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UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Update #11 UCSB December 12-13


UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Session #11

December 12-13, 2019

UC Santa Barbara


Solidarity from UC Senate Faculty: President of the Council of UC Faculty Associations Confronts UC Administration


Constance Penley, statewide president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) and UCSB senate faculty member, read a statement from CUCFA in support of our bargaining campaign and added her own powerful words of solidarity. She warned UCOP representatives “not to underestimate the strength of the ladder faculty support for our colleagues who are lecturers” and noted that major faculty and scholarly organizations such as AAUP and MLA have prioritized improving conditions for contingent faculty nationwide. She stressed that UCOP needs to finally “recognize, respect and reward the vital contributions that lecturers -- our colleagues -- make to the campus community.”


Harold Marcuse, a senate faculty member and former director of undergraduate studies in UCSB’s Department of History, noted how difficult and frustrating it is to recruit highly qualified, “star teachers” at the last minute for “one-quarter, one-course gigs” at salaries that don’t even cover the rent (and, in Santa Barbara, push UC teaching faculty to live in AirBnBs). Marcuse highlighted how important it is to recruit excellent lecturers when there are so few tenure-track lines, and how difficult it is to do so when working conditions are poor and job security is non-existent: “We’re taking people who are highly qualified in their fields and we’re treating them like the dregs.” He noted that our current Unit 18 contract hurts the UC’s mission as an educational institution: “I’m reading through the contract now and I’m finding the tone of the university just doesn’t serve our students.” Penley also called out UC admin’s negotiators, expressing shock at their “snideness and condescension, snark and disdain.”


Table Team_UCSB_2019.12.12.JPG

In addition to statements from senate faculty allies, our UCSB members delivered several deeply moving, and in some cases intensely personal, accounts of disrespect and disorganization by campus administrators with severe consequences for our members and our students. One of our members was forced into homelessness by her part-time position. The University would like us to end these testimonials ostensibly because they want to maximize the time we have for hard negotiations. Hard negotiations will only be possible when UC’s team understands that our bargaining demands live within these testimonials and our proposals are real solutions to the problems highlighted by our members’ stories.

UC Administrators Admit: “Nobody Thinks It’s a Great Job or a Gig You Would Want to Sign up for.”

Throughout the bargaining session, UCOP doubled down on its insistence that lecturers, who are indispensable to the University’s core mission, do not deserve meaningful job security measures. They weakly defend a status quo that deprives UC students of some of the best teachers in the world.

When pressed about whether it is OK for an excellent lecturer to be hired for 6 years and then purged just before they’re eligible for continuing appointments, UC’s Chief Negotiator, Nadine Fishel, admitted that lecturer conditions are exploitative: “Nobody thinks it's great or a gig you would want to sign up for.”

Nadine further implied that she felt no responsibility to reevaluate a broken system: “I didn’t build it but that’s how UC built its system.” This response completely ignores our detailed proposals for improving job security in the first six years, strengthening the continuing appointment with better access to new or newly available courses, and providing a clear path to the Senior Lecturer title for continuing lecturers. Consistent with this, UC’s counter proposal to our Article X, a thorough new article on review process, criteria, and expectations for reappointment, continuing, merit, and senior lecturer reviews, was to ignore our new article completely and instead move inadequate current contract language from Article 7B to Article 22 Merit Review. This counter offer from UC, once again, attempts to deny us the opportunity to meaningfully negotiate over our core issues.

Our team, however, did not miss the opportunity to insist on dialogue about the specifics and to point to the ways that UC’s counter failed to rise to our proposal. When we pressed UC admin on why they rejected our proposal to end the brutal practice of using hiring pools to solicit job applications when there are no actual job openings, the university refused to negotiate on the topic and characterized hiring practices as permissive, not mandatory, subjects of bargaining.

“I will say it once more. We do not have an obligation under HEERA to bargain over non-mandatory subjects...It’s a permissive subject of bargaining that we are not opting into bargaining.”

This is a weak, legalistic cop-out in response to our very tangible experience of how hiring pools are used to purge existing lecturers. To be clear, UC’s position is that their own insistence that we reapply for our jobs every year relieves them of any obligation to negotiate over the terms of rehire. It became very clear during this conversation that the only meaningful job security solutions available to us are multi-year appointments and severe limitations on the use of short-term and emergency contracts, which we have already defined and put forward in our proposals.

A highlight of the session occurred at a particularly tense moment in the discussion about security in the first six years and access to continuing appointments, when a UC Labor Relations representative stopped negotiations to raise the concern that our observers had exceeded the 44 person capacity of the room per fire code. UC admin was on the verge of kicking our observers out of the room when an astute member-observer quickly pointed to the sign on the wall noting that the official capacity was 49! Negotiations continued uninterrupted. Huge thanks to our members, as well as senate faculty and student allies, for showing up!

Our Proposals...and a Powerful Quote Encapsulating Our Goal

In addition to the extensive discussion on UC’s counter proposals outlined in brief above, UC-AFT passed (across the table) an addendum to Article 24 Instructional Workload and our initial proposal on Article 30 Discipline and Dismissal. The addendum to Article 24 clarifies that cooperative labor-management working groups would be convened on each campus to shepherd through the implementation of our proposed Workload changes, which aim to compensate our faculty for service and professional development work that is currently largely unpaid. Our initial proposal on Article 30 Discipline and Dismissal ensures progressive discipline by substantially clarifying the steps of due process.

UC admin reiterates over and over again that our jobs are “self-terminating.” Their grotesque term ignores students’ needs and abdicates responsibility for ensuring that every UC student gets a great education.

“The work of teaching at the UC is not self terminating. The structure of our appointments needs to reflect that our students are not going away. And we want our students to have a stable faculty. If a department chair wants to hire a faculty member for whatever reason, presumably because they are a great teacher, why does the department not have the budget to hire the teacher? This is the underlying structural question. This is the biggest horizon of our proposals...invest in teaching.”

—Mia McIver, UC-AFT Chief Negotiator