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UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Update #23 Zoom July 22


UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Session #23

July 22, 2020


UC-AFT Passes Three Proposals on Job Stability, New Faculty Orientations, and Release Time

Nearly 100 UC-AFT members and supporters backed the UC-AFT volunteer faculty negotiators as they presented our latest counterproposal on Article 7a--Pre-Six Appointments. We’re standing firm on our demands for rehiring rights, multi-year appointments, earlier appointment letters, notice of non-reappointment, and peer-reviewed evaluations of teaching. New to this proposal was the incorporation--and improvement--of UC management’s idea that we email our department chairs about what we want to teach. (Under their proposal chairs would be free to ignore or disregard our preferences entirely.) We showed UCOP’s negotiators evidence that we do already this when we re-apply for our own jobs--the jobs ads for our positions require it. While their proposal wouldn’t save our jobs or reduce teaching faculty turnover in a meaningful way, a consistent and predictable process for requesting additional classes isn’t a bad thing, so we adapted their proposal and added it to our Article 7a.

We also passed an entirely new proposal on new employee orientations. UC management has consistently rejected our demands that new UC-AFT faculty receive department-level orientations that introduce them to department personnel (chairs, managers, etc.) and focus on what academics need to know to thrive: things like library access, textbook and desk copy ordering, student support contacts, and other faculty resources. In light of their resistance, we’re proposing something completely different: instead of holding campus-wide orientations (which are poorly attended because they’re poorly publicized, facilitated by administrators, and widely seen as irrelevant to faculty needs), we’re proposing that UC-AFT representatives be able to meet with each new faculty member at the time they sign their hiring paperwork. This access to a union representative when starting a new job is guaranteed by CA state law.

Finally, we passed a counterproposal on Article 26--Release Time for UC-AFT Business. Members of our faculty bargaining unit who are serving as stewards or members of a bargaining team receive dramatically less release time compared to members of other UC unions. We’re seeking to bring our contract more into line with those other UC union contracts. UC admin’s position is that we don’t need comparable release time because, if we’re attending a grievance resolution meeting or bargaining session, we can complete our work at a later time, for example at night or on a weekend. They have not acknowledged that we teach highly specialized course material with very specific pedagogies, making it difficult if not impossible for substitute instructors to step in for us when we’re advocating for our colleagues.

UC’s Negotiators Cling to Outdated Myth

In passing us a proposal on Article 17--Layoff, UC’s lead negotiator Nadine Fishel continued to espouse what she’s often said before: lecturers only exist at the UC to “fill gaps” in teaching needs. If this was ever true (it probably wasn’t), it’s certainly not now. Lecturers teach one-third of all undergraduate credit hours as student enrollments continue to rise. UC students aren’t going away, and neither is the UC’s need for excellent teaching faculty. UC-AFT faculty aren’t simply interchangeable widgets that keep the machine of the university going. Students need our scholarly expertise and our finely-tuned teaching practices. Fishel claimed that the UC’s only commitment is to continuing lecturers. If that remains true, it’s a betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of UC students who are taught by pre-continuing lecturers--what is the UC’s commitment to them?

We Reached Tentative Agreements with UC Management on Three Articles

We reached tentative agreements on our Medical Separation, Reassignment, and Reasonable Accommodation articles.

In Article 16--Medical Separation, we have successfully replaced a staff process, in which university administrators had more unilateral authority to terminate someone’s employment for medical reasons, with a process more appropriate for faculty that protects UC-AFT members when administrators allege they’re too disabled to work.

In Article 19--Reassignment, we secured the right for individual UC-AFT members to be consulted if UC admin wants to move us to a different department. We also negotiated strong notification rights so that our union can effectively represent UC-AFT members who object to a reassignment.

In Article 20--Reasonable Accommodation, we won the right to request disability accommodations in a variety of formal and informal ways (written, spoken, by someone acting on our behalf). We persuaded UC’s negotiators to take our preferences into consideration when seeking accommodations through the interactive process. We bargained the right to be notified if our job duties are going to change as a result of reasonable accommodations. Perhaps most important of all, we will now be able to return to the interactive process if a previously-agreed on accommodation no longer works in the way it was intended.

If UC Admin Is Serious about Reaching an Agreement, Why Do They Keep Backing away from Their Own Proposals?

UC management rejected our proposal to sign a tentative agreement on their own March 6th proposal for Article 6, which defines appointment types. This is one of those cases where management is playing games: we agree to their proposal, and then they say, oops, they didn’t really mean it, they don’t actually want to sign off on it after all.

They’re playing this game with our new Health and Safety article also. In June, we agreed to sign off on management’s own proposal on health, safety, and emergency procedures. Today, they advised us that they’re no longer standing by their proposal because they want to “exclude the pandemic.” Our table team and observers couldn’t believe their ears: exclude a public health crisis from an article about emergencies? In order for bargaining to proceed constructively, we need to know that, when UCOP passes us a proposal, it’s something we can trust them to commit to.