,
  
Today the EA Board voted to recommend ratification of the proposed contract.  

I must recognize and thank our Negotiation Committee who have worked very hard on this proposed contract for the last six months.  Our team has put in countless hours (my guess is somewhere over 1,600 hours), and we have come to an agreement with the Air District, by which at the end of this contract term, members may see up to a 7+% salary increase in two years.  Thank you Robert Cave, Tina McRee, Michael Neward, Michael Wall, Ruby World, Derek Klein and Paul Grazzini.  I truly believe we have negotiated the best contract we can get.    

The proposed contract can be found by clicking this link here.  There is also a fringe benefits calculator you can use to calculate your estimated fringe here.  Check our website for more contract information www.ea-voice.org.

I know there are members that disagree with me, and I know that an underground campaign is being waged to reject this proposed contract.  We need to be realistic and I will make this as blunt as I can.  Voting this contract down will not get you a better contract. Voting it down will likely result in the Air District imposing this proposal, in its current version, for one year.  There is nothing the EA can do to change those circumstances.  

If the Air District were to impose a lousy contract (not the proposed, but something worse), given their current fiscal standing, then we could fight the imposition and most likely prevail, but those aren’t the circumstances we are dealing with.  Our Negotiation Team did the best they can with the Air District for the proposed contract.  Lastly, The Air District negotiated the current proposal in good faith. Thus, reaching an impasse and taking the Air District to arbitration is not a desirable option.   

The currently proposed contract is a good contract.  It helps to address an issue regarding the growing inequity of healthcare costs.  The cafeteria style fringe healthcare system is unsustainable and it puts us in a moral dilemma in which some folks are out of pocket up to $1,000 a month while others are fully covered and getting cash back.  The current system is equal in a sense that it provides the same fringe benefits to single employees or employees with dependents.  The system assumes that every employee needs the same amount of money to maintain the same level of health coverage.  This is clearly not the case for employees with one or more dependents.  Let me say that again, some of our members pay over $1,000 out of pocket to maintain the same level of health coverage. The proposed fringe benefit system is the best attempt at this time to promote fairness by providing employees with dependents more help so they can buy the same health care coverage at reduced out of pocket expenses.  

I also urge you to think long term.  The salary increase of 1% on January 1, 2018 will benefit everyone.  Remember, this salary increase is pensionable on top of the COLA increase during the 2 year contract.  In total, each employee will realize over a 7% increase in salary by the end of this contract.  On the other hand, cash back is not a guarantee and it can go away anytime, and the trend among public agencies has been to do away with it. Lastly, we asked our attorney, who reviews several public agency contracts, stated that our proposed contact is "a pretty good deal" given the trend for public agencies to cover less and less of the costs for family medical coverage, and given the trend for public agencies to provide less and less medical coverage for retirees. 

I have also heard feedback from members that the lower income earners will be harmed by this contract.  To really answer that question, you must define what is meant by harmed.  I would classify harm as a reduction in pay or loss of benefits.  In this contract, everyone sees a salary increase and most the staff have their healthcare benefits covered 100%, so how is anyone harmed? 

There is another issue with lower income earners that we are aware of it.  We have been working on this and we ask for your patience because this cannot be achieved in one contract.  In the words of Derek Klein, “Working at the District shouldn’t allow you to qualify for low income housing”.  The EA is working on this and part of this strategy is these classification studies.  It is important that we complete these classification studies especially for the Office Assistant, Accounting Assistant and Secretaries. 

In closing, I would like to state that we have a fiduciary responsibility to work hard to get the best contract for our members.  I believe we have done that and I encourage you to vote "yes" for this contract (and to sign up for the summer picnic, see below).   

Thank you.
— Chris Coelho, EA President
     eapresident2015@gmail.com

Contract Vote July 13-17

Voting for the contract will be done electronically starting Thursday July 13 at 8:30 a.m. and ending Monday July 17 at 4:00 p.m.  Members will be voting to accept or decline the offer.

Members will receive two emails from SimplyVoting.  The first email will have your unique username and password and the second email will be a link to vote.

You will be getting an email sent to your Air District email from SimplyVoting.com.  If you do not get this email on July 13 on 8:30 a.m., please check your junk or your clutter box.  If you still can't find it, then contact your steward.
 
If you will be out of the office during this period, please email eapresident2015@gmail.com so we can arrange to send the voting link to your personal email address.  

The EA Voice

The EA Voice provides a platform for members to express their opinion.  Providing such a platform encourages a robust consideration of the matter at hand.  The opinions expressed are those of the Author and do not represent the opinion of the EA Board members in any sanctioned manner.  

During and shortly after the July 6 EA General Membership Meeting, a small group of EA members distributed an opinion piece to the membership outside the normal channels provided by the EA By-Laws and procedures. Tamiko Endow then posted a similar opinion piece on the EA Bulletin Board outside of normal channels.   EA member Snigdha Mehta subsequently submitted another version of the article (also included in this addition of The Voice) for distribution according to EA By-Laws and procedures.  

The article below, written by former EA President and current Meet and Confer Team member Paul Grazzini, was submitted for distribution according to the EA By-Laws and procedures and provides a counter-argument to the original opinion piece attributing it to Snigdha. 


Counter Argument to Opinion Piece

By Paul Grazzini:

I believe that the opinion piece sent to EA members urging them to vote "no" for the proposed new MOU is riddled with inaccuracies and I feel I must address these problematic statements.  To make sure your vote for the contract is based on accurate information, it is critical that you read this response before you vote on the proposed new MOU!

First of all, Snigdha’s article starts out by stating that since 1999, our contracts (MOU’s) have become progressively weaker over the years. Without defining the term “weaker”, she leaves the reader to infer that the MOU has become less enforceable and has somehow given away rights and benefits. Where has this happened? The facts provided do not substantiate this claim. The only benefit that has truly eroded during the past 17 years, to any significant degree, is the increase in cost for medical benefits to bargaining unit members with 2 or more dependents. Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to the BAAQMD as increases in costs for medical benefits for families has affected virtually all public agencies in the Bay Area. The proposed MOU extension attempts to address this glaring issue in a fair and equitable manner.

Less for Staff, More for Management:

Snighda also proposes that staff accepted benefit cuts as well as pay cuts during bad economic times to avoid lay-offs. The fact of the matter is that nobody lost benefits, and, 65% of bargaining unit members currently receive 100% medical cost coverage. Staff pay was never cut, rather, we might have negotiated a COLA that was below the CPI-W, or, we might have negotiated a COLA cap that was eventually outpaced by CPI-W. However, to flat-out state that staff accepted benefit cuts and pay cuts is not true. While on the topic of benefit cuts for bargaining unit members, Snighda also mentions that management has given itself raises significantly greater than CPI and/ or compensated itself in other ways (1 to 3 weeks of paid time off with the option to cash it out), whereas staff salaries haven't even kept up with inflation. Now that the economy is doing well and management is considering hiring more staff and buying expensive real estate, shouldn't the staff be compensated equitably? What is meant by equitably? How the Air District operates their budget is the BAAQMD Board’s prerogative and well within the scope of their authority. Furthermore, real estate purchases are one-time costs whereas increases in COLA are a financial liability that roll into perpetuity.

COLA with Low Ceiling & Floor with No Catch-Up Provision:

Snighda states that the EA Board has been told (ostensibly by management) that a cap on COLA is required in the MOU because the Executive Officer must be able to defend the contract when proposing it to the District’s Board of Directors. She goes on to state … “How can management defend double digit increases for itself … but cannot defend a COLA equal to CPI, for the staff?” Since 1999, management salaries have increased 65% to 150%, with an average increase of 138% for APCO and Counsel, and average increase of 94% for rest of the management Since 1999, staff salaries have increased by -60%. Increase in CPI over this period was -61 %. The  COLA provisions in our contracts are negotiated. There is no guarantee that COLA will ever automatically match CPI. What is Snigdha’s definition of equitable? It is a common practice for management to have some level of benefits in excess of staff benefits because management are not hourly employees. Also, in lieu of a benefit taken away from them (known as EPMC) several years ago, management was compensated with additional time off in the form of administrative leave equal to the value of the EPMC benefit. Furthermore, management does not earn overtime pay, union members do. Thus, they are compensated differently than union members. For Snigdha to compare the compensation that bargaining unit employees receive to the APCO and Counsel, who are “At Will” employees and negotiate their compensation package directly with the Board of Directors, is inappropriate. They should not be considered as a comparator to compensation for union members.

Snigdha’s article includes several charts and figures that compare relative salary and COLA increases (since 1999) for bargaining unit employees and for management employees. Another chart depicts annual increases in management base salaries for the same period of time. To begin with, the charts are misleading because they include compensation for the Executive Officer (APCO) and Counsel (reasons stated above). Secondly, the increases in management’s salaries are not based purely on COLA increases as the chart would lead you to believe. Salary modifications have been made to management as a result of classification adjustments and for other reasons.

The chart highlighting the dip in the economy states that bargaining unit staff took a pay cut when the Air District was going through tough economic times, yet management was experiencing significant pay increases. The fact of the matter is that union members were never required to take a reduction in pay as a result of contract negotiations. While the COLA may have fallen behind CPI-W from time to time, that is not the same as a reduction in pay. During the 2012 - 2014 time-frame, the union negotiated a contract that resulted in a COLA that was less than CPI-W for that period. The total cumulative difference for that time-period noted was 1%. The average management increase listed in this graph combines APCO, Counsel, and Management salaries, and, as previously indicated, includes salary increases due to management restructuring as well as COLA. Please note that while COLA increases for bargaining unit members are taken into consideration in the charts, reclassifications and subsequent salary adjustments for union staff have not been considered. The union successfully negotiated several classification changes in the last few years; each of which has resulted in a salary increase for the staff affected. Two examples include upgrades from Supervising Inspector to Supervising AQ Specialist, and Administrative Analyst to Staff Specialist. The bottom line is that the set of compensation data used for management do not include the same set of compensation data used for bargaining unit staff. Furthermore, it should also be noted that the DEO, or Deputy Executive Officer position, did not exist prior to 2015; prior to that year the position was a DAPCO, and thus accounts for the 27.8% increase in pay for her upgraded position.

Fringe Benefit Allowance: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul:

Regarding the statement that the Air District saves approximately $1 Million/year in unused FBA. That is not how FBA money is accounted for. There is no separate account for the FBA, and monies unused do not get rolled over. In other words, there is no savings as money not budgeted for staff salaries and benefits will be used to pay something else (unfunded liabilities and pension funds as an example). The FBA budget is equal to exactly what is estimated to be used by employees. There is no money left over from unused FBA benefits.

Snigdha’s article stated that the new contract would do away with the cash back provision and replace it with a one-time raise of 1 % in the base salary on Jan 1, 2018 and a one-time additional difference of ($ 1200 - 1 % of base salary). There is no make-up provision in the following years (2019+ ). That is correct; that is why it is a “one-time” cash payout. However, the 1% is pensionable, the cashback never has been pensionable. The article also states that lower salaried members receiving cash-back, who have seen no increase in benefits in 14 years will, see a reduction in benefits due to this change. Everyone will gain 1% in salary, cash back recipients get an additional amount of money; lower salaried members receiving cash back already have the benefit of 100% coverage, the cash back is not a function of salary and can go away for any number of reasons; you don’t get the cash back in retirement; and converting it to a salary bump, even if only 1%, makes it pensionable. Lower salaried members have not seen a loss of benefits to the extent that families have. At one time, there was at least one plan that a member could choose that was 100% covered for families. Now there is no family plan where the member is not paying an out-of-pocket cost. As time goes on, more and more plans under the Employee +1 category are falling below the FBA cap. 

The article makes several assertions regarding who stands to gain versus who stands to lose from the deletion of the cash back provision. The bottom line is, at the end of the term of this proposed contract, every employee will be making more than they do now. Possibly up to as much as 7.2+ % more. How is there a loss? How is this a bad contract? Again the cash back is not a function of salary and there are multiple factors (child born, spouse loses job, increases in health insurance costs etc.) that could affect that money.  Another way of putting it: the cash back amount is not guaranteed and a 1% raise is. The real value of the 1% is that it becomes a guaranteed part of your salary that you will receive in retirement.  “The value of that 1% compounds from the day you get it until the day you die; even in retirement”. 

Regarding the article’s comments on FBA caps, using Kaiser as the baseline, and anticipated out of pocket expenses increasing for those with dependents on their medical plan: 48% of members are currently enrolled in Kaiser; 59% of members are enrolled in Kaiser or a cheaper plan. Based on that information, the Air District is pretty well justified in using Kaiser as a baseline, not to mention that Kaiser has the most stable rate over the last 20 years. Under the existing contract, members with one dependent will see a reduction in their cash back benefit as the FBA increase will not match the increase in health care plan costs. Under the proposed cost share plan for the new contract, members with one dependent and paying out of pocket, will see their out of pocket costs significantly reduced. Going forward, as health care costs rise, the people in this category will see an overall savings and have less out-of-pocket costs. The opinion piece states that members with two dependents on Kaiser or a more expensive plan may have to pay even more out-of-pocket, and that single members not currently out of pocket will be forced to switch to Kaiser or pay out-of­-pocket, as health insurance costs rise. These are blatantly false assertions! Members in this category will see a $229 reduction in out-of-pocket costs plus a 1% salary increase that will further offset future health care increases. Single members employed prior to 7/1/17 will still be fully covered under the $1763 cap; this cap is currently 78% higher than the highest cost plan in that category.  Given the average 6% inflation rate this cost will not be exceeded until 2023 and well beyond the scope of this contract.  New employees will be subject to the new cost-share plan, but this is consistent with other public agencies and still offers them a plan or plans where they are 100% covered.

The context of the pie chart that breaks down the % of bargaining unit employees with out of pocket expenses, receiving cash back, etc. is unclear.  If an Air District Board member were to look at it, this pie chart would seem to indicate that 65% of bargaining unit members have 100% of their health benefits covered and receive cash back.  This hardly makes a case to convince the Air District Board to increase the medical benefit allowance for anyone. Additionally, the pie chart fails to represent the degree to which bargaining unit employees are out of pocket for medical coverage. Fortunately, the EA Meet & Confer Team as well as the EA Board recognize that this issue of disparity cannot be broken down quite this simplistically.

The image with the comparison of Peter versus Paul paints an incomplete picture of how the situation for either party actually pans out. First and foremost, it implies that Paul gets paid an extra $540.00; however, this money never gets deposited into Paul’s bank account. Rather, it goes straight to the medical insurance company. The only time Paul sees any of the value of that benefit is when he takes a day off work to take his sick child to the doctor. Also, in addition to the FBA benefit that Paul receives, he has $324 taken out of his paycheck every month to cover the remaining cost of the health insurance (this figure includes Vision and Dental). Accounting for this out-of-pocket expense, Paul’s Net Income is $7,676. Peter doesn’t have to worry about any of that. Peter effectively has a net income of $324 more than Paul. What Peter does with that money is none of Paul’s business. Paul holds no ill will toward Peter and accepts that this income difference is the cost of having multiple dependents. Finally, the money paying for the FBA is not coming out of a pool. Peter is not subsidizing Paul; money is not being taken out of Peter’s paycheck and given to Paul.  Is this equal?  No. Is this equitable?  Yes. Those two terms mean different things. The specific situations of Peter and Paul are subject to change over time. Peter’s partner may lose his/her job, and thus, he/she may have to be added to Peter’s insurance.  In the event this happens, Peter will use more of the allotted FBA.  Likewise, one or more of Paul’s dependents may obtain their own insurance and Paul will no longer need the maximum FBA nor will he have to pay the out of pocket costs that come with it. 

 

Opinion Piece From EA Members

The following Article was written by EA Members Snigdha Mehta and Tamiko Endow and is not the opinion of the EA Board 

Note: this article is in pdf form and cannot be posted as printed.  The pdf document can be found HERE

 

Some Things to Consider

Robert Cave – Meet and Confer Committee Chair

My purpose in writing this article is not to convince you how to vote on the proposed Contract Extension, but rather to provide my thoughts and information I have gleaned that can help you decide on your own as a member of the Employees' Association.  This is not to say that this article will be unbiased; far from it.  I do not believe the proposed Contract Extension to be a fair deal given the money that the District shells out for real estate speculation, ill-defined or otherwise useless programs such as the production system and Executive Management in general.  However, I do believe this deal is the best that was available to us given the constraints provided in these negotiations.  Hopefully, the following will inform your decision as to whether you agree with this assessment.

COLA stands for cost of living adjustment, and is a means of ensuring that salaries keep up with inflation.  Six times a year, the US Department of Labor calculates the year to year change in cost of goods and services for the SF-Oak-SJ area (Feb to Feb, April to April, June to June, Aug to Aug, Oct to Oct, Dec to Dec).  These are then averaged to give the annual average percentage increase for each year (the consumer price index or CPI).  The Labor department does this for all urban consumers (CPI-U) as well as that for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W).  Comparing the two indices, W seems to be a bit less volatile than U but they are usually within 0.1 and 0.5 of each other; U has been greater than W for the last four years but that was reversed for the three years prior.  When times are bad economically, the CPI goes down; when times are good, it goes up.

For a one year contract, one can easily look up last year’s CPI and there is your COLA, or you might choose to bump it up or down a bit to get a nice round number.  Multiple year contracts require a bit more guesswork.  Some public agencies look at how the CPI is trending, pick a nice round number and negotiate a three-year contract with a 2 or 3 percent COLA for each year.  Others, like the District, tie COLA to the CPI within a range of values.  The floor of this range protects the employee, the ceiling protects the employer.  For the last 20 years, the annual CPI-W has averaged 2.7% and has been as high as 6.1 in 2001, and as low as 0.3 in 2009.  Generally speaking, COLA caps go up and down as the CPI goes, but bear in mind that there is a year lag so when times switch from good to bad sometimes agencies don’t want to provide a COLA based on last year’s high CPI for this year’s low economic conditions.  The last four years the CPI-W has been between 2.4 and 2.6, so a 3% cap in a contract may seem reasonable; however, the first two reported yearly deltas for 2017 (Feb and April) have pushed above 3, making 3.5 or higher appear to be a more reasonable number.

FBA stands for fringe benefit allowance. Similar to COLA, there is an index of likely costs provided by the cost of CalPERS health plans combined with the relatively stable and lower cost of vision and dental plans.  Single-year contracts can provide a set dollar amount based on the previous year’s index.  Multi-year contracts point to an indexed rate that is yet to be determined.  I believe that at one time the District tied their FBA to Kaiser and then CalPERS and Kaiser had a spat and so for a few years Kaiser wasn’t offered by CalPERS so there went that index.  Many agencies utilize cost-sharing where the employer pays the majority of the cost (e.g. 75, 95, 90, 95%) and the employee pays the rest.

At the District, the FBA provided by the contract has been problematic almost since adoption and this has been exacerbated by the rising cost of Health Care and the specter of unfunded liability a la PEPRA, or PEMHCA or whatever other acronym you want to use.  Attempts to make it more equitable or more manageable have largely made it worse over time.  100% coverage for families good; unused balance for singles bad.  Answer: Cafeteria plan with $100 cash back for staff, but $300 for management, WHAT?!?  No cost of living applied to cash back provision means any COLA applied to salary of those getting cash-back is less than that for employees not getting cash-back.  Health care costs rise so FBA is tied to lowest cost plan or lowest cost plan not actually offered where employees actually live.  Answer: Attempt to introduce cost sharing by only covering a portion of increase in cost of lowest cost plan available which is constantly changing.  Wait – isn’t out of pocket cost its own form of cost-sharing?

CalPERS offers a variety of plans with a variety of costs.  The cost of a plan is dictated both by coverage as well as how many are enrolled.  Basically, the cost is determined by relative value combined with supply and demand.  As more people enroll in a plan, the cost of that plan increases.  CalPERS periodically offers new low cost plans to encourage enrollment therein.
 As for the prevailing trend for FBA, most agencies are moving towards some form of cost sharing arrangement.  Some have introduced tiers of coverage to address different levels of coverage (employee, +1, +2 or more).  Most are moving away from cafeteria plans offering a cash-back provision. 

With all that background, let’s turn our gaze to the upcoming changes to how the FBA is provided in the proposed contract extension.  It introduces a formal cost-sharing through a tiered system of coverage (90% for E+2, 95% for E+1, 100% for E only) which is more equitable so this is good.  Cash-back will be eliminated which is bad (if you currently get cash-back).  A 1% increase in salary as a swap for cash-back is good if you are a high earner and not so good if you are a low earner.  The 1% is pensionable and the earlier you get it, the better, not to mention that the prevailing trend is elimination of cash-back.

Tying the FBA to Kaiser is better than tying it to “the lowest cost plan”, because the latter is a constantly moving target.  There seems to always be a “lowest cost plan” introduced each year which keeps that index low.  Kaiser seems to be more stable and more likely to track the overall trend in Health Care costs.  Regardless of Kaiser’s volatility or current cost, it is much better to have this in the contract than our current contract which specifies the cost of the “lowest cost plan” of three years ago plus 2/3 the increase in the cost of the lowest cost plan.

In conclusion, I am not providing an argument for or against this proposed MOU extension.  I do not think that it is the best we could possibly imagine for a Contract.  I do not even think that it is fair.  I do think that it is the best deal that we could get given the constraints of our negotiations.  Please make an informed and well considered decision and vote accordingly.
    

EA Options Upon Rejection of TA

The following commentary is provided by the EA's Attorney. 

  1. The EA can return to the bargaining table. Although the EA believes that the current offer will represent the District’s last, best and final offer, the District has not explicitly stated so.
  2. If there is no further movement at the table and the parties are at impasse (ie. parties have bargained in good faith and reached a point that further discussions/negotiations would be futile), the EA and District must follow any local or statutory impasse procedures, or may agree on a procedure to address the impasse.
  3. The Ad. Code allows the parties to agree to mediation but does not require it. (Ad. Code I, 10.6 (k)) Thus, the EA could suggest mediation in an attempt to break the impasse and proceed if the District agreed.
  4. The MMBA allows the EA to request factfinding.  (Govt. Code sec. 3505.4, 3505.5) Once requested by the EA, it is mandatory. Factfinding is a process whereby a panel hears the basis of the dispute and makes a non-binding, advisory recommendation of settlement terms based on statutory criteria. The District is not required to adopt the factfinders’ recommendation.
  5. The District cannot implement its last, best and final offer (or terms and conditions reasonably comprehended in pre-impasse proposals) until after any impasse procedures have been completed. 
  6. The EA can engage in certain concerted activities, the timing and extent of which must be discussed separately.     

Nomination Committee

Are you interested in taking the next step with your union?  We are currently seeking motivated individuals to serve on the next EA Board after the current Board Members' term expires this September.   We will be having a General Membership Meeting on September 6 to elect the new board.  If you are interested or have questions, please contact the head of the Nomination Committee, Paul Grazzini.  


Sign up for the Softball Game at the Summer Picnic!

 We're using SignUp.com to organize our upcoming Softball Game at the annual summer BBQ!
 
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1) Reservations can be made at SignUp.com: http://signup.com/go/gbCyeCV
2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.
3) Sign up! It's Easy - you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on SignUp.com.
 
Note: SignUp.com does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.

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EA Voice June 20107

Message from the President

Dear Members,

After several months of conventional and fast track negotiations, the EA and the Air District reached a tentative agreement on principals for an MOU extension on June 20, 2017.   What this means is that the EA and the Air District have agreed to the concepts and principals of the contract, and will now write up contract language.  A summary of this negotiation process is provided below.

To help members get a better understanding about what is in the new contract, we have summarized the principles of this extension below.  Keep in mind that a tentative agreement was signed on these principles and the negotiating team is working to draft contract language.  These principles are not subject to further negotiation.  We will be voting on a contract based on these principles.  

On a personal note, I would like to give a big thanks to the negotiation team of Robert Cave, Tina McRee, Michael Neward, Michael Wall, Ruby World and Will Saltz.  Our team has worked very hard and I believe has achieved the best contract we could get in these negotiations.  Thank you all for your hard work.  

It is an honor and a pleasure to serve.  
Thank you.
— Chris Coelho, EA President
     eapresident2015@gmail.com

Update on Contract Negotiations

The EA Negotiation team, comprised of board and non-board members, began conventional contract negotiations with District Management in early January.  On March 9th both sides agreed to Ground Rules for Negotiations, and at the start of April both sides introduced proposals for negotiation.  The EA presented proposals related to Salaries (COLA), Standby Pay, Acting Assignments, Special Pay and Allowances, Fringe Benefit Allowance, Transit Subsidy, Family Care Leave, Succession Training, and the Term of the Contract.  Management presented proposals on Deferred Compensation, Method of Filling Vacancies, and Intern & Fellow Program.  The District likely would have introduced proposals for Salaries and/or Fringe had the EA not done so, and this may be true for other items initially presented by the EA.  

In early April, District Management approached the EA leadership about the potential to explore a "fast-track" negotiation process that would limit discussions to the big money items (COLA, FBA, and Term).  This fast-track process would not be subject to the same collective bargaining rules as conventional contract negotiations.  Representatives from both sides met informally through the month of April, reaching a tentative agreement on April 18th.  This tentative agreement was presented to the EA Board for ratification and it was voted down since the majority of the EA Board felt that the tentative agreement was unlikely to be accepted by the General Membership.  

Conventional Negotiations resumed May 11th, and the EA team met with the District Management team on five occasions.  Progress was made on some items, and little progress on others.  With the end of the contract term fast approaching, the EA negotiating team impressed upon the District Management team the need for more serious negotiation.

After some preliminary informal discussion, both sides renewed fast-track negotiations reaching tentative agreement on an enhanced package limited to COLA, FBA, Standby Pay, Transit Subsidy, and Term of Contract.  The EA Board voted to ratify the Tentative Agreement on Principles for an MOU Extension on June 21.  The EA Negotiating team will now work out the Contract Language for these principles in negotiations with District Management.  Once this work is completed, both sides will sign a tentative agreement on the MOU which will be forwarded to the EA board for recommendation to the General Membership to vote for or against adoption of the Amended MOU.  If approved by Membership, it will then go before the District Board of Directors for their consideration and adoption.  
 
 

Summary of Principles of MOU Extension

Contract language is currently being written, but the principles of the contract are listed below.  We will send out the finished language as soon as we can.  

Term
The term of this contract will be for two years (7/1/2017 to 6/30/2019).  
 
COLA
Year one (July 1, 2017): salaries will increase by the CPI of 2.7%
Year two (July 1, 2018): salaries will increase by the CPI (not less than 1% and not more than 3.5%)

Salary Enhancement / Cash Out Swap
On January 1, 2018, all members will receive an additional 1.0% increase in salary.
 
In addition to the 1.0% increase in salary, employees that do not use all of their Fringe Benefit Allowance and previously received cash back will receive on January 1, 2018 a one-time payment (not to exceed $1,200) of annual cashback minus 1.0% of their salary.  Note that there will be no reduction of salary in any form if 1.0% of your salary is greater than $1,200.  Affected employees will receive a one-time cashback between $1 to approximately $750.  Refer to examples below for details.   

Example 1: if you currently make $65,000 and receive full cash back ($1200), you will get the 1% pay increase of $650, plus an additional one-time payment of $550.  
 $1200 - 1% salary ($650) = $550.

Example 2: If you currently make  $144,000 and receive full cash back, you will get a 1% pay increase of $1,440 and no additional one-time payment. 
 $1200-$1440 = $0 cash back (there is no negative)

Example 3: If you currently make  $85,000 and receive $900 cash back, you will get a 1% pay increase of $850 and one-time payment of $50.
$900-$850 = $50.

Fringe Benefit Allowance
On January 1, 2018, there will be an implementation of a Tiered Benefit Model based on Kaiser HMO premiums. 

Eligible Employees (EE) only: will receive 100% of Kaiser HMO singles plus 100% dental and 100% vision for Employee Only Plan.

EE plus one: will receive 95% of Kaiser HMO plus one and 95% dental and vision for Employee plus One Dependent Plan.  

EE plus family: will receive 90% of Kaiser HMO premium for employee plus two or more plus 90% dental and vision for Employee plus Two Dependents or more.  

Effective January 1, 2018, the cash out option will terminate.  

For employees hired before July 1, 2017:

Maximum monthly benefit capped at $1763.70 per month or Tiered Benefit Model Based on Kaiser HMO premiums for class of enrollment as described above, whichever is higher effective January 1, 2018.  

For employees hired on or after July 1, 2017:

Maximum monthly benefit capped at Tiered Benefit Model Based on Kaiser HMO premiums for class of enrollment as described above with no cash out option.

Retirement Healthcare benefits
For employees hired before July 1, : $1763.70 or Tiered Benefit Model Based on Kaiser HMO Premiums for class of enrollment as described above, whichever is higher upon date of retirement. 

For employees hired on or after July 1, 2017:

Tiered Benefit Model Based on Kaiser HMO premiums as described above.    

Standby Pay
Standby pay increased to $5.00 per hour.  

Transit Subsidy 
Transit subsidy increased to the IRS limit ($255).  Future increases will be pegged to IRS increases and not subject to decreases.  

General Membership Meeting

July 6, 2017. 12-1 p.m.
Our next General Membership meeting will be Thursday July 6 from 12-1 p.m. in the Yerba Buena Room.  We will be going over the new contract with members.

For field staff:  we will be webcasting the meeting at the following field offices:

  • Richmond Field Office, 845 Marina Bay Parkway, Richmond
  • Concord Field Office, 1900 Bates Avenue, Suite G, Concord
  • Hayward Field Office, 26220 Industrial Blvd, Hayward

 Lunch will be provided at the Beale St. meeting and at the field office locations.  

In addition,  the EA will host an Open House on Monday July 10 from 12-1 p.m. in the Santa Clara Room if members have additional questions.   

Contract Vote July 11 & 12

Voting for the contract will be done electronically starting July 11 at 8:30 a.m. and ending July 12 at 6:00 p.m.  Members will be voting to accept or decline the offer.

You will be getting an email sent to your Air District email from electionbuddy.com.  If you do not get this email on July 11 on 8:30 a.m., please check your junk or your clutter box.      

EA Board Meetings

The EA Board meets on the second Wednesday of the month in the Bay Area Conference Room 6102. Meeting agendas are posted on the EA and the Public Bulletin boards one week prior to the meeting.  Our next EA Board Meeting will be July 19th at 11:45 am. 

Nomination Committee

Are you interested in taking the next step with your union?  We are currently seeking motivated individuals to serve on the next EA Board after the current Board Members' term expires this September.   We will be having a General Membership Meeting on September 6 to elect the new board.  If you are interested or have questions, please contact the head of the Nomination Committee, Paul Grazzini.  

Baseball Game Sign Up! 

We're using SignUp.com to organize our upcoming Softball Game at the annual summer BBQ!
 
Here's how it works in 3 easy steps:
 
1) Reservations can be made at SignUp.com: http://signup.com/go/gbCyeCV
2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.
3) Sign up! It's Easy - you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on SignUp.com.
 
Note: SignUp.com does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.
 

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