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Bargaining Update #5: May 11-12 and May 28-29


The more things change, the more things stay the same.

The negotiating team has had two recent meetings with the UC: May 11 and 12 in San Diego, and May 28 and 29 in Oakland.

In the first meeting, UC’s Lead Negotiator, Athena Buenconsejo, shared that she would be leaving at the end of May. In the second meeting, we bargained with her team for the last time, and we learned to know the new Lead Negotiator, Nadine Fishel.

In the earlier meeting, we focused on many smaller contract provisions, so negotiations went relatively smoothly. We agreed not to discuss ten Articles and let them remain current contract language. We reached a tentative agreement on the Article that sets out official holidays.

The UC passed us a substantial revision of Article 17—Layoff and Reduction in Time. That article has been difficult conceptually for both sides, and to their credit, the UC did a good job of revising the structure and organization of the article. It is now clearer and easier to use.

Thursday, May 28, we provided the UC with a second proposal for the Articles that govern our appointments, reappointments, and the process for becoming a Continuing Appointee.

By the way, if your department chair or MSO or any officer of the University has told you that Lecturers cannot work more than a certain number of quarters or semesters, please let your local Union representatives know. If someone has told you that Lecturers cannot work 20 years (or longer) that person is either lying to you or admitting that your department is violating our contract.

 It took the entire day to go through our proposals. The University hates any idea that it owes its academic employees any kind of notice, supervision, mentoring, documentation of processes, or pathway towards a continuing appointment. Nor does it think it should prefer to give a continuing appointee access to a full-time appointment, even if new classes open up.

Friday, May 29, was somewhat of a waste. The meeting began and 11:30 A.M., and at noon, we broke for a lunch to mark Athena’s departure. In between, the UC told us again that we were term-limited appointees because our appointments have end dates, and our contract was already so beyond “industry standards” that it was encroaching on UC’s “operational flexibility.” We were told that new lecturers need to be constantly hired so that departments don’t get “inbred.”

Worse than the sloppy insults was the UC notion that somehow continuing appointments in general either don’t really exist, or are some terrible mistake. It is also clear that some Departments in the UC don’t want contingent faculty. They would prefer to staff their classes entirely with tenure-track professors.  These departments want to pretend that contingent academic labor doesn’t exist by keeping the employees so contingent that no one ever learns their names.

After a break, we returned at 1:30 and set about challenging their rhetoric that implied new lecturers with no job continuity make better instructors and members of departments than do continuing lecturers with years of experience and benefits-eligible positions.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but you should feel aggrieved. You should protest, if not today, then next fall, assuming you’re allowed to return to your campus. You should put UC-AFT door cards on your office. You should let students, colleagues, and the UC in general know that you are a member of your department and campus, that you are highly qualified to perform your duties, and that you are responsible for the core mission of the University of California—undergraduate education. You should also let them know that loyalty must run in two directions, and that your patience is not infinite. 

Ben Harder
Chief Negotiator, UC-AFT