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UC-AFT’s Political Work Supports Quality Instruction--Join Our Political Action Committee


For the last ten years, UC-AFT has been engaged in an ongoing project of trying to force the university to put more money into undergraduate instruction.  Part of this effort has revolved around budget transparency.  After discovering that all tuition dollars and state funds were being redistributed by the Office of the President to the campuses in an unequal and hidden manner, we asked the state senate to request an audit of the university.  This audit came out in 2011, and it verified many of our suspicions.  The audit clearly stated that the campuses with the highest number of under-represented minority students were receiving the lowest level of per-student funding.  The audit also reported that a large part of the UC’s budget was non-transparent. 

As the union representing teachers dedicated mostly to undergraduate education, we are very concerned about how the campuses are funded and how much it costs to educate each student.  Often when we bargain with the university administration, we are told that there is no money available for raises or benefits, but when we try to determine how the university is spending its funds, we encounter a stonewall.  In order to help shed light on the UC budget, we worked with the governor and the state legislature to require the university to report on how much it costs to educate undergraduate students, graduate students, and professional school students (AB 94). We are also working on a follow-up to the original audit.  One reason why we want the university to report on these matters is that we believe that as the system charges more to undergraduates for their education, the money spent on instruction  goes down.  In short, undergraduate students are being forced to subsidize graduate and professional education as their own education is short changed.  Meanwhile, the university tries to save money by cutting funding for libraries and avoiding stable lecturer appointments.

As we continue to pursue budget transparency, we have also stood with students to reject constant tuition increases.  We were on the frontlines with students during the protests leading to the successful passage of Prop 30, and we continue to see students as our strongest allies.  We also see ourselves as one of the main defenders of undergraduate education, and while we also support the research mission of the university, we want to fight the combination of tuition increases and decreased spending on undergraduate instruction.

Siding with students in the UC system and across the nation, we have also been at the forefront of the fight for free public higher education.  This work gives us common cause with students as we seek to make higher education more affordable and accessible.  Our continual dedication to undergraduate students and their issues will result in student support for lecturers and librarians at the bargaining table. 

Our work with students and other faculty groups has also resulted in a successful prevention of a senate bill that would have replaced many of our courses with online classes from private providers.  We have led the charge against this type of bad policy coming from Sacramento, and we continue to talk to the governor about the issue of distance education. 

Since we have one of the best contracts in the country for non-tenure-track faculty, we feel that it is important for us to share our knowledge and help support other contingent faculty.   Recently, we have been able to meet with the Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, to argue for greater regulations regarding the use and abuse of contingent faculty.  We also continue to work with the Obama administration on their proposal to make the first two years of community college free.  Since half of the people who end up earning bachelor degrees receive part of their education at community colleges, there is a very close relationship between all sectors of higher education.      

Our political actions are essential to everything we do, and the more members we have involved in our activities, the more power we have to affect positive change in the quality of education we provide at UC. If you are interested in the political process and in helping UC-AFT connect with state legislators and the Governor's office, please contact UC-AFT V.P. for Legislation, Axel E. Borg: