Rank and File Scientists Demanding our Rights



I just attended the CAPS meeting at DTSC. I distributed the attached document to the members and got one “thank you” for speaking up as I left the building.


1)       We won the holidays that were stolen…it sounded like we are supposed to get 20 hours per day stolen but we were not told if that would come as cash, CTO or what other format. This case was won in front of  Judge Tim Folly of superior court.

2)       The room was polled after a presentation of the SEIU agreement to ask if we will agree to a similar agreement. The room was unanimous in their rejection of the SEIU agreement as a basis for our negotiation.

3)       Regarding continuing furlough we are going back to court arguing that as they are applied now they are unequal, unfair and possibly illegal.  This case will be heard by Judge Brick who was favorable before.

4)       Salary parity case progressing to final oral arguments this is only for supervisors and a similar case could not be made for the rank and file, we are told, because the law is written that way.

The meeting commenced Matt Austin introduced the board members and Chris Voight.  In attendance were John Budroe (at large rep), Valarie Brown (VP) , David Miller  and Chris Rodgers .

Valarie Brown started speaking and asked if there were site representatives in the room.  None were identified.

She then said she was going to review the SEIU contract to ask for our opinion.

At this point I intervened calling for the orders of the day.  Which is how, according to Robert’s Rule of Order, you ask for the agenda.  She said this was the agenda. I said I had not been provided an agenda and she said she would read the agenda after presenting the SEIU contract….I was dismissed after noting that the By Laws calls for meetings to run under Robert’s Rules and that we need an agenda and a chairperson otherwise the membership does not know how and when to raise issues and participate.  I was dismissed without objection.

The membership as noted rejected the SEIU contract as a basis for our negotiations.  Then one member (Marty) asked that we ask the new governor to make the rescission of the furlough his first act. The leadership then explained all the reasons Jerry can’t do that because he is accused of being in the pockets of the unions etc…and then they went on and explained this will probably take months.

Based on Marty opening a discussion of strategy and tactics I entered the discussion with the first motion on the leaflet.  After explaining that we needed to consider other strategy I made the motion: “Whereas a one hour annual meeting is not sufficient to address the strategy and tactics of our union in the fight for a fair contract; therefore, be it resolved that it is the decision of this meeting that the board convene a state wide convention of CAPS in mid January.”

As there was no real chairperson and no procedure and the membership was not responding I explained that a motion was on the floor and that it needed to be seconded or it would be dropped…  Marty seconded the motion but said the meeting should did not have to be in January and made the point that a convention could get us press.

Then the leadership all explained how we didn’t need a demonstration to get press and that we had plenty of opportunity to meet and discuss and that the board meetings are open and no one ever shows up and that it is expensive to have meetings all over the state and the members are complaining about how many doughnuts the board buys already.    Then the discussion got tangential and the motion got covered by other inquiry,  I mentioned again that there was a motion on the floor, but did not press for a vote.  Mat Austin tried to assuage Marty saying, “Marty if you feel you need another meeting just call me and we will set up a meeting you… can do that any time.”

I stood for a point of inquiry and asked if this was the Annual meeting. I  had presumed from the notice of the meeting that it was the annual meeting which was proscribed by the By-Laws Article III Section I.  Much to my amusement I was told by David Miller that the annual meeting is a board meeting to install officers and directors.

After a few moments I spoke to a point of clarification  during which I read the actual section of By-Laws to the meeting David Miller told-us that no one wants to know what’s in the by laws.

They clearly state:  Article III Meetings of Members  Section 1- Annual Meetings of members  (a) An annual meeting of the members shall be held. (b) The purpose of the annual meeting of the members shall be to install Officers and Directors. (c) Association business other than the installation of Officers and Directors may be transacted.

Based on point (c) I was hoping we could transact other business such as calling for a State wide convention to discuss strategy and tactics etc.  But it turns out that this set of meetings are called site meetings and are not the Annual meeting which are called for in the By-laws.

My next point of inquiry was if this was not the annual meeting when is the annual meeting.  When was the last annual meeting?  None of these questions could be answered because they are not following the By-Laws.   There have not been annual meetings of the membership as described in the By Laws and board member (David Miller) actually thinks that their meetings replace the right of the membership to have its meetings to “transact other business”.  There is no mechanism for the membership to fully participate in and make this a democratic union in the By-Laws other than the Annual Meeting provision and that is not sufficient.

Bottom line according to the board these site meetings are not any more than informational meetings and you the members have no input into the day to day, week by week direction of the organization other than to vote for the board and answer when a straw poll is floated (such as was done at the beginning of the meeting).

The board presented no minutes of the last meeting or of the meeting of the board from this week end, no financial report  was presented to the review of the membership, none of the normal organizational information that is part of tens of thousands of union meetings across the country every month were presented.  This is how Blanning and Baker with an obsequious board control the union and keep our membership quiet, demoralized and stuck on the dead end strategy of depending on the courts and politicians instead of building a strong fighting union based on solidarity, unity and action.

As we approach the next site meetings, next week,  members should consider:

Do we want a mechanism to participate and make decisions in our union?  Do we even think that we had to have a real democratic union meeting where the membership can advance its viewpoints and reach decisions or do we think the board and Blanning and Baker should be the decision makers?  Presently there is no mechanism for the membership to seriously discuss strategy and tactics and through democratic discussion make decisions about the direction of the organization.  Only you can change this!

Charles Rachlis

Associate Industrial Hygienist/


September 2, 2011 - Posted by | CAPS BYLAWS ISSUES | , , , ,

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