As part of our ongoing efforts to share information, the UET Online Magazine features important announcements on events and learning opportunities for bargaining unit employees. Listed below are links to specific timely information for UET Members. Create or update your User Profile by clicking MyUET to receive program updates and the UET Online Magazine by e-mail.
For well over a decade, OCSEA has been promoting continuing education and training for employment security. All the programs were joint labor/management initiatives. Now, with the launch of the Union Education Trust on August 1, 2006, the union is at the reins – developing and rolling out an education benefit that is union-owned and operated and focuses entirely on members’ needs.
The Union Education Trust was negotiated during the most recent contract talks this past winter. The state proposed eliminating the widely popular nine-year-old Workforce Development program. The union counter-proposed taking over the operation of the program.
“ We are very fortunate that while negotiations were challenging and the State was going to eliminate Workforce Development, your union held firm and saved the education benefit program. Although the funding has been cut by a third, we’re in business and are providing a much- needed education benefit to our members” OCSEA President and UET Chair Ron Alexander said.
“The important part to remember is that now we have a brand-new program that we can build upon. We are good at developing programs that will help our members achieve their career goals.”
While the UET was established to fill the void left when Workforce Development went away, it is different in many ways. Its operating structure is a trust – similar to the Union Benefits Trust that provides dental, vision and life insurance for state employee union members. Four of the six trustees have experience serving on the Workforce Development Steering Committee, but their roles are larger as trustees of UET. They now must not only decide on what programs to offer, but also how to keep the UET financially solvent. This is a huge responsibility with the rising cost of tuition and the reduced funding received from the employer.
Perhaps the greatest difference is the exclusive focus of the UET: the union members. No management approval is required at any level of the program, from policy development to course approval.
“The Trustees are being very careful and very deliberate to establish a strong foundation for the UET,” Alexander said. “Our primary interest is that everyone has access, receives excellent customer service and is treated fairly.”
During the spring and early summer, the trustees researched the creation of a trust and conducted an online poll of members to learn their needs. Almost immediately upon launch, many key programs have been rolled out:
Career Development Counseling is available through phone or e-mail consultations. A Labor/Management Training benefit offers funds to assist with training for either labor/management committee effectiveness or labor/management strategic planning. The UET also is offering a “Planning Your Retirement” training program beginning this fall.
The UET programs were designed using the best practices from similar educational assistance programs and then customizing these programs to better meet members’ development needs. UET is using new technologies to reduce cost and improve service. An exciting new feature is the electronic voucher: Now you can receive your voucher online reducing your processing time.
To get the most out of the UET, members are encouraged to create (and keep up-to-date) a profile at MyUET (see the link at the far right of the top toolbar).
Then, just like UET, you’ll hit the ground running.
“It’s an exciting program,” Alexander said. “We ask people to be patient: We’re starting all over.”
“But, working together, we’ll make this program a huge success.”