Second UE Contract at Lanterman Regional Center Demonstrates “Immeasurable Value in Unionizing”

July 12, 2022

Members of UE Local 1018 will see potential pay increases of almost 20 percent over the next three years, thanks to their second UE contract — plus a one-time bonus equal to three percent of their annual wages. Local 1018 members work at the Lanterman Regional Center, coordinating critical services for individuals with developmental disabilities by providing social work, advocacy, and services that help support their clients as they work towards independence in the community.

The new contract adds three additional steps for each job classification during the duration of the contract, and provides for cost-of-living increases of 4.5, 3 and 3 percent over the three years. Workers who receive the full 3 percent step increases (which are based on job performance) will see combined increases of 7.5, 6, and 6 percent.

Vacation accrual will increase by a quarter of an hour per pay period, from 4.75 to 5 hours for those with up to 48 months of seniority and from 6.25 to 6.5 hours for those with 49 and more months. The maximum accrual will also increase significantly, from 155 to 200 total hours and from 204 to 300 total hours, respectively. All personal and vacation time can now be used in one-hour increments instead of two hours.

The bilingual pay differential — a benefit fought for and won during Local 1018’s first contract struggle — is increased to $55 per pay period, and new language allows current workers in eligible positions to take or retake the bilingual test within 30 days following ratification. If the worker passes the test the second time, they will receive the bilingual differential retroactive to the date of the test. Workers who did not pass the test will only need to retake the test in the section or sections they failed.

The contract also adds two new holidays: Juneteenth and Cesar Chavez Day, a state holiday in California honoring the legacy of the farmworkers’ union leader on March 31. This brings the total number of holidays to 13.

Some measures in the contract address unreasonable caseloads. Overtime may now be offered to workers to hold meetings for caseloads that are “vacant” due to short staffing, and the contract adds some new remote work opportunities — a major issue for Local 1018 members.

“It was very disheartening to be told by the boss that we were not doing our jobs while we worked from home during the pandemic,” said Local 1018 Financial Secretary Elizabeth Fuster, a member of the negotiating committee. “I think we overcame a very challenging time considering all that was happening in the world. We initially did not have the necessary tools or protocols in place when we started working from home, and I think we did as much as we could under the circumstances. We may have not fully won the right to have remote work every day, but I am very proud to have participated in advocating for my fellow workers to make strides towards a better work environment, more pay, more benefits and to at least have some remote work.”

As the local was bargaining over the contractual ability to work remotely, the committee asked members to write statements describing how they are more productive when they work from home. Over 70 percent of the bargaining unit also signed a petition calling for remote work.

Following ratification and a virtual board meeting which many Local 1018 members attended to talk about how unreasonable their caseloads are, the board voted to pay everyone an additional bonus equal to three percent of their annual wages (on top of the wage gains in the contract).

“I am extremely satisfied with the new contract, particularly with the option of remote work, cost of living increase, additional steps, and additional vacation accrual. With inflation these improvements will really be beneficial to us,” said Local 1018 member Tamar Meguerian.

Margarita Villasenor added that her colleagues “are delighted with the wins in this contract. We have seen the most recent surveys indicating that more than $140,000.00 is needed to live happily in the State of California. The cost of living in our state is outrageous. While we are not close to reaching this salary, we are proud of the benefits our bargaining team won for us.

“What came of no surprise, however devastating it is to us, is the divisive and disgraceful strategy used by Lanterman to oppose our support staff being granted equal and fair remote work opportunities. We recognize this was their cold tactic to continue manipulating some of our members and demoralize our spirit. Yet this last contract proved us to be a stronger UE1018 and we acknowledge the immeasurable value in unionizing. We will continue to fight so that all our members will be considered and treated as equally valuable.”

The Local 1018 negotiating committee consisted of Vice President Kirsis Morillo, Financial Secretary Elizabeth Fuster, and Recording Secretary Linda Mnatsakanyan. They were assisted by Field Organizer Marc Baca and Staff Coordinator Kim Lawson.

This article was updated on 9/12/22 to clarify the meaning of “vacant caseloads.”


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