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Pre-Bargaining Meeting with UCOP January 30 at UCI

Combined salary of UCOP negotiators: approx. $1,284,380

Combined salary UC-AFT faculty bargaining team: approx. $372,482

Percentage of UC budget dedicated to undergraduate education: 5%

UC-AFT faculty leaders met with the UC Office of the President on January 30, 2019, at UC Irvine. Our intrepid team consisted of Veronica Christie (San Diego), Ben Harder (Riverside), Jon Keeperman (Irvine), Kat Lewin (Irvine), Alison Lipman (UCLA), and Mia McIver (UCLA). UC management was represented by executives and lawyers from UCOP as well as assorted Labor Relations and Academic Personnel administrators.  Check the full list of our Contract Campaign Committee and Table Team members.

Our goal was to set the tone for the bargaining to come and, as our current contract requires, share “issues of concern” that we plan to negotiate. More than 30 lecturers packed the room to bear witness to how UC management’s current practices harm education for UC students.

UC-AFT President Mia McIver delivered an opening statement emphasizing the shortcomings of UC management in forcing turnover of UC faculty (around 33% per year for UC-AFT faculty on every campus). She emphasized the moral, ethical, and civic responsibility for management to support the educational mission of the UC and provide excellent learning conditions for UC students.

Three UC-AFT faculty members from UC Irvine emphasized the enormous stress, disruption, and anguish that last-minute hiring practices are causing. Students deserve faculty who have time to carefully plan and prepare syllabi, lectures, and discussion, not faculty who lose their apartments because they’ve lost their income, who are forced to begin the term without the opportunity to understand—let alone participate in—curricular revisions, or who are deprived of insurance and mental health care because their appointment letters are three months late.

Two tenured faculty members and an undergraduate representative from UC Irvine spoke in support of our work and our demands, highlighting the value of our excellent teaching for UC students and for Senate faculty themselves. They made compelling cases that UCOP is negotiating not just with us, but with UC students and with tenured faculty, because our work is essential to both of those groups.

Among other things, UCOP informed us that they will try to deprive us of part of our professional development funding by making it “use it or lose it” and ending the practice of rolling over any unallocated professional development funds from one year to the next. Of course, we’ll fight back against this attempted takeaway.

Throughout, we were disturbed by management’s refusal to meet with us at the locations where our members work. We proposed bargaining at UCLA before the end of this academic year. Management immediately said “it’s a hard no” but were unable to provide any reasons for the refusal. ¼ of our bargaining unit teaches at UCLA. We’re a democratic union, and these negotiations belong to our members. Why don’t they want our UC-AFT members to have access to the bargaining process?

We also proposed holding our sunshining meetings (which give members of the public the opportunity to comment on initial bargaining proposals) on campus at UC Berkeley, where another ¼ of our bargaining unit teaches and where the sunshining meeting would actually be accessible to the public. Instead, they’re insisting on holding the meeting sequestered in the securitized UCOP offices in Oakland. They proposed a Monday morning at 8 AM. This is not conducive to real public comment, demonstrating how little accountability UCOP feels it owes to Californians and our campus communities.

When we expressed opposition to the creation of new contingent, short-term job titles, an executive from UC Santa Cruz ranted at us: you’re not Senate faculty, you’ll never be Senate faculty, you don’t deserve to be compensated like Senate faculty. She told us that we should file grievances instead of doing research that contributes to our departments and our profession. She then denied that this was disrespectful. UC management needs to take a hint from other struggles for equity and inclusion. When someone tells you that you’ve been disrespectful, you don’t deny it; you listen.

As we discussed why service and research should be compensated work, an executive from UC Merced told us that if she hired a painter, she wouldn’t pay him if he did any carpentry associated with his painting work. This betrays an alarming eagerness to exploit workers and a deep misunderstanding of the role of teaching faculty at a research university. We shouldn’t have to donate excessive time and labor to the University just to do our jobs well, and UC management should not commit the crime of wage theft by benefitting from our goodwill and our desire to support our students and work side by side with our colleagues. Denying UC-AFT faculty compensation for additional work associated with our teaching perpetuates unfair wage gaps and discriminates heavily against women faculty and faculty of color, who are often offered only temporary and part-time positions.

UCOP’s chief spokesperson told us that UC-AFT faculty and our union are guests on UC campuses. Wrong. UC-AFT faculty are #FullFledgedFaculty, even if UC management refuses to recognize us as such. Our union is a faculty-led organization authorized by state and federal law. This university is our university, and we’re fighting to make sure the UC serves our students and all of California in a manner that befits our greatest public institution in the most prosperous state in our nation.

Do you share that conviction? Do you want to respond to UCOP’s perceptions of us and our work? Then get in touch with the Contract Campaign Committee on your campus to learn how you can participate in our bargaining campaign. Be sure to fill out a bargaining survey to tell us about your concerns and priorities. If you’re not a UC-AFT member yet, join now with our quick and easy enrollment form. This campaign is about highlighting how valuable and important our work is to the UC’s educational mission, and we need your voice to be part of our effort.