Twitter icon
Facebook icon
RSS icon
YouTube icon


UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Session #14 UC Davis January 29-31, 2020

UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Session #14
January 29-31, 2020
UC Davis

Contract Expired...Here’s Why and What it Means

At the end of the day on January 31, after three days of bargaining, UC’s team offered a two month contract extension. In response, our team followed the plan we agreed to with our statewide Contract Campaign Committee, and we made a counter offer that would allow a one month extension if UC would sign an agreement to address a standing grievance over salary increases and to commit to pass proposals by February 21 that would accept key concepts from our workload and job security demands. The university countered with a faux proposal that would have enshrined their current approach to negotiations. So, our contract expired. Read more about what that means here.

Three Days of Bargaining...UC’s Offers Massive Package Proposal with Little Substance

January 29, 2020
We began with queries of UCOP’s counter proposal on Article 7A-Pre-Six Appointment and Reappointment. Their position is that all lecturers who do not have a continuing appointment are “pre-employed,” even when they’re on payroll and actively teaching, because “self-terminating” appointments dump everyone back into the same applicant pool regardless of length or quality of service to the University. This would be a major and dangerous shift for pre-continuing lecturers, who would no longer be covered by this article in their pre-employed capacity, i.e., when seeking to be rehired. It would make getting reappointed much harder than it already is.

Through this paradoxical status of being simultaneously employed and pre-employed, UCOP is attempting to make the our current right to be considered for reappointment unenforceable. UCOP is insisting that even the most excellent pre-continuing lecturer not be prioritized for consideration to continue teaching their classes the following year. Thus, UCOP’s counter proposal remains a takeaway that fails to acknowledge our demand that available classes be assigned to current faculty (who have been recently reviewed) before new faculty are hired.

Next, UCOP claimed to address our concerns regarding timely notice of reappointment/non-reappointment, by accepting our proposal that UCOP remind department chairs no later than April 1 of their obligations and deadlines. While this is a tiny step in the right direction, we are confident that, in the absence of the other measures we’ve provided, there will be no meaningful change in when appointment letters are issued. We provided examples of members losing health insurance because of late reappointments, among other issues. UCOP rejected our proposal to issue initial appointments by March 1 and reappointments by December 1, earlier dates that would give our members more time to plan their careers, as well as help mitigate the problems of lapse in health benefits. However, UCOP doesn't think these problems are important enough to take more action.

January 30, 2020
We passed a package including Article 22--Merit Review, our new Article X--Performance Review Criteria and Materials, and Article 16--Medical Separation. A package must be considered as a whole, meaning rejection of one element implies rejection of the entire package.

Our Article 16 accepted language proposed by UCOP modeled on the academic researchers' contract that brings Unit 18 medical separation policy into line with a faculty policy rather than a staff policy. We also added language to clarify that the Chancellor, who holds the authority to give final approval to a medical separation, may only delegate that authority to an academic appointee (i.e., not a department manager or other non-faculty staff member) and clarifies that reasonable accommodation must be sought before determinations of medical separation are made.

Our Article 22 requires retroactive pay for late merit reviews, increases the percentage increase for successful merit reviews, and seeks to standardize the merit review process. Our proposed Article X outlines review criteria specific to teaching faculty and those with pedagogical expertise rather than the current criteria written with research faculty in mind. We also seek to find a more pedagogically sound method for student input than the current end-stage numerical evaluations. Our Article 22 had to include placeholder language because we still lack vital RFI data requested from UCOP months ago.

UCOP returned with a large but incomplete package proposal. Their 33-article package only had 31 articles. 7A--Pre-six Appointments and Article 11--Benefits were missing. However, this package contained UC admin’s first salary proposal. UCOP attempted to move us off our job security and uncompensated labor demands with a meager salary increase that would not keep up with inflation. Because it was part of a take-it-all-or-leave-it-all package, accepting it would entail dropping our demands in nearly every other area. No thanks.

We responded with a package of our own containing Article 18--Resignation, Article 19--Reassignment, Article 23--Summer Session, and Article 36--Past Practice. In this package, we come closer to UC admin’s positions in all four areas, while standing firm in our demands that summer sessions classes be compensated at the same rate as regular academic year classes (equal pay for equal work), that Unit 18 teaching faculty are eligible for summer sessions retirement benefits per the UC’s Presidential Policy (which covers all UC employees), and that we need a fair and transparent method for assigning summer classes to faculty who opt in to teaching them. At 9:00 PM, UCOP passed a disappointing Article 7A, which failed to address the high forced turnover rates among teaching faculty. We called it a night about 9:30 p.m.

January 31, 2020
Despite our requests to begin bargaining in the morning, UCOP arrived late in the day and began by giving us Article 11--Benefits, a component of the 33-article package they had passed the night before. Our priorities in our proposal include adequate paid parental leave for every parent in our bargaining unit, academic leave akin to a sabbatical for work on a major scholarly, creative, or professional project, Social Security coverage for those teaching faculty whom the UC currently excludes from eligibility, and reformatting to make the article clear and comprehensible for both faculty and administrators. UC admin rejected all of those demands.

As they often do, UCOP claimed to address our concerns about health insurance expiring when we receive late reappointment letters but only proposed unenforceable contract language that would apply in a tiny number of cases. Their concept is that health benefits could be retroactive when an appointment letter is supposed to be issued but has been withheld in error, for example by getting lost on somebody’s desk. This kind of error is not the driver of late appointment letters and is impossible to prove. Plus, retroactive benefits do not solve the problem of major and unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses, not to mention the anxiety caused by losing coverage for yourself and your family. We gave examples of how and why this proposal likely changes nothing. Under our current contract, we can sometimes enroll in benefits retroactively, but during the period when they have lapsed, our members and their families are told they cannot receive medical treatment or are required to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket sums. We need real contractual solutions, not meaningless gestures that don’t fix the problem.

UC admin also rejected our concept of making all teaching faculty positions eligible for Social Security coverage. This policy is particularly harmful to our many part-time faculty who are kept out of both UC’s retirement plans and Social Security. UC’s lead negotiator Nadine Fishl said that they are just obeying the law. Either she doesn’t know the law, or she’s intentionally misrepresenting the situation. Federal law does not require a state employer to exclude workers from federal Social Security. This is yet another example of UC’s negotiators trying to gaslight us into believing something that’s just not true. Our full-time members are covered by our most important social safety net; now it’s time to bring part-time faculty in as well.

There wasn’t time in the late afternoon of Friday, January 31st, for a full discussion of UCOP’s benefits proposal, let alone the other 32 articles in their package. UC admin proposed a two-month contract extension. While extending a contract can be a viable option when the contours of a final agreement are becoming apparent, in this case UCOP has dragged its feet and been unresponsive for more than nine months.

In a proposal that was unanimously ratified by our full Contract Campaign Committee in addition to our bargaining team, we offered to extend the contract for one month if UC admin would agree to move bargaining forward by bringing proposals—any proposal at all, even the tiniest little idea—on our core priorities of reappointment for pre-continuing faculty and compensation for unpaid service and professional development work. We also proposed that UC admin would finally honor what they agreed to in our prior contract and avoid a costly arbitration of our Unit 18 salary grievance by implementing the missing 2 1/3% raises for 2019 that we bargained for in our last contract but that UC admin has thus far failed to provide. UC admin rejected our offer to extend the contract

In the end, UC admin refused to even acknowledge that our most urgent concerns are problematic. They are content with the status quo of churning faculty constantly, benefiting from our unpaid labor, keeping us on short-term, part-time contracts, denying us benefits, and using flawed assessment methods. Their “generous” compensation package is so low that it is unlikely to keep up with inflation over the next five years--amounting to an effective pay cut.

Mia responded, “There’s no doubt that raising compensation for teaching faculty is a core priority for us in successor bargaining, but one of the reasons that we structured our contract extension proposal in the way we did was to really say unambiguously that the working conditions for pre-continuing faculty on many campuses are absolutely miserable. And we will keep bargaining until we find solutions to end that misery.” Our contract has expired, but our fight continues.

Our Fight Continues...and, Fight We Will!

UC’s proposals have failed to acknowledge that Unit 18 faculty are a vital part of the University's teaching mission: they insist on “self-terminating” appointments, refuse to take responsibility for timely appointment notice, they doubly disadvantage the most vulnerable faculty by locking them out of both UC’s retirement benefits and Social Security, they remain content to benefit from our free labor, and they cling to meaningless numerical student evaluations to assess teaching faculty, despite mountains of evidence demonstrating that arbitrary quantification does not measure teaching effectiveness.

We have identified our core demands and given UC the opportunity to respond with proposals that will improve job security, end unpaid work, establish fair, manageable and consistent workload standards, and provide a livable income for UC communities. On the eve of our contract’s expiration, UCOP tried to buy us off with a proposal that ignores our key demands and proposes paltry pay increases that are below the inflation rates for the expensive cities where we work.

So, we will continue our tough approach to negotiations and our strong organizing work with our members and allies. We will fight for the contract we and our students deserve.