Rank and File Scientists Demanding our Rights



On January 9th, 2014,  during the hearing at PERB in case # SACO 4645, CAPS President David Miller was asked why the organization’s Bylaws and Policy Manual were changed in 2011 and why they had been disregarded for over a decade.  President Miller explained the changes were made to make the document clearer.  When pressed on what clarity the board was trying to arrive at, Miller explained that it was “ridiculous” to hold regular annual membership meetings.  He explained that member’s concerns could be freely addressed to the board at the quarterly executive board meetings in person, in writing, or via a district representative.

What Miller was not able to escape from is the fact that, ridiculous or not, the current leadership of CAPS in collusion with and under the advice of the executive director (Blanning and Baker LLC) and legal counsel (Gerald James) have, for years, denied the membership regular and annual meetings, which have been required by the CAPS Bylaw, the CAPS Policy Manual and the California Corporate Code (CCC).  In fact, a careful reading of the revised 2011 bylaws and policy manual reveals that regular membership meetings  are still required (which conforms with the CCC, although annual meetings were erased from the Bylaws and Policy Manual in February 2011.)   The requirement for regular membership meetings in the CCC indicates 15 months as the first of regular intervals for “regular membership meetings.”

Were it not for the long term inability of the CAPS leadership and CAPS agents to protect Unit 10 members’ salaries from the consequences of compounded inflation vs. years with no cost of living adjustments, members would hardly be concerned with how CAPS is run.  But today, two weeks before negotiations open, Unit 10 rank and file members are expressing their lack of confidence in the CAPS leadership and the CAPS agents and legal team. Workers, long denied regular membership meetings, are booking rooms and meeting on their own without the leadership.  Workers have initiated letter writing and petition campaigns: workers have openly discussed decertification, rescission, and severance as options.  Workers are no longer waiting for CAPS to act; they are beginning to act on their own.  This is a promising sign.  It will take the democratic participation of the rank and file to sweep away the dead wood and build an organization that can win the workers’ demands in negotiations.   If that organization will be CAPS or a new formation is truly in the hands of the current leadership.  As of now workers do not see CAPS as a worker’s organization.  Indeed, one 28-year CAPS member wrote us saying, “we need a union to protect us from the union!”

If the leadership continues to play footsie with the Democratic Party (and in cases with the Republicans), giving gobs of our dues dollars to the candidates, the lobbyists and the lawyers while neglecting to build rank and file organization and democracy, the consequent  defeat (in the upcoming negotiations) will drive Unit 10 members to seek alternatives and other organizational  affiliations.

To turn the situation around, CAPS must convene immediate emergency membership meetings at all campuses, form up action committees at each  section and unit where Unit 10 members work and prepare united job actions to impress on HR how serious our members are.   Without the serious threat of job actions by the membership our negotiators look like beggars with their hands out, rather than our true advocates convinced of the resolve of the membership and prepared to exert our collective strength.

January 9th the Governor released his proposed budget and there were no raises for the Unit 10 rank and file indicated.  Supervisors, on the other hand, found some indication that their pay parity concerns would be met.   For the rank and file to win it requires that we act now to assure that the CAPS negotiators do not come back to us with a Tentative Agreement equivalent to the SEIU 1000 concessionary contract that gained only 1.6% per year, and which does not cover the losses to pension and medical insurance premium increases, and will leave many workers with smaller checks than before the furloughs started 4 years ago.

Membership meetings are not ridiculous!  Membership meetings are where members chart their course, develop strategy and organize the membership for action.  What is ridiculous is the long-term failed strategy of the CAPS leadership, which has resulted in most Unit 10 members being 30% behind their peers in municipal employment and private industries.  What is ridiculous is to think that a board that sequesters itself out of sight of the membership for decades, which demobilizes the membership, denies the members their rights, and is oblivious to the fact that most members hate the organization, can win us our long overdue pay parity.

Rachlis went to PERB not only to get the second illegal expulsion expunged, but to learn from CAPS President David Miller the true belief of the current leadership-that worker’s democracy-that holding regular membership meetings is “ridiculous”!

But if history is a guide playing footsie with the politicians will not win our demands; it will take a rank and file upsurge to win!  Time is working against us but if CAPS acts now it could convene membership meetings at every job site next week and have informational pickets and press conferences across the state immediately in preparation for the negotiations.    For Unit 10 to win pay parity the rank and file must run the organization themselves!

January 11, 2014 Posted by | CAPS 2013 Contract negotiations | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



Union members met on May 1st 2012 before marching down Broadway to City Hall.

For Matt Austin this is a no…no!

On April, 30th Matt Austin, Blanning and Baker partner and agent for CAPS scabbed against the rank and file by demanding that management stop Unit 10 Rank and Filers, CAPS members, expelled CAPS members and contract scientists at CDPH from holding an organizing meeting. But the workers of CDPH prevailed, WE WILL HOLD OUR MEETING! We will  discuss how to win  a fair contract and build a democratic union. 

As ever Matt Austin is responsible for attempting to prevent CAPS members meeting.  Not that he is the only one to prevent CAPS members from meeting, but he is always one of those who do!  Each and every time he is always one of those who do.

CAPS president David Miller promised in his election campaign literature that he would hold regular membership meetings. But the real power controlling CAPS, Blanning and Baker LLC., will put up with none of that!  CAPS has not had a legally mandated regular membership meeting in over 12 years!  And we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of David Miller or Matt Austin at the CDPH laboratories since long before the election.

Labor organizations, or any organization that is not a fiction holds regular meetings.  Does CAPS hold regular membership meetings?  NO! Well we are going to hold a meeting. We call on state scientists to initiate job site meeting across the state!  Organize the contract workers make a state service union wall to wall!

President Miller plays footsie  and  poses regularly for photos with Democratic Party politicians (see back page pictures in the CAPSULE.)   But he runs from convening regular annual CAPS membership meetings because the leadership is afraid the membership will build a democratic union a throw out the parasitic labor leaches those corporate profiteers Blanning and Baker LLC.


CAPS gave Brown’s Campaign 53K then he prolonged the illegal furloughs then imposed Schwarzenegger’s concessionary contract on us!  CAPS leadership caved in without a fight!



Meeting initiated by the  CAPS FIGHTING UNION CAUCUS  open to all Rank and File working Scientists                                                                                               (415) 205-0359

May 4, 2013 Posted by | CAPS 2013 Contract negotiations | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Sisters and Brothers:
The Caps Fighting Union Caucus continues our fight for reinstatement. On July 27th  Charles Rachlis will argue that CAPS must reinstate the expelled members (both candidates in the last election) or continue to act as scofflaws.  These arguments will be heard  at the PERB hearing in Oakland at 1330 Broadway at 10 a.m.  Trade Unionists, Occupy labor solidarity activists, and other working class advocates are invited to attend this public hearing. 
In preparation for the PERB hearing  our spokesperson will be on Work Week Radio  KPFA  94.1 fm Monday July 23rd during the 8am hour.
It has been eight months since CAPS President David Miller advanced from board member to President. When he ran for office he promised to convene regular membership meetings.  To date there has not been a regular membership meeting for over 12 years(one where members can put items on the agenda, all the meetings held have been informational not the legally mandated regular membership meetings.) 
David Miller promised to fight for pay equity.  Yet last month, without a vote of the membership, he gave back 4.6% accepting his role in enforcing the austerity on the backs of his co-workers. 
We campaigned on a program that stated CAPS has a failed strategy and tactics for defending the membership and today they continue their failed methods.
In order to silence the opposition slate President Miller and Vice President Velez held an illegal kangaroo court to expel candidates Rachlis and Cosentino from the organization. 
They can expel the opposition but they can not resolve the crisis of leadership in CAPS and we continue to expose why and fight for Unit 10 and Unit 9 workers to throw off the yoke of the profit takers of Blanning and Baker LLC who run CAPS and PECG for the purpose of the enrichment of their partners: Bruce Blanning, Matt Austin & Chris Voight (there may be others.)  These partners make profit from the dues base of our memberships.  Ask Austin, Blanning or Voight what is their compensation for taking our dues dollars and pretending to represent us.  Guess what they don’t have to tell you!  
Ask yourself is it right that State workers dues are used for the enrichment of a private corporation which can not deliver a regular COLA to keep our wages abreast of inflation, who can not protect us from furloughs (despite the fact that large portions of our funding comes from outside the State general fund,) who can not win us pay parity with the counties, who can not win us geographic pay differentials, who lost us 2 holidays for two years, who refuse to abide the bylaws, the policy manual and California Corporate Code?
Below is the information we have provided the radio producer and will elaborate on during the interview.
1)    Democratic and Republican, politicians, servants of Wall Street and Finance Capital, have mounted a campaign to impose austerity on the working class.  To do this they attack the last bastion of unionized workers the public workers.  In CA there are 1.5 million of us close to 180,000 of us work for the state of California.  We are organized into unions that operate under the auspices of the Dills Act signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 1978. The Personal Employees Relations Board (PERB) oversees The enforcement of the Dills Act which grants  public workers unions their right to organize.
2)    In 2009 the state imposed three years of furloughs on state workers resulting in a 15% cut in pay for two years followed by a 4.6% cut in pay for one year including a shift of the pension costs an additional 3% off of the employer and onto the workers and an additional one year of 4.6% furlough starting this July  2012.  State workers wages have not kept up with inflation.  NO COLA means we have lost 18% of our purchasing power over the last 10 years!
3)      Our unions’ leaderships operate on behalf of the 1% lying to the membership: first by telling us that we should be willing to “share the pain”  then by telling us we can win a fair contract and defeat the furloughs by suing the government, then by telling us we can count on and should fund the very same Democratic and Republican politicians who are imposing the austerity on us.  The intention of these labor skates is to prevent independent labor action, the formation of a workers party, the building of labor solidarity and the spreading of a general strike movement.  Their job is to contain the frustrated masses of the labor movement in the safe electoral system; they work to demobilize the energized masses into endless repetition of a failed electoral strategy like they did in Wisconsin and keep labor loyal to the capitalist Democratic Party.  They tell the workers,  “don’t use your strike power, don’t fight Taft-Hartly don’t form your own party, don’t reorganize the economy in your own interest, ignore your class interests, keep giving your money and energy to the capitalist Democrats, count on the “good heartedness” of the “friends of labor.”  These lies keep the workers in the trap and prevent us from using our economic power!
4)    Our union is the worst type of union it is a corporate union.  It was not organized by the workers and the members have no say in the organization.  CAPS like PECGS before it were organized by a private corporation with the intent of using public workers dues dollars to amass their own personal fortunes…all legal of course.  Unlike thousands of other unions in the USA CAPS and PECGS are independent which means workers who find themselves in conflict with the corporation have no recourse higher than the executive board.  In unions with International affiliations workers with issues can take them to the District Council, the State Convention or the International convention.  In CAPS workers have no recourse and quickly find themselves either abandoned by  or sold out by staff.
5)    In real unions there are regular membership meetings.  CAPS has not had a regular membership meeting in 12 years.  This violates both the bylaws of the organization and the California Corporate Code (CCC) under which Mutual Benefit Non Profit Corporations (like CAPS and HOAs) function.  For lack of regular membership meetings alternative strategies and tactics for fighting the austerity can not be discussed by the membership.
6)    For lack of meetings we formed the CAPS Fighting Union Caucus to introduce a class struggle program to the membership.  We did this by running a slate of candidates on our program.
7)    When we ran for office we found out that our electoral statements were both limited in length and censored.  We requested email, phone or address membership lists or mailing labels (as per CCC) but were refused access.  At the union office I was blocked at the door and charged with harassment, a charge ultimately laughed out of SF Superior Court!
8)    We won 25% of the vote and were then charged with harassing the staff, calling for decertification and spamming the membership’s e-mails and two of the three of our slate were expelled from the union. 
9)    We go to the PERB hearing this week July 27th where we will show the class role of the PERB, we will show how they were created by the 1%’s politicians to give limited rights to workers organizations and to funnel our dues dollars to their campaigns coffers.  We will show how the corporation that profits off our dues and  the union leaders are in bed with the very politicians whom they sit across the negotiation table from. We will show the conflict of interest that prevents our union’s agents and leadership from representing the interests of the rank and file!  We are fighting to be reinstated into CAPS, we are mobilizing workers to declared null and void the prior election, to hold a new election, to assure uncensored statements be sent to the membership, to assure that membership lists be provided to candidates, and that the union severs its ties with the profit takers contracted as staff.  This can only be done by a functioning democratic union so we fight first and foremost for regular membership meetings! Only when we achieve basic democracy for Unit 10 and Unit 9 workers can we address the inadequacies of the current class collaborationist strategies and tactics.

July 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments