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Librarian Bargaining Update #5 October 3, 2012


Librarian (Unit 17) Bargaining is full of many new and extremely important new developments. First of all, the UC-AFT Negotiating Team is now composed of (Axel Borg (UCD and Deputy Chief Negotiator), Mitchell Brown (UCI), Maria Elena Cortez (UC-AFT ED), Harrison Decker (UCB), Miki Goral (Chief Negotiator Emerita), Ken Lyons (UCSC), Lise Snyder (UCLA), and Mike Rotkin (Chief Negotiator).

The UC-AFT Team has now placed written proposals in front of the University Administration's Team related to:

-- changes to the review process for Librarians (we cleaned up current articles 4,5, and 6, and proposed changes to make the system simpler, clearer, and fairer.

--changes to the Grievance, Arbitration, and the Alternative Dispute articles that clarify the authority of arbitrators and other decision-makers, clarify the organization and language of the articles, and that work to make the grievance and arbitration process more efficient and less onerous both for grievants and administrators.

We have explained our proposed changes to the other side and answered some questions, but it is now it their court to accept our proposals or make counter proposals. The University team has committed to responding to our proposals on these articles, which are primarily not economic, over the next month.

We are currently analyzing responses to information requests we made of the Administration concerning the removal of several members of Unit 17 from the UC-AFT when they were moved to new administrative positions. Depending on what we find in the information we received, we may decide to file an unfair labor practice charge or other action against the University.

Our team is working on a new salary structure that would allow the University to make significant pay increases in the lower and middle positions in Unit 17, but without harming the Librarians currently near the top of the scale. We are also fighting to remove the "barrier step" on campuses where that is an issue in how Librarians move from step 5 to step 6.  We know that on some campuses, it is not an issue and we will not do anything to threaten what is working on those campuses.

The University has made it clear that they will not seriously bargain compensation issues with any union at UC:

1) until they see if Proposition 30 passes on November 6 (one more reason to join your colleagues in the UC-AFT and other unions, student groups and others around the State in fighting to pass Prop. 30 and join pro Prop 30 work on your campus on October 16) and 

2) until they have an agreement from the union to accept the new pension and retiree health plans. The Administration has made a proposal to release the withheld merit increases in Unit 17 retroactively to July 1, 2012, and, informally, even to get the language out of the Unit 17 contract that allows future withholding of merit pay, but only if we accept changes to the pension and retiree health plans. They have said that we could bargain changes to the pension or retiree health plans, but that they would have to be cost neutral -- something perhaps not that easy to accomplish if one wants to significantly improve the new plans.

We were about to launch an information bulletin about the new pension/retiree health arrangements and the arguments pro and con for making a pension deal. We then would include a survey of all UC-AFT members in Unit 17 concerning their/your views on our bargaining goals related to the pension/retiree health, withholding of merits, and potential changes to the pension plan or other aspects of the Unit 17 MOU.  (Although we will not survey fee payers in Unit 17, we will share our information bulletin and seek any input they want to share with us while, once again, encouraging them to join as members of the UC-AFT and fully participate in our negotiations.)

But it has come to our attention that there is more than a little ambiguity about who is going to be able to stay on the old pension or retiree health plans and who will be moved to the new ones. So we are currently engaged in an information request to clarify what exactly is in the University Administration's proposed changes to the pension plan and retiree health plan and who, exactly, is affected by the changes.

Once we get more clarity about the University Administration's proposed retirement changes, we will send out our information bulletin to all UC-AFT members in Unit 17 and a survey to get your input on how we should respond to the proposed quid pro quo involving the pension and the withholding of merits. We know that many of you are facing the withholding of your earned merit pay, so we are hoping to move this process along as quickly as we can.

In the meantime, we have scheduled Unit 17 bargaining in Oakland on October 19 and October 26. We hope to be able to have substantive discussions on the non-economic issues discussed above and introduce our creative ideas about a salary structure that could raise everyone's salary to close the 19% gap with CSU, but with higher raises at the middle and bottom of the scale. We understand that the Administration will not be talking seriously with us in October about the actual dollars in any such new salary plan.

And we are hoping that you, on every campus, will continue your work to expose the withholding of merit pay and how outrageous that really is. I think it best to focus on getting a letter that says, in effect, "congratulations on your merit increase and thanks for your wonderful work for our library, but we are withholding the actual payment of that merit increase," i.e. punishing your best employees. All of you are now aware of a number of options for campus action including but not limited to:  petitions by our members, the Senate, and others, letters to ULs, tabling outside of libraries, wearing buttons to work about withholding, letters to the editor and op ed pieces in campus papers and community papers, poster campaigns, creative demonstrations (that rely on clever images or themes rather than large numbers), etc.  

The more we put pressure on the University about the withholding of merits, the more reason they have to settle this issue and to settle it sooner rather than later. No doubt that will have something to do with how we respond to the pension issue, but your active work on the campuses definitely strengthens our hand at the bargaining table with respect to this issue.


Mike Rotkin