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Special Bargaining Notice: Out of Contract


Starting today, December 11, 2015, Lecturers and all other NSF in Unit 18 are working without a contract. Most of our old contract still applies because we are in “status quo.” However, grievances we file can no longer be arbitrated.

Here are some answers to what I guess are your most frequent questions.

  1. Wait! What? What’s going on?

Our Union, the UC-AFT, has been in contract negotiations for 10 months with the University of California. We were supposed to be done by June 1st, and then by October 30th, and then by December 10th. The negotiating team has decided not to allow a third temporary extension. We are still in negotiations, but the contract has lapsed.

  1. So what does this mean for me?

Right now, your situation should not change very much; the terms and conditions of your employment remain in “status quo.” There is one glaring exception, however. Should you need to file a grievance, that grievance will not be allowed to go to binding arbitration.

Otherwise, your salary, workload, union dues, and other aspects of your job should not change at all.

  1. Is my reappointment in danger?

If you are continuing, you have no worries. If you are pre-continuing (“pre-six”) your reappointment is in no more danger than it ever was. In fact, if you worry that you won’t be reappointed because of this contract dispute, or because of your involvement in the Union, or because of your advocacy for a fair and just contract, contact your local Grievance Steward or Campus Representative AT ONCE. If there is evidence that your department is retaliating against you for your membership in, participation in, or interest in the Union or in our contract; if your department threatens or even hints that your status may be in doubt because of the Union in any way, then the University is engaging in an Unfair Labor Practice. The Union can and will defend you, through an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board.

This protection never goes away. If the UC commits an Unfair Practice (like threats or retaliation) we can file a claim, get relief, and even hold a ULP strike.

  1. What about salary increases?

We haven’t received one in 2015-16, and until we get a contract, we won’t receive one.

  1. What about my merit for 2016?

Because we are in status quo, your fourth-year salary increase, excellence review, and merit review will proceed as normal this year.

  1. How did we get here?

Like I said before (1), we have been negotiating with the UC for ten months now. While we could have agreed to another temporary extension of our contract, we didn’t want to reward the UC’s slow pace of negotiations. We were tired of spending hours in little rooms waiting for the UC to come to the table, only to see no proposals, or proposals that came nowhere near to our expectations.

For some time, even the slow negotiations have been worthwhile. We have made significant gains in our contract. Unfortunately, some of the biggest issues—salary, benefits for part-time Lecturers, stability of appointment for pre-continuing Lecturers, and making sure Lecturers are placed in our unit instead of being called something else—have not been addressed.

We feel it is time to resolve all these differences and get a new contract, and we think that the University needs to proceed with more urgency.

  1. What are the remaining bargaining issues?

While we have resolved several issues and already have some real gains in employment stability for lecturers, four big disagreements remain.

Salary: the UC claims that it will offer us a solid compensation offer, but their negotiating team does not yet have full authority to do so. We have not seen any formal offer that we would consider appropriate.

Benefits: we have proposed Social Security for all Lecturers, not just those already in the pension system. The UC has refused that, but it is reluctantly exploring stipends for those not in the pension system. However, we have seen no real proposals.

Unit Definition: the Public Employment Relations Board, which adjudicates labor disputes arising out of our contract, has ruled that in certain cases where there is a disagreement about whether an instructor is really a Lecturer, instead of some other title code, we should resolve our differences through grievance and binding arbitration. UC is refusing to acknowledge the ruling and continues to seek to prevent us from having a proper forum for adjudicating these cases.

Appointment Stability: we have proposed that Lecturers who are appointed every quarter or every semester in one year should have an annual appointment the next year, assuming that the instructional need is constant. The UC rejects this. It also rejects our idea that if someone has taught in the UC before, that prior experience should count towards the 18 quarters or 12 semesters needed to reach the excellence review, and the possibility of a continuing appointment.

  1. How can the UC possibly be saying “no” to our very reasonable demands?

I have no answer for this. The UC is standing firm against reasonable compensation, Social Security for all employees, the rule of law, and the idea that Lecturers have jobs.

  1. So can we strike?

No, not right now.

  1. Why not?

Before we can legally strike, one of two things must happen. Either the UC must commit an unfair labor practice (and we’re always watching for one) or we must go through and complete a long impasse, mediation, and fact-finding process. If we are close to either of those, we will hold a strike vote.

  1. What can we do?

We can continuing negotiating, while making our voices heard in other arenas through letter-writing, advocacy, protests, demonstrations, teach-ins, awareness campaigns, political outreach, and all other forms of education. Look, it’s what we do best.

  1. How can I help?

Please contact your local campus affiliate to ask questions, get information, help sign Lecturers (including yourself, if you aren’t already a member), and volunteer to do what you can do to help your Union help you.

Ben Harder
Chief Negotiator