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Bargaining Update #8 July 21- 22 Irvine


This last Tuesday and Wednesday, July 21 and 22, the team met with the UC in Irvine. While there were no protests, there were important moments in the negotiations.

I. Tuesday, July 21

First, on July 21 we began by presenting the UC with our ideas for how the pension should look. Basically, we presented the following principles:

If the UC caps the income that can be calculated for pension benefits, then we need our high-earning Lecturers to have the same supplemental retirement programs that other high earners receive.

The 2016 pension tier should be just like the 2013 pension tier, except for the cap on high earners’ pensions.

Lecturers who are not eligible for the pension should have some employer contributions to their retirements. We feel Social Security is the minimum we should have. However, we would also like to see employer contributions to a Defined Contribution Plan for all lecturers, not just those with benefits.

Finally, we do not support the idea that employees could opt out of the pension, which provides guaranteed income for life, and accept a Defined Contribution Plan that is close to a 401(k) plan in the private sector.

We don’t want ANY UC employees out of the pension plan. Defined Benefit Pensions work best with solidarity. When employees leave a pension, those employees and the organization as a whole are less interested in preserving that pension. All employees’ retirements are better when there is a strong, collective defined benefit pension.

The UC doesn’t actually know yet what the proposed 2016 pension will look like, but Bob Samuels, UC-AFT President, is participating in the pension advisory committee.

In the afternoon, the teams discussed technical language about waivers, which are agreements that put an end to negotiations while the contract is in force and allowing the University to both keep doing what it had been doing, as long as that was consistent with the contract, and to change what it had been doing in any way that it wanted. Our current contract language is too broad, we think, and we are looking for ways to protect ourselves from unilateral change.

II. Thursday, July 22, A.M.

Wednesday’s meeting started with a “polite, clear” discussion of the parties’ main goals of negotiations. Ours was a bit of a laundry list because we added some technical details (such as language in grievance and arbitration), that I won’t include here, but the discussion was helpful in determining the negotiating situation.

In short, we want:

  • Retirement Security, including a smooth transition to the 2016 pension tier (which must be fair) with retirement benefits for lecturers not in the current pension, specifically Social Security;
  • Better Stability for lecturers who don’t have continuing appointments, through shortening the time to continuing, improving the mechanisms for hiring, re-hiring, and assessing lecturers, and giving lecturers credit for the work they do in other departments or on different UC campuses; and
  • Higher Salaries.

And they want:

  • The 2016 Pension Tier, and
  • A long contract (at least four years, with limited reopeners).

But they don’t want:

  • Lecturers to have a shorter time to continuing status (so they want to keep the pre-continuing years at six), or
  • Significant changes to current workload regulations.

So, this is the situation now. There are many other issues as well, but these are the key places.

III. Thursday, July 22, P.M.

In the afternoon, we discussed workload. Across the UC, Lecturers feel overworked. That is normal because all Americans feel overworked. The problem is that many Lecturers ARE overworked, and the contract doesn’t seem to be helping us. The two big sticking points are the workload situation for UCSB Lecturers in Writing and in Languages, and arbitration for workload cases where we cannot demonstrate a recent change. So, we are trying to get UCSB to ease up on the amount of work it piles onto Lecturers who teach language acquisition or composition in addition to their normal eight-course workload. Also, we are trying to expand arbitration to cover instances in which people have been overworked for a long time.

As you can see from the morning’s report, workload is a difficult issue. The University maintains that workload decisions are all based on academic judgment, and therefore can never be challenged by an arbitrator. We disagree, of course. But that is the center of the current dispute. In the mean time, you can help us by bringing your workload problems to the attention of your campus representative and your grievance steward.