Twitter icon
Facebook icon
RSS icon
YouTube icon


2013-14 Re-opener Bargaining Update (#6) February 28, 2013



A lot has transpired with Unit 18 negotiations over the last few weeks. And so I must ask for your attention to this update, as it details the current state of bargaining, and outlines the significance of these negotiations to our members. I'm sorry to report that there will be a very difficult bargaining context over the coming months. We will need your support. 

The UC-AFT bargaining team regrouped, after it became apparent that UC's plan since last spring has been to stonewall in negotiations with the ultimate goal of imposing retirement benefits changes in July 2013.  UC-AFT will now be inviting rank and file members to attend bargaining sessions as observers, and we are asking every campus to appoint two representatives to serve on a systemwide bargaining committee to support the bargaining team.

Here's a brief run down of the open articles we'll be negotiating this spring. The 2012 re-openers over Article 17 Layoff, Article 7 Appointments, Article 22 Merit Review, and Article 32 Grievance were never resolved, so they remain open.  Now, we begin 2013 re-openers with two contractually predetermined articles: Article 21 Salary and Article 11 Benefits; and two optional articles opened by UC-AFT: Article 1 Recognition and Article 9 Professional Concerns.  Under a separate provision, Article 42, Online Education also automatically opens in 2013. 

What this means is that there are now three sets of negotiations (2012-13, 2013-14 and Online Ed) which will be treated separately with whole meeting days dedicated to discussing the issues in each one. The bargaining schedule including articles to be discussed is posted on the UC-AFT website.

What follows is a recap of where we are with each negotiation, starting with the most recent first:


The University is going to introduce a second tier to the retirement system, which will affectively require people to work longer to reach the same level of benefits that exist now. In addition, the University plans to pass more of the costs of retiree healthcare on to retirees. The University cannot just implement this for represented employees, so it must bargain the terms under which those represented by Unions will enter the new tier or be grandfathered into the old tier. Our goal will be to get as many of our members into the old as possible, and we have made it crystal clear that there needs to be money on the table to recover increased pension contributions over the last few years. The University's proposal offers no money, and unless (and until) salary increases are put forward, we can see no reason to agree to the new tier. 

We do not believe that the University can implement the new pension tier for lecturers without our agreement. The new tier is scheduled to be put into place for non-represented individuals on 1 July. That means the University ought to feel some pressure to resolve the issue. But we lack confidence that it will do so. Other UC unions are also preparing for a tough fight to secure changes to the new tier that will lessen the impacts on their members. UC-AFT, in fact, may begin to call on our members to take action to support our team at the bargaining table. Please follow this issue closely, as it is extremely significant. 

Though the University waived their option to open other articles, UC-AFT did not--and has taken this opportunity to address two important issues affecting our members. We opened Article 1, Recognition to address ongoing issues of people being taken out of the bargaining unit and misclassified into other academic titles.  In addition, we've opened Article 9, Professional Concerns to try to get the University to provide a term of paid leave after every seven years of service. We will not call it a sabbatical, but the concepts are similar, and this is something for which our members have consistently asked. Please see our opening proposal for details. 


The university has thus far refused to put any money on the table. We made it clear in August that without money, we could not make any non-economic language clarifications or changes. The University said it would get back to us. It has not. But it refuses to take the non-economic articles off of the table, despite our offer to do so and keep current contract language. UC is very motivated to secure their new pension tier, so here we may have some leverage to work on increasing the layoff notice period, and/or increasing the size of steps in our merit scale. Perhaps a grand bargain will be possible, but that will require a lot of pressure from our members to get the University to make any sort of reasonable offer on either or both of the salary and merit articles. 

Online education

For the time being, Article 42 Online Education will be also be negotiated separately. We are interested in securing solid protections around these courses and ensuring fair compensation for our members who teach them. The University's opening proposal claims that these courses are no different than any other course a lecturer might teach. UC-AFT believes that the critical time to protect our work and to ensure quality online education for UC students is as the courses are being developed. If you have experience with online teaching, or you are currently involved with the UC Online Education program, please get in touch with the field rep on your campus. 

Bargaining Dates have been confirmed for April and May. The university has shown no interest in movement at the table, but UC-AFT is committed to progress in these negotiations. As a result, we will begin increasing the level of organizing around bargaining on the campuses, we are establishing a  lecturer bargaining committee with members from each campus, and we are planning campus meetings for late April and May. The greater the member participation, the easier it will be to push the University to agree to meaningful improvements in job security and compensation for non-senate faculty.

I will write more when there is more information, but our first bargaining session is in mid-April, and then we will meet nearly weekly after that.

Alan Karras
Unit 18 Chief Negotiator, UC-AFT
Senior Lecturer, International and Area Studies, Berkeley