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New Employee Orientations Bargaining Updates

We held our second bargaining session for new employee orientations on October 4 at UCLA.  During this session we provided testimonials from lecturers and librarians about how difficult it is to get information about job assignments, benefits, and other core working conditions.  We also presented responses from our bargaining survey that indicate how valuable our members consider in-person contact with union reps to be.

Later, we exchanged supposals with admin’s negotiators.  (Supposals are informal frameworks used to discuss possible points of agreement without codifying them into full-blown proposals.)  Our Unit 18 supposal addressed the four avenues through which lecturers and other non-Senate faculty are onboarded: signing paperwork such as I-9 forms, orientations hosted by departments, programs, and schools, campuswide orientations open to all employees, and online orientations.  Including all four of these channels is necessary to ensure in-person contact with our members at some point soon after they’re hired.

Management’s supposal reflected some movement, but was ultimately disappointing.  Their lawyers floated 15 days’ notice of campuswide orientations and 30 minutes of union presentation time.  Both timelines represent increases from their first proposal.  They also suggested that they would be willing to provide notification of campuswide orientations in appointment letters and that they would be amenable to creating an online orientation specific to our members.

Ultimately, however, these are minor concessions that we fully expected.  In the end, management failed to recognize or respond to our need to contact our members in person.  With 44% of our members totally excluded from benefits eligibility, there is no reason for many of our members to attend the campuswide orientations, which usually focus on benefits.  Online orientations might provide a supplemental or backup option, but our members want and need the opportunity to discuss their rights with a union rep and ask questions.  We will continue to make that case during our next bargaining session, which we are in the process of scheduling.

On September 12th, our 13-member bargaining team met with Labor Relations and Human Resources representatives at UC Irvine to begin negotiating over the implementation of Assembly Bill 119, which gives our union the right to meaningful contact with newly-hired employees during onboarding and orientation. Our bargaining team comprised both lecturers and librarians as we joined together to support each other and maximize our power.

Mia AB 119 pic.JPGWe presented the results of our orientations bargaining survey as well as sample orientation agendas from departments and schools on four different campuses as examples of good practices that UC admin should follow more consistently. Highlighting what currently works well, members of the bargaining team also educated management’s representatives about their experiences and observations about orientations.

We passed our initial proposals for non-Senate faculty and librarians, respectively. Both proposals demand:

· In-person group orientations within two weeks of the start of every term, including summer session.

· HR portion of orientations to be hosted by someone trained in the MOUs.

· Management to require attendance at the orientation as a core job duty (favored by 70% of our members on our bargaining survey).

· If Fidelity rep is present, UCRP rep must also be present.

· Time for Q & A during the HR part of the orientation.

· HR orientations will not substitute for department-level orientations.

· 30 days' notice of orientation place and time to union reps, plus notice to individual lecturers and librarians in their appointment letters.

· Orientation to be held in a room with AV equipment which we can access.

· One hour of union contact during orientation without university representatives present.

· Right to distribute literature and membership forms.

· Management has no oversight over union's content.

· Union materials, including membership form, to be transmitted to those who teach exclusively online and receive an online orientation.

· List of those who did not attend any orientation within 30 days of the start of a term.

· Breaches of the agreement to be subject to grievance and arbitration.

· Terms of the agreement to be subject to renegotiation in successor bargaining.

Management caucused for several hours only to return to the table with a counter-proposal that took none of our ideas seriously. Management’s counter-proposal was virtually identical to the one that they passed to AFSCME recently, indicating zero regard for the particular needs of members of different bargaining units. Management is offering only 10 days’ notice of existing campus-wide orientations and 20 minutes of union contact with management representatives still present in the room (and, potentially, other unions conducting presentations at the same time in the same room). They also expressed great enthusiasm for expanding their roster of online orientation materials in the hope that all orientations could soon be conducted online, as their Title IX sexual harassment training currently is.

We replied that we were disappointed but not surprised that management insists on neglecting a basic employer responsibility to provide clear and consistent information about our employment and benefits. We told Labor Relations that their proposal fails to meet the standard set out in state law for meaningful access and communication. After all, the vast majority of non-Senate faculty and librarians are not even advised of the time and place of campus-wide orientations. We reminded Labor Relations that the state statute covers all onboarding procedures, whether they happen one-on-one between a new employee and an HR staff member, or whether they happen at the level of department, library, or campus. We made the case that it would be extraordinarily burdensome for management to provide notice to us every time a new lecturer or librarian meets individually with HR, and thus that it is in both of our best interests for admin to host group orientations. We pointed out that online trainings fail to provide opportunities to get questions answered and that UC admin’s extremely poor record of enforcing Title IX protections against sexual harassment and assault do not bode well for the efficacy of online trainings.

Assembly Bill 119 also requires that UC admin transmit new employee contact information to our union in a timely manner. We informed management that much of the data we currently receive from them is inaccurate, making it difficult to contact our members. Since work location is one of the elements in the required contact info, we proposed that “work location” for Unit 18 faculty be defined as the lecturer’s personal office location (where they would hold office hours). We also asked what UCOP’s timeline was for fulfilling the state law’s data reporting requirements, given that the law is already in effect. Management’s chief negotiator did not satisfactorily respond to any of these issues.

Labor Relations is clearly not taking its obligation to comply with state law seriously. Therefore, we’ll return to the bargaining table on October 4th at UCLA for another negotiating session.

Lecturers and Librarians at the bargaining table together at UCLA.