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



As our contract period comes to a close the Miller/Valez leadership has done nothing to prepare the membership for the contract fight. They continue to believe that their “Chump change” contributions to the Democrats ($1,000 per head to assemblymen and senators) and $53K to the Brown Campaign will buy the influence needed to navigate the upcoming contract negotiations.

Indeed it will, if you don’t put COLA’s on the agenda, if you don’t demand make up pay for additional contributions to medical and pension, if your not serious enough to really fight for pay parity then the current conciliatory leadership will skate through just fine! They will say the negotiations were tough but they did the best they could and come out with something similar to if not less than what SEIU gets!

The membership will fall further and further behind. BUT THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN!

These leaders gave up three years of furloughs without a fight despite happily funding their lawyers and agents payroll! The current leadership does not prepare scientists doing the states work for this contract and in so doing they prepare for defeat.

To win we must set up contract action committees at each job site develop our demands by democratic discussion among all rank and file scientists both locally and coordinated state-wide then we must vote down anything short of what is develop in democratic rank and file meetings.


Since this statement (see post above) was sent to a small list of Unit 10 workers, the room was booked and the leaflets were posted. Since then the profit takers of Blanning and Baker have been working overtime to protect their profit center (CAPS) from cutting them loose and running their own affairs.

To prevent democracy from breaking out in unit 10 they have gone to management to force facilities to prevent the rank and file scientists from holding their own meetings in a facility room despite the fact that Blue Shield, Scientific equipment vendors, Toast-Masters, SEIU, Weight-Watchers etc all use facilites with no charge and no objection. THE ONLY PEOPLE NOT ALLOWED TO USE FACILITES ROOMS ARE THE RANK AND FILE WORKERS IN THE FACILITY!

THIS ATTEMPT TO CONTROL THE WORKERS BY BLANNING AND BAKER AND THE MILLER/VALEZ TEAM IN COLUSION WITH MANAGEMENT IS A VIOLATION OF WORKERS DEMOCRACY. This behavior shows exactly how the CAPS leadership is working hand in hand with management to prevent the membership from meeting and charting a democratic course forward into the contract negotiations.

Rank and File Scientists will hold our meeting on Tuesday May 7th. It may not be in C-140 as originally planned, it may be in a Cafeteria, in the hallway, on the lawn directly outside the Auditorium at C building, in the picnic area waterfall of building P or another place of our choosing. For information come to C-140 or check the break room near your work area.

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



 The incumbent slate of the CAPS leadership has their collective heads  buried in the sand so far that they can not see the world changing in front of them.   The fighting union caucus slate has been admonished for addressing issues beyond the presumed limited interest of state scientists.  We are told by the incumbents that CAPS’only interest is our pay, wages and benefits.  This would be laudable if indeed the incumbents methodology was able to deliver.  But it is not.  If it was their method would have worked by now.  So all they have to offer is more of the same.  Give our money to the politicians who are in the pockets of the billionaires, refuse to link up with the rest of organized labor and the working class who are in the same boat as us,  use the power of the board to deny members democratic rights, and keep the money flowing to Blanning and Baker LLc.

Theirs is a formula for failure.  They claim the fighting union caucus wants to launch the class struggle.  No, we do not have the forces to launch it rather, we recognize it as  reality! As  billionaire Warren Buffet said over two years ago, “we are in a class war and my side is winning….although it should not be.”  The current leadership does not see the fact that the class struggle has been launched against us and they are ignoring it.

 Look across America and the world today,  tens of thousands of working people and their unions have joined the # Occupy Wall Street# movement.  SEIU 1000 president endorsed #Occupy Sacramento#.  Of course she did nothing to mobilize the SEIU membership but we do not expect anything from her except platitudes.  The question is why has SEIU 1199 (NY hospital workers), the NY Transit workers union (TWU) and  across the county local unions are endorsing these actions?  Because the rank and file are fed up and are demanding action.  The trade union leaders are playing catch up like they did in Wisconsin.  Business and corporate unionism has a job they do for the bosses  and that job is to keep the cork in the bottle and put it back in when ever it pops.  To defuse the uprising in Wisconsin the sell out trade union leaders fought back the call for General Strike coming from the rank and file and corralled the movement back into petition campaigns to unseat Republicans and replace them with Democrats.  It worked in Wisconsin and they hope to do it again., Van Jones, and Yvonne Walker all have signed on to the #Occupy everywhere# movement with the hope of preparing for the 2012 election by defusing the movement into the Obama campaign which will be starved for troops because he turned his back on the workers after being elected facing and embracing the bankers instead.

 The incumbent slate in CAPS does not see that our fight must link the CAPS scientists struggle for a fair contract to the struggle of all working people.  In NYC on Wednesday the Doctors and Nurses joined the massive demonstration and called for “Free health care for all”.  The front line practitioners of medical science unabashedly call for Single payer and universal health care but the Scientists of CAPS are told by the incumbents this is not an issue for CAPS members.  Millions have lost their homes and almost all mortgages today are held by or backed by the US government but CAPS leaders tell us foreclosures are not a CAPS members issue.  Woman’s right to abortion and child care, jobs for all, free quality education, are issues that the bankers political parties have been attacking but CAPS gives these political parties money!  By giving them money you are taking a political position.  So when incumbents tell you these are not CAPS issues we have to ask they why do you fund politicians who act on them!  These politicians act against the interest of the working class and labor just a quickly as they take the CAPS  donation, pocket it and ignore us!  




Occupy Oakland begins Monday at 4pm.  Occupy Portland, Washington D.C., SF and LA are already underway!  The ruling class is starting to freak out as EGYPT comes to AMERICA!  CAPS leaders can bury their heads in the sand but that is not leadership!

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Charles Rachlis


 VP CANDIDATE CHARLES RACHLIS YOU TUBE CAMPAIGN VIDEOS:  Two methods of trade unionism face off in the CAPS election United Public Workers for Action forum Sept 22, 2011 Sacramento.  CRITIQUE OF UNDEMOCRATIC PROCEDURES IN CAPS    Further elaboration of undemocratic experiences in CAPS  Beginning of elaboration  of Action plan   Follow up on Action Plan Blanning and Baker Thug H. Mattson Austin Laughed out of court in case against CAPS member Charels Rachlis Indy Media coverage of Austin vs. Rachlis and Baker’s court strategy fails again: and PECG appeared as “friends of the court” in this furlough-related appeal by the prison guards union. The union won in the trial court (the trial court ruling was issued before the Cal. Supremes torpedoed most of the anti-furlough arguments), but lost on appeal – before three of the judges with the most “liberal” reputation in the First District.All our posts are at

October 7, 2011 Posted by | CAPS election 2011 | , , , , , , , , | 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



Subject: CAPS Rank and File fighting union election Bulletin #2

Brother and Sister CAPS members,

Last November the CAPS board and Staffers ran their little dog and pony show across the state to sell to the membership the very same rotten contract we rejected just three months earlier in straw polls at the informational summer meetings.   I made interventions at the meetings in an attempt to persuade the membership to reject the rotten contract.  But to do so I had to fight for the right to address the membership and put a discussion of strategy and tactics on the agenda.  This should not be such a hard thing for a member  of a union to accomplish but I found out that indeed this organization has been manipulated to prevent any one member from  putting any union business before the other 2,500-3,000 members.  I also found out that others had tried before and been driven out of the organization.

In review of that episode find attached find a compendium of communications produced during the November meetings.  In particular we reproduce a letter entitled “Check Elitism at the Door” a response to the viewpoint of Chris Voight that scientists are superior beings, heads above the lowly working class and therefore too elite to engage in class struggle, better for us to let the lawyers fight for us.  And even more interesting we reproduce a letter from Lauran Wold an ex CAPS board member who came to the realization that CAPS is little more than a trough from which Blanning and Baker drinks.  Also included in the compendium are reports from two of the three informational meetings I attended in the Bay Area.  Most interesting was a statement from CAPS board member David Miller that no one pays attention to the bylaws.   Well that really got my goat!

So after my pointing out how their refusal to abide the bylaws was a breech of contractual agreement, a breech a fiduciary responsibility, and a theft from the members of dues by denial of rights, the board (most likely under the influence of  Blanning and Baker in the guise of Austin and Voight)   amended the 2007 bylaws last February without telling the membership in hope that no one would notice what had been stolen from us.  As I suggested yesterday call or email CAPS and ask for your own copy of the 2007 and 2011 bylaws and read them side by side.

The CAPS FIGHTING UNION CAUCUS is against suing the union because we believe labor needs to clean its own house.  But we have no objection to CAPS suing Blanning and Baker’s appointed Executive Director and the entire  firm both individually and collectively for breech of fiduciary responsibility and denial of our rights for 10 years while taking our money and directing it to their coffers.  The way I figure it, at approximately 1.5 million a year, for ten years of theft of services, they owe us near about 15 million dollars.   That would really start a nice fat job action fund!

But I digress,  when I first heard about the meetings in Summer and fall of 2010  I expected them to be the 2007 bylaws mandated annual membership meetings.  But much to my surprise I found out that they were informational meetings, which members could ask questions at but not set agenda points during.

I should have had a clue about the lack of democracy when I first joined CAPS.  Six months into my membership I called the office and said, “I’m a new member, I can see we are heading into a catastrophic situation that the membership needs to address, when is the next membership meeting?”  The reply I got was, “we don’t have anything to tell you at this time” and then I got the long song and dance about the pay parity case and how it was going.  It crossed my mind to say, “maybe the membership has something to say to you” but I was new and just feeling things out and did not want to step on any toes at the time.  But as I got more familiar with the membership and got a copy of the 2007 bylaws and financial statements it started to become clear to me what CAPS has become, or what is was created to be, a funnel taking scientists money and giving it to Blanning and Baker at the rate of close to 1.5 million dollars a year.

To keep this little racket going Blanning and Baker LLC  had to steal our bylaws mandated rights and convince members of the board that bylaws don’t matter. In so doing this law firm has devalued our labor year after year by signing contracts without COLA’s conceding on furloughs (now PLDs), increasing our contributions to pensions and medical all without a fight.  How did they get away with it?

Blanning and Baker staff and CAPS leadership push the position that scientists are not workers, that somehow, according to Chirs Voight  we (See  attached letter* “Check elitism at the door”), are too prestigious to get our hands dirty in the class struggle and that the only option we had was to go along with what Governor Brown had to offer (basically the Schwarzenegger contract), the membership accepted the  same rotten deal we had rejected  a few months earlier.

We see this as a sign of resignation and demoralization because the members did not have leadership with a strategy and tactics capable of defeating the lies of the top 0.01% and their bought and paid for media pundits who offer a dialog that spans the entire alphabet from A-B (CNN-FOX).  Listening to these corporate paid pundits our leadership and staff laments the “fact” that the public hates us.  Despite the fact that more scientific polls show the public is on our side.    Miscalculating the public viewpoint, and relieved that they do not have to do more than sell the membership concessionary contracts and more lawsuits, CAPS (Blanning and Baker) staff threw in the towel and protested when workers (at the DTSC meeting) demanded that we hold Brown to his perceived pro-labor image.

The CAPS FIGHTING UNION CAUCUS has commenced on a campaign to end the domination of CAPS by a law firm which is both incapable of serving our interests and dedicated to taking our dues into their balance sheet.  Please call CAPS or write the office and ask for a record of financial statements for the duration of your membership.  The staff is obligated to make those records available to you.  What you will see is that your dues money has been sustaining the Blanning and Bakers habitual need to go to court.  Despite loosing case after case Blanning and Baker never actually loose.   Why?  Because they get paid at our expense despite loosing.  There is a term that defines the behavior of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!  It is called insanity.

But we have a choice keep the current leadership and the thieves of Blanning and Baker in place or lift ourselves out of our B&B imposed apathy and miasma and organize unit by unit, job site by job site and form a democratic CAPS capable of uniting with the 1.5 million public workers in California to defend our rights and working conditions against the  interests of the 84 California billionaires who are laughing all the way to the bank while your 401k’s evaporate!   The choice is yours organize or watch the top 0.01% strip us bare while Blanning and Baker shrug their shoulders and say,”that’s the best we could do.”

We still need people to step forward and take the lead by running for office.  You have until August 26th to get a petition with 10 CAPS members’ signatures on it to run for office.

If you find this discussion of value please forward it to other CAPS members around the state.



Charles Rachlis for the CAPS FIGHTING UNION CAUCUS

*This was orginally an email so we will post Check Elitism at the Door and the other referenced documents check the archive to the right.

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