capsfightingunioncaucus

Rank and File Scientists Demanding our Rights

CAPS BOARD INSTALLATION-IN VIOLATION OF P&P & CCC

From: Rachlis, Charles

Sent: Mon 10/31/2011 4:26 PM
To: CAPS
Subject: NOTICE: CAPS operating in violation of 2011 Policy Manual

NOTICE TO CAPS BOARD:

YOU ARE OPPERATING IN VIOLATION OF THE POLICY AND PROCEDURES FOR CAPS.  THE BYLAWS CHANGE OF FEBRUARY 2011 WAS MADE ILLEGALLY AND THE CURRENT MOU WAS SIGNED BY OFFICERS NOT DULY INSTALLED AS PER BYLAWS AND CAPS CURRENT POLICY.  CONTINUATION OF THESE VIOLATIONS ARE CRIMES AGAINST THE MEMBERSHIP AND HAVE RESULTED IN THEFT OF SERVICES AND RACKETEERING.

I have discovered that the installation of officers planned for this Saturday will be done in violation of the 2011 Policy and Procedures for CAPS.

Page 18 of the CAPS Policy manual dated February 2011. Section V. MISCELLANEOUS, B.ELECTIONS 2. States:  “Elections are held in October of each odd numbered year, with new officers being installed at the corresponding Annual meeting to be held in November (Revised 01/10/04).

This is a continuation of the long term violation of the Bylaws  which  (until February 2011) required both an Annual Membership meeting and that the officers will be installed at that meeting.  This required Annual meeting has not been held in over 10 years.  When I brought this to the attention of the Board last November the board did not respond to me directly.  You seemingly ignored my complaint that the sitting board was sitting illegally but then you did go ahead and change the bylaws in February 2011 to abolish the Annual Membership meeting.

But the staff did not closely cross check the Policy Manual which supplements the bylaws and guides the organization.  If they had, they would have had to hide the evidence of past democratic practices by changing  Policy Manual Section V.B.2.  but they did not.  Therefore this planned installation meeting Saturday next will commit acts against the intention of the Policy Manual and in violation of the old bylaws.

In the same vain the new bylaws (passed in February 2011) were put in place by a board which was (as were the last 5 boards) illegally installed.  In fact the MOU itself is an illegal document because it was signed by officers who were installed illegally in violation of the bylaws.  This is the consequence of ignoring the bylaws and trying to hide the member’s rights from the membership.  The entire edifice upon which CAPS is governed collapses in a sea of violations of CAPS bylaws, and policies.  Even if CAPS’ overseers at B&B caught Policy V.B.2. and changed it the organization would still be in violation of California Corporate Code which requires that Regular Meetings be held at a set time and place, not at a time and place to be set by the board as is written the new 2011 (illegally drafted, passed and implemented) Bylaws.

Charles Rachlis

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November 1, 2011 Posted by | CAPS BYLAWS ISSUES, CAPS election 2011, CAPS HISTORY | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last day to get your ballot in the mail

Brothers and Sisters,

We carried out a strong campaign to expose the nature of CAPS.  We intend to characterize CAPS as the worst sort of company union.  While CAPS poses as independent it is nothing of the sort.  The members of CAPS have no real input into the direction of the organization.  The organization has been under captive control of the labor consultation firm Blanning and Baker LLC since its birth.   We learned in court from H. Mattson Austin’s testimony that it was a profit making firm Blanning and Baker LLC which originally got unit 10 members to sign union cards.  This is highly irregular.  Most bargaining units are organized by their own members or by an international union.  But ours was organized for the expressed interest of a profit taking corporation which has run CAPS since its incorporation.  Our campaign started because we found the current leadership incapable of understanding the current economic conditions and incapable of developing a strategy and tactics to defend and advance the interests of the members.  But trying to advance a fighting strategy for labor we found out our union is run by a corporation for a corporation and at the expense of the membership.

What we learned about CAPS during this process.

1) CAPS will take money from Liberty Mutual insurance company and give them access to members home mail addresses but will not allow rank and file members the right to write to  the membership, even during a campaign, with uncensored statements or campaign material.

2) Blanning and Baker LLc. will do everything they can to prevent rank and file members, even when they are candidates, from having uncensored access to the membership. We witnessed H. Mattson Austin assault a CAPS  member and perjure himself in court to keep the candidate from having access to a membership list. These thugs will even slap a law suit on a rank and file candidate member which they know will get laughed out of court as was the case of Austin vs. Rachlis.

3) CAPS has no staff.  Blanning and Baker LLC. is the employeer of a non-union staff.  In other words our union is run by  a scab shop.

4) CAPS has no office. CAPS  is run out of the offices of Blanning and Baker LLc.

5) CAPS gave Presidential candidate David Miller $15,000.00 for his failed run for a position on the CALPERS board.

6) Blanning and Baker strut their stuff by passing CAPS PAC money around to politicians who take vote against our interests, impose the austerity on our backs while letting the major corporations and California’s 84 billionaires off scott free!

7) CAPS under the direction of Blanning and Baker LLc.  censor rank and file candidates statements but allow the incumbents the right to disparage and make insinuating statements against the fighting union caucus candidates.

8) CAPS under the direction of Blanning and Baker LLc. uses the CAPSULE and the CAP e-mail to write puff stories on the incumbents “magnificent” contributions even giving Candidat Valez a one page good-by letter during the last week of the campaign with no offer of equal space to the opposing candidates.

9) Blanning and Baker LLc. has directed its staff not to respond to requests from  opposition candidates for Policy and Procedure documents and has not produced an independent audit of CAPS finances to the opposition candidates.

10) That CAPS has not held the by-laws mandated annual membership meeting in over 10 years in violation of both the By-laws and the California Corporate Code.

11) That PERB has no provision to protect a union members rights from its union’s disregard for the law or lack of democracy.

12) That CAPS is organized as a Mutual Benefit Non-Profit Corporation and is therefore subject to California Corporate Code with mandates both regular membership meetings (with technological accommodation for organizations separated by geography), and demands that members be given access to a membership list including addresses and phone numbers.  This is to assure candidates have the ability to reach the membership with their positions, and that rank and file members have the right to bring a petition to the entire membership of the organization.

13) CAPS contract requires rank and file members with grievances to bring them to their direct supervisor who may also be a CAPS member.  This creates a conflict of interest when a CAPS representative (Blanning and Baker LLC non-union scab staffers) come in to settle the grievance.   Indeed we have heard numerous cases where H. Mattson Austin came in for a grievance and sided with management against the rank and file.

14) CAPS is not an independent union.  It is a profit making center for the bullies and thugs at Blanning and Baker LLc.

 

POST YOU BALLOT IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY! FRIDAY IS THE DROP DEAD DATE TO GET IT IN THE MAIL!

VOTE FOR WILL WRIGHT FOR PRESIDENT,  CHARLES RACHLIS FOR VICE PRESIDENT, AND GORGIO COSENTINO FOR TREASURER

http://www.capsfightingunioncaucus.wordpress.com

October 21, 2011 Posted by | CAPS election 2011, CAPS HISTORY | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-CAPS Board member Lauren Wold view on Blanning & Baker

WE MOVE LAURENS’ LETTER TO THE TOP OF THE BLOG BECAUSE WHAT SHE WARNED US OF LAST NOVEMBER WE HAVE COME TO DISCOVER IN OUR ONGOING CAMPAIGN FOR DEMOCRACY IN CAPS

—–Original Message—–
From: Wold, Lauren
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2010 10:26 AM
To: Cosentino, Giorgio (CDPH-CID-DCDC-VRDL)
Subject: FW: Regarding CAPS

Hi Giorgio,

My experience with CAPS lead me to believe that it was a money making venture on the part of Blanning and Baker for Blanning and Baker rather than a true representative organization working on behalf of the State Scientists. I came to this conclusion when it became evident to me that
Chris Voit and Matt Austin (I forget the correct spelling of their names) held a tight reign on the communications between the Board Members and the Board Members’ constituents. With the exception of my PHM co-workers at the State Lab, I was prevented from directly contacting the people whom I was representing. Many of the CAPS members I represented were employed somewhere other than 850 Marina Bay Parkway. Blanning and Baker had CAPS Members’ contact information but would not share this with me. I was told that if there was something I wanted to ask or say to the people in the district I represented I needed to go through the CAPS office or discuss it with the “Inner Circle” (my term for Matt A. and Chris V.).

When I did bring up issues at the Board Meetings I was told condescendingly and in no uncertain terms “you are new here” and “we will deal with this”. But these issues that I knew and thought to be issues of concern, at least with PHMs at the State Lab were subsequently ignored and dropped. Also, when I brought up issues such as pay parity, safety at the workplace, reinstating the shuttle bus from the State Lab to BART there was never any discussion at the Board Meetings. All the other Board Members would simultaneously turn to look at Chris V. to hear what he would say which would usually be a vague response and dismissive . Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed with the other Board Members for not wanting to discuss what might be serious options or impediments to moving ahead with issues on concern. Pay and safety are everybody’s concern. The shuttle bus may have been unique to the State Lab employees but the employees elsewhere may benefit in the future with a similar situation. (We did get the shuttle back but it was not because of Blanning and Baker’s input. There were State employees, not even CAPS members, who were very hard working and effective in reinstating the shuttle.)

In my opinion Blanning and Baker ran CAPS in the manner of an oligarchy rather than a democracy where the Board Members and the monthly board  meetings gave the impression of a dynamic, interactive participatory organization. But, again, in my opinion, the “Inner Circle” called the shots and the Board Members were mere impotent figureheads either because they were satisfied enough just to be “in the club” or they were
intimidated by the “Inner Circle”.

Another thing that bothered me was how Blanning and Baker used our lobbyist. Lobbyist get paid big money. Our lobbyist got paid big money.  The amount is voted on by the Board Members “guided” by guess who… I felt that the general membership should be in on understanding what the lobbyist did, does and can do.  The few times the lobbyist came to speak to the Board Members he spent most of the time essentially gossiping about who in Sacramento eats at which restaurant, who is vacationing with whom, who has what kind of boat! I’m not joking! We need to hold him accountable and show us what he is doing on our behalf and prove that he is effective in the job we hired him to do.

Good luck, Giorgio.

Lauren

October 5, 2011 Posted by | CAPS HISTORY | , , , , | Leave a comment

Twenty little known facts about CAPS relations with Blanning and Baker LLc

Twenty little known facts about CAPS relations with Blanning and Baker LLc

  1.     Per the original CAPS Policy File, CAPS contracts with the labor consulting firm, Blanning and Baker (B & B).

2.     The Chief Financial Officer of B & B is Mr. Matt Austin.  The approximately 2500 members of CAPS pays approximately $800,000.00 dollars per year to B & B.

3.     Blanning and Baker are also the labor consultants for Professional Engineers of California Government (PECG), which has 13,000 members.  Assuming dues of $50 per month, B & B receives $7,800,000.00 from PECG.  The founder of Blanning and Baker, Bruce Blanning, was previously a state engineer.  He is the Executive Director of PECG.

4.     All CAPS office employees are Blanning and Baker employees.  Their names can be found on the Blanning and Baker webpage.

5.     The rights of representation of CAPS members are conferred by the Ralph Dills Act.  The agency responsible for enforcement of provisions of the Dills Act is the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB).

6.     CAPS is also a Non-profit Mutual Benefit Corporation governed by the California Corporations Code.  The agency responsible for enforcement of this code includes the Office of the Attorney General and the Superior Court (county of primary corporation office).

7.     Chain-of-command:  Blanning and Baker report to the CAPS elected president.  The contract CAPS has with Blanning and Baker is reviewed-approved by the CAPS elected board.  CAPS can terminate Blanning and Baker if they so choose.

8.     The CAPS bylaws are intentionally hidden:  CAPS intentionally hides their bylaws and policy file documents while other unions post them on the union webpage.  These documents are the rights the members have with their union.  These documents were previously posted on the password-protected part of the CAPS webpage, but have since gone missing after members began scrutinizing them.  The explanation given by a Blanning and Baker employee for not displaying them is that “the union business is competitive.” The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) document that is posted on the CAPS webpage does not address the rights members have with CAPS/Blanning and Baker, only the rights members have with their employer.

9.     CAPS site reps are appointed, not elected:  Per the bylaws, site reps are handpicked by the CAPS board, not elected.

10.  Failure to hold member meetings (previous bylaws requirement):  The previously required (prior to 2011 revision of bylaws) annual meeting of the members never occurred.  These would have been formal meetings, with set agenda, and documented minutes.  Instead, the only meetings CAPS members have participated in have been “informational meetings”, no minutes documenting your voice-concerns for other members across the state to hear or read.  The revised (March, 2011) bylaws have removed the requirement of a yearly meeting for the members.  Blanning and Baker staff cite logistical challenges of an annual meetings as CAPS members are distributed throughout the state.

11.  Circulating petitions not possible:  CAPS has no petition procedure and the CAPS board and B & B staff have made it clear they do not support one.  In a recent email communication, Treasurer David Miller stated, “If you want a petition circulated, it is YOUR job to do it, not CAPS staff. In fact, if I find that our staff is assisting anyone to circulate petitions, I would find THAT to be a serious error.”  It should be noted that SEIU has a procedure for circulating petitions.  In the words of the B & B Staff Director “CAPS has that language (petition option) in its bylaws as a requirement of the California Corporations Code, on advice of counsel.  Every Mutual Benefit Non Profit Corporation (MBNPC), as CAPS is organized, should have it.  But that doesn’t mean the process is practical or that it would ever be used in an organization the size and shape of CAPS.”

12.  The holding of special meetings not possible:  The bylaws state that members can use a petition to call for a special meeting. To do so, members need 5% of the membership.  CAPS has no petition procedure.  CAPS will not help circulate a petition.  CAPS will not provide members with a membership list (not even work addresses).  The option to call a special meeting is non-existent.

13.  No recall elections:  The bylaws say members can recall elected officers by conducting a special meeting or petition.  As neither is possible, the option to hold a recall election is non-existent.

14.  Decertification not possible:  In violation of state law (enforced by PERB), CAPS members cannot decertify CAPS.  The state collective bargaining laws include a provision for members to decertify their union, and thus seeking representation from another union.  The state procedure requires a petition containing signatures of 30% of the membership.  The CAPS membership is divided into 5 districts throughout the state, each containing approximately 500 members, the locations of these members unknown.  The option to decertify is non-existent.

15.  Severance not possible:  CAPS members cannot seek severance from their union.  In violation of state law, a specific group of CAPS members cannot seek severance from CAPS as this can only be done via the circulation of a petition. The option to seek severance from CAPS is non-existent.

16.  Censoring of candidate statements:  CAPS censor’s election candidate statements by adding additional “censoring” language to the bylaws that EXCEEDS the candidate statement requirements of the governing California Corporations Code.  CAPS has added their own additional verbiage stating that a candidate statement cannot contain any information that could bring harm to CAPS.  This includes damaging facts regarding the conduct and performance of Blanning and Baker staff.   Unlike other CAPS bylaws provisions, this one item is STRICTLY ENFORCED as evidenced by recent sanitizing of statements of current candidates.  CAPS candidate statements were required to first be submitted to Blanning and Baker staff, instead of the CAPS election committee.  The election committee then reviews the statements.  Presumably, a lawyer is included in the review of these statements.  Presumably, the lawyer is an employee of Blanning and Baker.  Presumably, that lawyer would not be able to impartially review a candidate statement that calls for the termination of Blanning and Baker.

17.  Communication Blackout:  CAPS has ignored previous requests from members to add a mechanism of communication, such as an E-forum or list serve.

18.  CAPS funding of PACs:  In 2010, $530,600.00 (1/3 of CAPS dues) was paid to political campaigns by CAPS.  CAPS also gave $7,800.00 to Treasurer David Miller for his pursuit of a seat on the PERS board.

19.  “Independent” Financial audits:  The bylaws require these.  The treasurer, two weeks after being asked, now states they are being performed.  It is known that yearly audits are being performed by the “non-independent” Blanning and Baker bookkeeper.  Audits are also being performed by the “non-independent” CPAs, Kumpf and Leippe.  It is not known who is performing the “independent” audits.

20.  CAPS Lawsuit strategy:  Review of lawsuits filed by CAPS in past 20 years reveals a losing record.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | CAPS HISTORY | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Track Record of Lawsuits Brought by CAPS and PECG

Track Record of Lawsuits Brought by CAPS and PECG

Under Management of Blanning & Baker, 1991-present

Status as of September 1, 2011

NOTE: Gerald A. James is listed as counsel for CAPS and/or PECG in some of the more recent cases outlined below. Mr. James was admitted to the California State Bar in 1995. His address of record with the State Bar is at the Blanning & Baker office in Sacramento. Blanning & Baker’s website states that he is general counsel to Blanning & Baker’s clients. The website does not reveal whether Mr. James’s legal services are included in the fees Blanning & Baker’s clients pay for general management, or are charged to clients separately, or some combination of the two.

Case Title and Court Docket Number: PECG v. Department of Transportation, A131449

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: First District Court of Appeal, 8/8/11, 198 Cal.App.4th 17

Lawyers for PECG: Jennifer T. Buckman of Somach Simmons & Dunn, and Gerald A. James

Result and Current Status: PECG loses; PECG could still seek review by California Supreme Court, but has not yet done so.

Description: PECG contended that the engineering work on the replacement of Doyle Drive in San Francisco was supposed to be handled by state employee engineers. The court rejected this position and held that the engineering work could be contracted out because the project qualified as a public-private partnership under the changes to section 143 of the Streets and Highway Code made by the Legislature in 2009.

Case Title and Court Docket Number: CAPS v. Department of Finance, C063118

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: Third District Court of Appeal, 5/25/11, 195 Cal.App.4th 1228

Lawyer for CAPS: Gerald A. James

Result and Current Status: CAPS loses; California Supreme Court denied review on 8/10/11; decision is final.

Description: CAPS contended that the Department of Finance was required to seek funding from the Legislature for salary increases that the Department of Personnel Administration found were needed in order to give CAPS members salary parity with comparable positions in other agencies. The court rejected this position, and held that neither the Department of Finance nor the governor were required to ask the Legislature to appropriate enough money to pay the increases, and that the increases do not have to be paid if they are not included in the budget. (Note that even if CAPS had won this case, this would only have required the Department of Finance to tell the Legislature that it should appropriate money to fund the increases; it would not have required the Legislature to actually provide the money.)

Case Title and Court Docket Number: PECG [and CAPS] v. Schwarzenegger, S183411

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: California Supreme Court, 10/4/10, 50 Cal.4th 989

Lawyer for CAPS/PECG: Gerald A. James

Result and Current Status: State employee unions (including CAPS and PECG) lose; California Supreme Court decision is final

Description: The California Supreme Court upheld the legality of mandatory furloughs based on implied approval of them by the Legislature in the 2008 state budget.

Case Title and Court Docket Number: PECG v. Kempton, S139917

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: California Supreme Court, 4/12/07, 40 Cal.4th 1016

Lawyers for PECG: Kelley Stimpel Martinez and James E. McGlamery

Result and Current Status: PECG loses; California Supreme Court decision is final

Description: PECG challenged DOT’s procedures for contracting out engineering work after the passage of Proposition 35 in the 2000 election. The California Supreme Court held that DOT’s contracting out procedures were valid.

Case Title and Court Docket Number: CAPS v. Schwarzenegger, C049928

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: Third District Court of Appeal, 3/6/06, 137 Cal.App.4th 371

Lawyer for CAPS: Gerald A. James

Result and Current Status: CAPS loses; California Supreme Court denied review; decision is final.

Description: CAPS challenged the adoption of a two-tier retirement system excluding new hires from PERS for the first two years of their employment. The court rejected CAPS’s claims that the new law was unconstitutional and/or violated the CAPS MOU.

Case Title and Court Docket Number: PECG v. State Personnel Board, C028402

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: Third District Court of Appeal, 7/11/01 (modified 8/10/01), 90 Cal.App.4th 678

Lawyers for PECG: Dennis F. Moss and Steven Bassoff

Result and Current Status: PECG loses in part; California Supreme Court denied review; decision is final.

Description: PECG (and other state employee unions not listed by name in the opinion, which may or may not have included CAPS) challenged the legality of the Career Executive Assignment program for filling high-level executive positions. The court rejected the claim that the program as a whole violated civil service law, but held that competitive (ranked) examinations must be held for transfers into CEA positions by non-CEA personnel, and the appointing authority must consider the results of those examinations.

Case Title and Court Docket Number: CAPS v. Department of Fish & Game, C023075 & C023184

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: Third District Court of Appeal, 4/10/00, 79 Cal.App.4th 935

Lawyer for CAPS: Dennis F. Moss

Result and Current Status: CAPS wins; California Supreme Court denied review; decision is final.

Description: An individual challenged a statute imposing a flat fee for environmental impact reviews of proposed projects, and setting a higher fee for reviews of projects that are claimed not to have any significant environmental impact. The individual settled with the Department of Fish & Game, and CAPS intervened, seeking to require the Department to continue collecting the fees. The court sided with CAPS, rejecting the individual’s claim that the fee was a tax that had to be adopted by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature. (Note that this case had no direct effect on the salaries, benefits, or rights of CAPS members. It may have had an indirect effect by maintaining Fish & Game’s ability to collect the fees, thereby adding to the budget. It is not clear from the court opinion, however, why CAPS felt it necessary to take on the burden of defending the employer’s right to charge money for its services.)

Case Title and Court Docket Number: PECG v. Wilson, C023360 & C023368

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: Third District Court of Appeal, 2/25/98 (modified 3/19/98), 61 Cal.App.4th 1013

Lawyers for PECG: Loren E. McMaster (and Harry J. Gibbons for CSEA)

Result and Current Status: PECG loses (mostly). Decision is final.

Description: PECG (joined by CSEA) claimed that funds in the State Highway Account (SHA) could not be transferred to the general fund in order to repay bonds issued for the development of passenger railways and public transit. (The transfers had contribute to budget shortfalls at the Department of Transportation (DOT), resulting in layoffs of some PECG and CSEA members who worked at DOT.) The court rejected PECG’s arguments for the most part, ruling that SHA funds not derived from gasoline taxes could properly be used to pay the bonds. As to SHA funds derived from gasoline taxes, the court agreed with PECG that these could not be used to pay the bonds. However, the court also held that PECG had only proved that a relatively small portion of the funds used to make payments on the bonds actually came from gasoline taxes. The court only ruled in PECG’s favor as to that portion of the funds ($12.3 million out of $77 million). (Note that this case had no direct effect on the salaries, benefits, or rights of PECG members. At best, it helped avoid a few layoffs by requiring the gasoline taxes to be returned to DOT’s budget.)

Case Title and Court Docket Number: PECG v. Department of Transportation, S042591

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: California Supreme Court, 5/15/97, 15 Cal.4th 543

Lawyer for PECG: Loren E. McMaster

Result and Current Status: PECG wins, but the effect of the court decision was later overturned by Proposition 35, passed in 2000.

Description: After the Legislature passed a statute allowing the Department of Transportation (DOT) to contract out work when necessary to get it done on time, DOT asked the court to set aside an earlier order prohibiting DOT from contracting out certain highway construction functions. The Supreme Court agreed with PECG that under the civil service laws, DOT was not allowed to contract out the work, and held that the new statute did not change that.

Case Title and Court Docket Number: PECG v. Department of Transportation, A057897

Court, Date of Decision, and Legal Citation: First District Court of Appeal, 2/17/93, 13 Cal.App.4th 585

Lawyer for PECG: Dennis F. Moss.

Result and Current Status: PEGC loses. California Supreme Court denied review; decision is final.

Description: PECG challenged DOT’s authority to lease rights-of-way to private companies to construct and operate toll roads. The court held that the law permitting DOT to enter into contracts for private toll roads was not unconstitutional and did not violate the civil service laws.

September 4, 2011 Posted by | CAPS HISTORY, CAPS/PECG lawsuits | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-CAPS Board member Lauren Wold view on Blanning & Baker

—–Original Message—–
From: Wold, Lauren
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2010 10:26 AM
To: Cosentino, Giorgio (CDPH-CID-DCDC-VRDL)
Subject: FW: Regarding CAPS

Hi Giorgio,

My experience with CAPS lead me to believe that it was a money making venture on the part of Blanning and Baker for Blanning and Baker rather
than a true representative organization working on behalf of the State Scientists. I came to this conclusion when it became evident to me that
Chris Voit and Matt Austin (I forget the correct spelling of their names) held a tight reign on the communications between the Board Members and the Board Members’ constituents. With the exception of my PHM co-workers at the State Lab, I was prevented from directly contacting the people whom I was representing. Many of the CAPS members I represented were employed somewhere other than 850 Marina Bay Parkway. Blanning and Baker had CAPS Members’ contact information but would not share this with me. I was told that if there was something I wanted to ask or say to the people in the district I represented I needed to go through the CAPS office or discuss it with the “Inner Circle” (my term for Matt A. and Chris V.). When I did bring up issues at the Board Meetings I was told condescendingly and in no uncertain terms “you are new here” and “we will deal with this”. But these issues that I knew and thought to be issues of concern, at least with PHMs at the State Lab were subsequently ignored and dropped. Also, when I brought up issues such as pay parity, safety at the workplace, reinstating the shuttle bus from the State Lab to BART there was never any discussion at the Board Meetings. All the other Board Members would simultaneously turn to look at Chris V. to hear what he would say which would usually be a vague response and dismissive . Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed with the other Board Members for not wanting to discuss what might be serious options or impediments to moving ahead with issues on concern. Pay and safety are everybody’s concern. The shuttle bus may have been unique to the State Lab employees but the employees elsewhere may benefit in the future with a similar situation. (We did get the shuttle back but it was not because of Blanning and Baker’s input. There were State employees, not even CAPS members, who were very hard working and effective in reinstating the shuttle.)

In my opinion Blanning and Baker ran CAPS in the manner of an oligarchy rather than a democracy where the Board Members and the monthly board  meetings gave the impression of a dynamic, interactive participatory organization. But, again, in my opinion, the “Inner Circle” called the shots and the Board Members were mere impotent figureheads either because they were satisfied enough just to be “in the club” or they were
intimidated by the “Inner Circle”.

Another thing that bothered me was how Blanning and Baker used our lobbyist. Lobbyist get paid big money. Our lobbyist got paid big money.  The amount is voted on by the Board Members “guided” by guess who… I felt that the general membership should be in on understanding what the lobbyist did, does and can do.  The few times the lobbyist came to speak to the Board Members he spent most of the time essentially gossiping about who in Sacramento eats at which restaurant, who is vacationing with whom, who has what kind of boat! I’m not joking! We need to hold him accountable and show us what he is doing on our behalf and prove that he is effective in the job we hired him to do.

Good luck, Giorgio.

Lauren

September 2, 2011 Posted by | CAPS HISTORY | , , , , | Leave a comment

Check elitism at the door!

Novemeber 12, 2010
Please forward to the CAPS board. 
At the DTSC CAPS site meeting last week Chris Voight took time to explain to the assembled that CAPS members are professionals, that many members have advanced degrees and that we are not like those other workers; in particular he referred to janitors and administrative workers.  Presumably we do not act like them and we struggle for our rights in a more refined manner!
This is not the first time I have heard this line of reasoning from of CAPS staffers.  Members should take offense at this attempt by our staff to separate CAPS members from, create an air of rarified elitism over, and there-by prevent solidarity in word and deed with, our co-workers who are janitors, admin staff and the like; most of whom may not have had the opportunity for the elevated level of education that CAPS members had access to. 
Luckily this embarrassing derogatory attitude was not embraced by the CAPS VP (Valarie Brown) who told us that she started as an administrative person herself.  Kudos to Valarie Brown for speaking to the issue of worker equality and not bowing to the elitist viewpoint that Chris has adopted. 
There is no room in the trade union movement for this type class-ism and our board should admonish CAPS staff to change their attitude or keep it to themselves.  Ultimately this type of class-ism prevents us from uniting with our natural allies and puts us in the camp of the elite the very bosses, bankers and speculators who own the politicians we have to negotiate with for our contract.  This attitude, on the part of our staff, indicates that staff has internalized the dominant ideology which drives a wedge separating the middle class and the traditional working class and, in turn use that separation to impose the austerity on us all  with out a fight.
This commentary by Chris Voight was Blanning and Baker’s way of telling us that our options, of how to fight against the attack on our wages and benefits, are limited to reliance on the courts and the politicians (the two failed options they are masters of).  Those may be the only options Blanning and Baker are capable of envisioning but they are not the only options.  Only a few weeks ago the RNs at Children’s Hospital in Oakland (many with advanced degrees and commanding salaries which might make State Scientists feel like janitors and administrative persons) took strike action for three days.  It is not unheard of for workers in similarly “rarified positions” and with advanced degrees to show a little muscle.
Despite CAPS staffers claim that they won the furlough case, it was pointed out from the floor, that in actuality the loss of over 60 days pay so far and ongoing furloughs,  indicates that the abstract paper win in the courts has translated in to concrete hardship for our members.   While parity issues were addressed as the perpetual legal battle they have become, no one mentioned that we have lost close to 18% for lack of COLA’s over the last 10 years.  Of course parity would be nice (if it is ever won) but regular COLA’s are essential!
When one rank and file member suggested that we press Jerry Brown to end the furloughs on his first day in office, Chris and the assembled board members admonished us to not pressure Brown or expect much from him as he is already under the right wing gun and media scrutiny for supposedly being in the pocket of the unions.  Ending the furloughs, we were told, is going to take time, a long time.  And again we were assured the furloughs are, in our legal expert opinion, illegal.  One might then ask, if they are indeed illegal, what’s would be the problem of insisting that the new governor abide the law?
One might also ask why did CAPS give support to a politician who we can’t even ask to take our cause immediately.  But it is clear why.  The CAPS staff and apparently the board have distain for any type of independent economic or political job action by the rank and file  worker members of CAPS which might confront the cozy relation the lobbyists have developed in Sacramento or threaten to by-pass the court based solutions which keep CAPS funds flowing to Blanning and Baker and which just lost us 60 days and counting of pay already.   
There were plenty of opportunities to build joint action with other state workers during the period of the furloughs.  If the State Scientists and Engineers (also under the influence of Blanning and Baker) took to the streets and mobilized their members these highly educated and relatively well paid workers would have inspired others and could have changed the dynamics but when other state workers marched on Sacramento, held pickets at state buildings and highway overpasses, reached out to the communities of public services and education which were being cut the CAPS leadership and staff  did nothing.  This is proof positive that the current staff and leadership has no winning strategy. 
As for the view that professionals don’t take job actions like those other lowly janitors and administration workers, consider the Doctors in Luxembourg :

“Doctors in Luxembourg continue protest against health reforms

Thousands of health workers may strike indefinitely in Luxembourg later this month. They are seeking to pressure the government to abandon its health reform. Members of the Association of Doctors and Dentists in Luxembourg (AMMD) trade union have worked half their normal hours in recent weeks. Their action began on October 22.

Medical workers are concerned that the reform, which gives the state greater control, would mean an end to patients being able to choose which doctor to visit. There is also fear over a proposal to place the personal details of patients into a national database.

On Wednesday, AMMD General Secretary Claude Schummer said that the members of the union would continue to provide reduced services. Representatives of the union had “unanimously decided to carry on with the strike but would not enhance the measures taken so far”, she said.”  http://www.WSWS.org

 Charles Rachlis

Associate Industrial Hygienist/

September 2, 2011 Posted by | CAPS HISTORY | , , , | Leave a comment