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California National Guard
Local 2163 Gets Mixed Signals as Management Team Uses Delay Tactics to Stall Contract Negotiations
by Ben Banchs
Sacramento, CA (June 22, 2012) – A much anticipated week of contract negotiations turned adversarial quickly as it became clear from the onset that the California National Guard Management team was unwilling to negotiate in good faith (Ref. 5 USC 7114(b)) and submit to a process which had been in the pipeline for well over a year. The distance between the two groups widened immediately after convening at 8:00am at the Okinawa Armory on June 19, 2012, the first day of negotiations. Things deteriorated so quickly that the Union team considered walking away from the negotiating table and filing a complaint with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) for Management's failure to adhere to good faith principles. In the end the parties managed to make some very small progress, but the vast ocean of differences (both technical and personal) that emerged between the parties proved too big to overcome. This was an unfortunate and unprecedented turn of events since the Union team was under the impression that MG David Baldwin's representatives were fully prepared to sit with the Union and hash out a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA, a.k.a. the Union contract).

Rather than dive into the contract proposal submitted by the Union last February 2012, Management's team decided to revisit topics which the Union thought had already been agreed to previously. The first action taken by Management during the negotiation session was to challenge the number of Union representatives allowed in the room and whether or not they were going to be granted Official Time. This was an issue that was and should have been handled well in advanced of meeting to negotiate. Regardless, Management's team pressed ahead with trying to exclude and deny Official Time to certain members of the Union's team. After wasting almost an entire day on the size and role of those present in the room, the Union put the issue to rest by producing a Management Memo composed by the Labor Relations Specialist (not even a week old) authorizing Official Time to those present. The fact that that same Labor Relations Specialist was in the room the entire time the debate was taking place was even more puzzling since she could have easily settled the matter and we could have moved on to the business at hand.

Once the issue of Official Time was settled, Management proceeded to attempt to end contract negotiations by stating that they felt the changes that the Union was proposing were too many, and that they did not see the need for expanding the current contract from 20-something pages to over 100. At that point the Management team counter-proposed that the Union agree not to make any changes to the current agreement, a move which baffled the Union team considering that Management has know for well over a year that the Union was intent on re-negotiating the entire document. You really have to wonder what MG Baldwin's staff was thinking.

First, from a common sense perspective, if the Union was willing to keep the current agreement and not make any changes why would we have requested to open negotiations over a year ago (Ref. April 2011 Memo), and why would we have spent countless hours putting together the Union's change proposal? If the current CBA was properly addressing the issues that concern CARNG Technicians then we would gladly let it ride.

Second, it's not as if Management didn't know that the Union would be proposing so many changes and modifications to the current agreement. For over a year now we have indicated to both MG Baldwin and his staff (both in person and in writing) that the Union intended to make significant changes to the CBA because the current agreement is either too ambiguous or fails to address critical areas of Technician employment. For them to show up and not just propose but demand that the agreement stay the same signals a huge disconnect between the Adjutant General's office and what's happening in the trenches.

Third, from a fiscally responsible perspective, if Management was either unwilling or unprepared to negotiate the contract, why would they spend thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on this process? Aside from the actual week we met for negotiations from June 19-22, Management had granted each Union representative involved in the negotiations 120-hours of Official Time in order to prepare for this event. This equals a total of more than 800 man hours allowed to Union team members to prepare prior to the actual week of negotiations. Even if you do a conservative estimate of $25 per hour, you're talking over $20,000 worth of man hours just to prepare for contract negotiations, and this is just for the Union representatives. Then, during the actual week of negotiations, Union officials not only received Official Time, but also travel and lodging expenses. Using the $25 per man-hour estimate, that's another $7,000 not including travel, which would easily put this over $30,000, and not including what it cost Management to be there. Their man-hour expenses are surely to be higher since they are all GS-12 and above. Add $5000 for the use of a contracted stenographer and let's just say, conservatively, that it cost between $50k - $75k to prepare and convene for one week of negotiations, maybe more. Then consider the fact that we managed to actually agree to 3 pages out of a 101-page proposal. Using the conservative cost estimate above, that's almost $17,000 per page on the low side! Also, if things don't speed-up, and if it takes 4 days to agree to 3 pages of language, at this rate then it'll take a total of 134 days to finalize a new agreement, and no telling how much more taxpayer money! 

The disappointing part for the Union team is that from the very first meeting that took place between MG Baldwin and Union representatives in 2011, it has always been our impression that the General is definitely on board with improving the sour relationship that existed between Union and Management. We believe it is MG Baldwin's intent to make sure that his staff understand he sees the Union as a partner not an adversary. These impressions are based on MG Baldwin's own statements and certain actions which he has consistently taken regarding issues that the Union has brought to his attention. From our perspective, there is a very obvious disconnect between the man in charge and the people he's counting on to do their jobs. 

In any event, barring any unexpected changes, we have agreed to a second week of contract negotiations to take place in November of this year. The Union is prepared to sit at the negotiating table and work on a new agreement. The question is whether Management will be ready, willing, and able to fulfill their duty to negotiate in good faith.

Cesar Chavez said that "once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” What's taking place within the California National Guard is exactly that, social change, and it won't be reversed.

As the Union has become more involved over the last year-and-a-half, the number of members has nearly doubled to approximately 425, or 50% of total Army Technicians. Our influence is being seen and felt at all levels, from our most junior member all the way to the Adjutant General's office. Part of that social change is the re-negotiation of the Union contract; this is the document that sets the ground rules for how Management is allowed to treat employees, and it is our right to negotiate this agreement. One way or another it will get done. It's up to Management to join us in this process so that we can craft an agreement that sets the benchmark for all other States and Territories in all of the National Guard. 


1. Local 2163 began the process of requesting that management renegotiate the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (aka the Union Contract) last April 2011.

2. During our meeting with MG Baldwin on June 16, 2011, we discussed the pending contract negotiations and the General indicated much support for the process.

3. At Management's request, negotiations which were supposed to initially begin in November 2011 were first delayed to January 2012 for no other reason than lack of preparation on Management's part. Some of this delay has been due to personnel changes and challenges that MG Baldwin had been trying to sort out in the Human Resources Office (HRO), a matter which the Union completely understood and worked with Management to sort through.

4. The Union was ready to go to the negotiation table in January when in late December 2011 we received notice that negotiations would have to be delayed further. We did not initially agree, and when Management attempted to schedule dates without our concurrence, we let them know that we did not want to move forward because they had not taken the necessary and proper steps to begin negotiations. Eventually, they agreed to meet to sign ground rules. See email traffic here.

5. It was finally agreed that we would would meet at the Okinawa Armory on February 17, 2012, to sign the Memorandum of Agreement required to initiate contract negotiations, and to exchange contract proposals. All this time we were under the impression that negotiations would begin February 27, 2012, per the notification we had received from MSgt James Patton. However, when we showed up to the Armory we were informed by Management that not only were they going to arbitrarily move negotiations back to an unspecified date, but that they also did not have a contract proposal ready for us. However, in good faith, we agreed to their request based on the fact that they had just appointed MSgt Amber Bambaloff as Labor Relations Chief, and she was a by-the-book person. See email traffic here.

6. After much back and forth, the parties officially agreed to enter contract negotiations on June 19, 2012. It is interesting to note that at the February 17, 2012, meeting at the Okinawa Armory the Union hand-delivered our entire 101-page contract proposal to MSgt Bambaloff, a full 4 months prior to negotiations actually starting. This is important because even if they claim they had no idea prior to this meeting, Management now knew full well what the Union's intention was, which was to make significant changes. The fact is they had been knowing since at least December 2011 when they were told in no uncertain terms that the Unions intention was to model California's new CBA after Louisiana. At that time, representatives from the CNG Labor Relations Office reached out to their Louisiana counterparts asking to get a copy of their CBA. The point here being that for Management to show up to the Okinawa Armory on June 2012 and stall negotiations in the manner that they did was not good faith bargaining. We can only hope they approach the table with a more sincere attempt to negotiate next time around. Otherwise we'll just have to let the FLRA sort it out and spend even more taxpayer money unnecessarily.

Related Documents
Union Proposal
Management's Proposal

CBA Transcripts
Pages 1-200

Pages 201-400
Pages 401-543

Agreed to Provisions

Article 1


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