Strike Information for Managers and Supervisors - March 20, 2019

Negotiations between the University and UPTE (University Professional and Technical Employees) for a new contract covering the Research Support Professional Unit (which includes staff research associates and museum scientists) and the Technical Unit (which includes technicians, editors, lab assistants, scene technicians, business technical and support analysts, animal technicians among others) have concluded without coming to an agreed upon contract. Negotiations between UPTE and the University in the Health Care Professional Unit (which includes counseling psychologists, social workers, pharmacists, laboratory scientists and occupational health technicians) are at impasse. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) which represents  employees in the Patient Care Technical Unit (which includes radiologist, medical assistants, pharmacy technicians and opticians) and the Service Unit (which includes custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, grounds workers) remain at impasse.  

 

UPTE and AFSCME have informed the University that the employees in these units will go on strike commencing at 4:00 am, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Employees who are already working shifts that began before 4:00 am will continue to work through their regularly scheduled hours and will not leave mid-shift. The strike will end at 3:59 am, Thursday, March 21, 2019. Striking employees who were scheduled to work shifts commencing prior to 4:00 am will remain on strike through the end of their shift and will not report to work mid-shift.

Below are answers to some important questions about your employees' rights, what managers and supervisors may say/may not say to employees, and the status of current negotiations.

 

1 - Responding to employee inquiries about the strike
As a manager or supervisor you can feel free to provide the employee with information that has been prepared by the University. This information may be particularly helpful if the employee states that he or she is trying to decide whether or not to participate in the strike. . However, employees should be referred to their union about specific questions regarding union membership, union activities and potential strike activity.

2 - Don’t guess
If you are asked a question that you can’t answer, don’t guess. Tell the employee that you will get an answer as soon as possible.  Make sure you do respond to the employee promptly. You can refer your employees to the following websites:

  • Managers and supervisors should not offer their support of either the University’s or the Union’s position. Managers should remain neutral.

  • Managers and supervisors should not make promises to employees for a lack of support for the strike nor should they demonstrate support or opposition to the Union.

  • You can refer your employees to HR Policy and Labor Relations at (510) 643-6001 or suggest that they email their question to labrel@berkeley.edu.

3 - What non-striking employees may do during a strike
If you are asked what non-striking employees can do during a strike, you may say that the law protects the right of all employees to cross a picket line to come to work.

4 - Handling new requests for vacation time
You may receive requests for vacation for March 20-21, 2019. Your decision to grant or deny the request should be based on operational needs. The reason for the vacation should not be the basis of the denial or approval of the request.  Please remember that the strike ends at 3:59 am, Thursday, March 21, 2019.

  • Advance Notice to Employees of Decision Not to Grant Vacation Leave for March 20-21  - Suggested Script
    "This is to inform you that due to operational needs no vacation leave will be granted for March 20-21, 2019. Employees whose pre-approved vacation leave requests includes any or all of these dates will be permitted to take the vacation leave as scheduled. All other staff are expected to report to work as scheduled. If you fail to report to work as scheduled, your absence will be considered an unauthorized absence without pay.”

  • Denying Individual Vacation Requests - Suggested Script
    "Due to operational needs, I am not able to grant your request for vacation leave for _______ (dates). You are expected to report to work for your scheduled shift. If you fail to report to work as scheduled, your absence will be considered an unauthorized absence without pay."

5 - Handling already-scheduled vacations
In general, it is better to allow already-scheduled vacations to occur as originally agreed if your operational needs will not be seriously disrupted. If, however, your operational needs may be impacted, you may wish to discuss with the employee the possibility of rescheduling the vacation time. Similarly, you will want to give deference to other previously  approved scheduled leaves (for example, training and development, military leave etc.).

6 - Handling requests for compensatory time-off
Employees may request to be on compensatory time off (CTO) during the Mach 20-12 period. Your decision to grant or deny the request should be based on operational needs. The reason for the use of the CTO should not be the basis of the denial or approval of the request.

7 - Handling requests for sick leave
The unusual circumstances of a strike would also justify departmental requests for medical verification of illness from a licensed health practitioner when the striking employee returns to work as a condition of sick leave approval. Please remember that you cannot request verification of illness from an employee who has been approved for intermittent FMLA.

If you choose to require medical verification, the requirement must apply to all employees in these bargaining units who call in sick during the March 20-12 period.  Again, please remember that you cannot request verification of illness from an employee who has been approved for intermittent FMLA. The request for verification of illness must be made at the time the employee calls in sick. If the employee leaves a message either on a machine or with someone else, you must call the employee back and inform her/him of the requirement.

If you believe that your bargaining unit employees will call in sick during the period March 20-21, you may send them advanced written notification of the requirement that they bring verification of illness from a licensed health practitioner.

  • Advance Notice to Employees of Medical Verification Requirement - Suggested Script
    "This is to advise you that all employees who call in sick during the period Mach 20-21, 2019, will be required to provide verification of illness from a licensed health practitioner upon their return to work. Without this verification, absences from work will be considered unauthorized absences without pay."

  • Employees Who Call in Sick - Suggested Script
    "In order for me to approve your sick leave request for today, you will need to bring in a verification of illness for all days of your absence signed by a licensed health practitioner at the time you return to work. Failure to do so will result in a denial of sick leave and you will be absent from work without authorization and will not be paid."

  • Employees Who Text or Leave a Voicemail to Say s/he Will Not be in Due to Sickness
    You should call or text the employee back as soon as possible and notify the employee that medical verification of illness will be required when the employee returns to work. See suggested script above. 

8 - What non-striking employees should know about crossing picket lines
Picketing is lawful so long as it is peaceful, does not interfere with the normal course of business, and does not prohibit non-striking employees to come to work.  Non-striking employees should avoid confrontations and should not respond to any comments that picketers may direct at them. Non-striking employees should not invite or engage in any exchanges, which might inflame the situation. At Berkeley, picketers have always been committed to their position, but also respectful of the rights and views of others.

9 - What do I do if one of my employees arrives late to work during the strike?
Employees may be delayed in arriving to work due to strike activities. Managers and supervisors are encouraged to consider these factors before initiating any action for the tardiness.

10 - One of my employees regularly telecommutes on Tuesdays. She has asked to change her telecommute day to Wedneesday, the week of the strike. How should I respond?
You have the authority to grant or not to grant the request. Again, your decision should be based on the operational needs of the unit.

11 - Can an employee engage in picketing or protesting on her/his own time?
UC has a long tradition of respecting the civil expression of individual views, and individual employees are free to express their rights so long as such participation is on their personal time, does not conflict with their agreed upon work duties, or violate established University policies.

12 - If an employee does not come to work as a result of the strike, will the employee’s pay and benefits be affected?
Employees will not be paid for absences due to participating in a strike. Benefits that are based on the percentage of time worked during the pay period may be affected.

13 - Are all of the unions that represent University employees going on strike?
No. The collective bargaining agreements that cover employees in the Academic Student Employee Unit, the Clerical Unit, the Student Health Physician Unit, the Non-Senate Instructional Unit, the Skilled Crafts Unit, the Police Officers Unit,the Registered Nurses and the Postdoctoral Scholar Unit have “No Strike” articles. Those articles provide that neither the union nor the employees it represents will engage in strikes, stoppages or interruptions of work, or other concerted activities, including sympathy strikes, which interfere directly or indirectly with University operations during the life of the current contract.  

14 - Are campus employees expected to come to work during the strike?
Yes. All campus employees are required to be at work as scheduled and to perform work as assigned, even if it means crossing the picket line. Offices will be kept open, courses will be taught, and the campus will endeavor to provide normal or equivalent service. If an individual encounters a picket line, the law protects her/his right to cross it.

The Berkeley campus has experienced employee strikes in the past. In all cases, picketers have been very committed to their points of view, but also respectful of the views of others.

15 - May employees wear union t-shirts or union buttons to work on the day of the strike?
Employees should be permitted to wear union t-shirts and buttons in the workplace on the day of the strike provided that the t-shirt is not inconsistent with the department’s written dress code and that there are no health and safety issues.  

16 - May supervisors and managers take photographs or video of striking employees and picketers?
No.  It would be inappropriate and potentially an unfair labor practice for a manager or supervisor to take photographs or to video striking employees or picketers. If you believe that the actions of the striking employees or picketers should be documented, you should contact campus Labor Relations at (510) 643-6001 or email labrel@berkeley.edu providing the location of the striking employees and/or picketers and describing the activities they are engaged in. Campus police and Labor Relations will be monitoring the strike and will determine if any documentation of the activity is needed and will take the appropriate action.

17 - Media Inquiries
If someone from the media contacts you regarding strike issues such as pay, benefits, contract negotiations and the strike, refer the individual to UCOP Communications at (510) 987-9200.

If someone from the media contacts you regarding the impact of the strike on the Berkeley campus, refer the individual to UC Berkeley Public Affairs at (510) 642-3734.

 

Please send any questions regarding the information provided above to labrel@berkeley.edu or call 510-643-6001.