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UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Update #12 UC Berkeley January 15, 2020


UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Session #12

January 14 - 15, 2020

UC Berkeley


As Contract Expiration Approached, UC Canceled Day One of this Two Day Session

At 8pm on Monday the 13th, UC’s chief negotiator, Nadine Fishell, cancelled bargaining on 14th. This last minute cancellation cost us valuable time. The clock was ticking toward contract expiration and every minute counted. Most of our team had already travelled to Berkeley, so we made the most of it and had a productive day working in-person on our proposals.

UC Proposals Would Undermine Union Representation in Formal Processes

UCOP’s lead negotiator, Nadine Fishel, began by stating that the University had two proposals for our consideration. UCOP then returned counterproposals on Articles 4--Non-Discrimination and Article 19--Reassignment. We noted that the purpose of Article 4--Non-Discrimination is to ensure those who have experienced unlawful discrimination have support and representation from our union. We had proposed, and UC admin rejected, adding language regarding the procedures involving retaliation to clarify our union’s role. As in a number of other articles involving procedure, UC admin’s position is that some campus procedures cover all university employees and are therefore sufficient without union representation; our position is that our members are in particularly vulnerable positions, and deserve union representation in these areas.

UC-AFT Passes Key Proposals on Professional Concerns, Benefits, Mentoring & More

We responded with seven proposals: Article 9--Professional Concerns, Article 11--Benefits, Article 42--Online Instruction, Article 31--Mentoring, Article 34--Immigration Control and Reform Act, and two new articles, one regarding Senior Lecturers (provisionally named 7D), and another on Health, Safety, and Emergency Closures.

On Article 9 Professional Concerns, Meetings and Programs, our proposal establishes the right to paid leave for professional meetings and programs, and grants the same level of annual, per capita funding as Senate Faculty receive in a given department, program or unit. Our proposal would establish our right to participate on committees and have this work covered by the new Service and Professional Development component in our Article 24 Instructional Workload proposal. Our proposal also establishes Unit 18 faculty positions on all committees pertaining to teaching, instructional, pedagogical and/or curricular matters. Finally, our proposal would increase the level of funding in the Unit 18 Professional Development Fund from $200 per FTE in the bargaining unit to $2000 per faculty member in the bargaining unit. In addition, we made a case for preserving the ability of the Non-Senate Faculty Professional Development Fund to roll over funds from one year to the next, allowing the fund to accumulate and potentially fund large-scale, once-in-a-lifetime projects, and allowing for more flexibility in allocation.

In general, the difference between the UC admin’s positions and ours came down to autonomy: which rights and privileges were the exclusive province of administrators, supervisors, and ladder faculty, and which we could have a voice and a role in determining.

We then moved on to discuss our new proposal for Article 7D Senior Lecturer, which establishes a new procedure for promotion to Senior Lecturer. The current contract has no clear process for this kind of promotion; consequently, the job title is very rarely used, which is frustrating for continuing appointees who lack a clear career trajectory after they attain continuing status. Our proposal would establish a Senior Lecturer review six years (twelve semesters, eighteen quarters, or two merit reviews) after a lecturer receives a Continuing Appointment. Lateral hiring into the position—that is, awarding the title for a newly recruited lecturer—would still be permitted, but the new article would establish a path for lecturers already employed by the university. UC’s negotiators said they would take our proposal into consideration.

Our new Health and Safety Article, which defines the obligations of both the university and lecturers in the event of an emergency, was discussed briefly, and likewise received by UC admin without much comment.

On Article 11 Benefits, our proposal would make all Unit 18 teaching faculty eligible for UCRP, a shift that would open the door to Social Security benefits for part-time teaching faculty, who under current UC policy are excluded from UCRP and thereby excluded from Social Security. In addition, we proposed a new education benefit to reduce either a lecturer’s own UC-related student debt or that of a family member. We also proposed a new child care benefit and language to strengthen access to existing housing benefits, including mortgage assistance. The negotiations ended with a difficult discussion about percentage of employment, medical benefits, and retirement benefits. The essence of our proposals is to reduce the harm done to our most vulnerable members by benefits-eligibility thresholds, either by lowering the thresholds or raising the percentage of employment, or at the very least, making these conditions less subject to abrupt and capricious changes

On Article 31 Pre-Continuing Mentoring, our proposal would require an initial meeting, within one month of the start date, where the department or program chair would provide information about program requirements and expectations. Also, an experienced Unit 18 or senate faculty mentor would be assigned to provide ongoing guidance and orientation to the program and to reappointment and promotion process. A second meeting with the chair would be required in the year of the sixth semester or ninth quarter.

On Article 34 Immigration and Control and Reform Act, our proposal would ensure that our members are given adequate notice and time to correct any issues regarding compliance with the ICRA.

On Article 42 Online Instruction, our proposal is a major update to this article and would ensure appropriate institutional support for development and teaching of online courses, including fair workload standards and protections and compensation for associated additional work. Our proposal would also require improved notification of and negotiation over courses being converted from in-person to online.

Overall, the tone of the negotiations seemed to have improved somewhat in this session, but UC’s negotiators in general continued to show reluctance either to clarify procedures or to establish new ones that provide more humane working conditions for teaching faculty.