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Bargaining Update - Unit 18 COVID Effects Bargaining (9/7/21)


Your volunteer lecturer negotiators began bargaining with the UC Office of the President (UCOP) over campus reopenings and in-person instruction in early July, 2021. Our objectives have been to ensure the health and safety of lecturers returning to in-person instruction, compensation for any increase in workload associated with pandemic-related teaching arrangements, and paid leave for lecturers who contract COVID or who have family members who do. After four bargaining sessions, we’ve made some progress, but there remain some significant sticking points.

A major obstacle has been that President Drake’s negotiators are frequently ill-informed about what is happening at the campus level. Thus, we spend a significant amount of time educating them about the changing guidance at different campuses--guidance that, when it covers lecturers and engages core subjects that must be bargained with us (such as compensation, health and safety, workload, and leaves), should only be issued after we have a signed agreement, not before.

Safe, reasonable, and compassionate policies for in-person teaching and learning are not our sole concern. We’ve heard from, and are working with, staff, students, and Senate faculty who are distressed at the apparent hard-line commitment to in-person instruction at all costs, which in some cases seems to deny the reality of this pandemic. These concerns are shared by faculty nationwide.

Where We’ve Found Agreement in Effects Bargaining: Health and Safety Measures, Alternative Work Arrangements, Management to Provide PPE, No Discipline for Faculty Protecting Their Health

Here are the areas where UCOP’s negotiators have accepted provisions from our proposals:

UC admin will follow county and state public health guidelines with respect to masking, ventilation, sanitation procedures, testing, notification of positive cases, contact tracing, and vaccination.

All lecturers may request alternative work arrangements, and departments/programs/schools must give good faith consideration to the requests (i.e., not deny them summarily or arbitrarily).

UC admin will provide us with face coverings.

If other students, faculty, or staff do not comply with county or campus health and safety protocols, we cannot be disciplined or non-reappointed for taking reasonable steps to protect our health. This allows us to make what in our judgement is the best decision should we be faced with a situation where students in a classroom refuse to wear a mask or faculty/staff in a faculty meeting refuse to follow campus protocols.

Lecturers who are organizing and advocating within their departments, programs, and schools are also finding some measure of success in requesting and being granted exceptions to in-person teaching when health and/or family circumstances warrant remote work.

President Drake’s Administration Rejects Paid COVID Leave for Lecturers with Less Than 66% Appointments
Under current UC policy, most of our members will not be eligible for paid leave in the event they or a family member contract COVID. To ensure that no one loses their wages or benefits because they fall ill, we have proposed a paid administrative COVID leave for lecturers excluded from other types of paid leave. UCOP has thus far rejected our proposal.

UC Management Refuses Lecturers Access to Same Dependent Care Programs that Senate Faculty Enjoy
It’s simply a fact of life this year that schools and daycares are going to be closed suddenly and intermittently. Many of our members are already experiencing a need to work from home because their children have been exposed to COVID. Yet UC management refuses to agree to simple and common-sense flexibility enabling lecturers to teach remotely during a family quarantine or when school/childcare is not available.

Some campus-specific programs providing back-up childcare for Senate faculty were extended to lecturers last year because of the pandemic. Today, Senate faculty on most campuses enjoy an expanded menu of family-friendly flexible work arrangements, but lecturers, who are majority women and far more likely to be women than Senate faculty, are excluded from these programs. We have proposed that lecturers have access to the same dependent care programs as Senate faculty. President Drake’s administration has repeatedly rejected this proposal. UCOP is also still refusing to bargain in good faith over a Pay for Family Care and Bonding program tailored for lecturers.

UC Admin Refuses to Compensate for Additional Workload in Hyflex Teaching Arrangements or Fully Online Teaching
Faculty across the country are receiving additional compensation for hyflex teaching and for working overtime to suddenly shift teaching modes. We have proposed a lump sum payment for faculty who are asked to teach simultaneously to students who are in person and students who are remote in the same class (hyflex model), as well as extra pay and extra non-instructional time for faculty who are asked to move their instruction from in-person to remote. President Drake’s negotiators have thus far rejected our proposals. Plus, they refuse to acknowledge that enforcing the University’s health and safety policies is not part of our assigned job duties.

UCOP Refuses to Accept Responsibility for Enforcing Health and Safety Policies
We have proposed that the university provide a means for Unit 18 faculty members to report incidents involving students in our classes who fail to follow county or campus health and safety protocols, like masking in the classroom. We believe that a university representative is responsible for following up with the student to ensure compliance or, if necessary, discipline. Instead of agreeing to this, President Drake’s administration is placing the onus on instructors to enforce their policies.

What Can You Do?

If you’re frustrated with President Drake’s lack of responsiveness to our needs, if you want to join the chorus of lecturers calling on UCOP to bargain with us in good faith, complete our Fall Plan to Win form and let us know we can count on you.

You can also exercise your current rights.

Under our current UC-AFT Unit 18 contract and state and federal law, you already:

Your UC-AFT chapter leadership and staff are here to help you advocate for yourself, your colleagues, and your students in these and other areas.