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UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Update #24 July 29 Zoom


UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Session #24

July 29, 2020


UC’s Lead Negotiator Disavows High Faculty Turnover Rate

Representing the UC Office of the President, lead negotiator Nadine Fishel said that UC admin is “interested in solving problems and coming up with solutions.” But when asked directly whether UCOP considers a documented 26% annual turnover rate (meaning about 1600 teaching faculty lose their jobs each year) to be a problem, Fishel said she “wouldn’t necessarily characterize it as very high,” and told us that “assistant professors also don’t have job security, so you’re not the only employees at the UC in this situation.” Comparing contingent and precarious lecturers, who make a median annual salary of $19,067 and on average get work at the UC for only two years or less, to assistant professors on the tenure track is a refusal to acknowledge what we’ve laid out through data-based evidence, member testimony, and senate faculty corroboration: our employment conditions are unsustainable and compromise UC’s ability to promise students the best possible education.

Dozens of bargaining observers let UC’s executives and lawyers know they weren’t buying it. About 50 UC-AFT faculty members told UC’s negotiators that they would only vote to ratify a contract that provides significantly improved job stability for pre-continuing faculty. About 50 more UC-AFT senate faculty, student, and UC union allies were present to support that statement.

Articles Passed and Not Passed: Online Instruction, Health and Safety, Leaves of Absence

The current contract language on Article 42--Online Instruction is startlingly thin. We proposed a robust proposal covering training, support, maximum enrollments, and workload standards to ensure that UC teaching faculty are fully resourced and fairly compensated for teaching online. Our proposal also guards against the possibility the UC admin will seek to use the COVID-19 emergency as an occasion to convert more and more classes permanently online. This is a great illustration of how our working conditions are students’ learning conditions: we’re advocating that, when online instruction does happen, it be held to the same high standards for excellent student experiences that the UC offers in traditional classroom courses.

As they had warned in our previous bargaining session, UC’s negotiators passed a new counterproposal on Health and Safety that does not apply to public health emergencies. Their stated justification is that they’re only interested in bargaining over emergency situations that impede physical access to campus. Since March, their position has been that campuses remain physically open to UC-AFT faculty for teaching and completing other work despite rampant infectious disease. We responded that health and safety is a day-to-day concern as well as an emergency concern and that we were extremely disappointed to see them walk back their earlier proposal from January 2020, which we had previously agreed to accept as a tentative agreement.

On March 6th, 2020, nearly 8 months after we passed a proposal on Article 12--Leaves of Absence in July 2019, we received a long-overdue counterproposal from UC management. It was not formatted according to the conventions we mutually use to indicate areas where the proposal language has been changed compared to current contract language. For several months, in response to our queries about what in the proposal is new or different, we’ve heard from UC management that, although they proposed some revisions in line with current state and federal law on leaves of absence, they were generally not intending to propose many substantive changes to current contract language. Upon looking at just the first page of their proposal, we found significant changes that cast doubt on their representations. In today’s bargaining session, UC admin’s negotiators declined to point to areas of their own proposal that are new or revised. Therefore, we requested a properly formatted version of their proposal so that we know for sure what they are looking to change. We need to fully understand their bargaining position before we can formulate our next counterproposal.

UC Admin’s Lack of Respect for Students’ Rights

UCOP is obligated by CA state law to notify the UC Student Association of our bargaining sessions so that the UCSA may arrange for a student representative to attend and observe. To the best of our knowledge, UC has consistently failed to provide the required advanced notice. Today, UCOP’s representatives were unable to offer any evidence to the contrary. While we don’t claim to speak for UCSA, we believe that a university that is bargaining in the best interests of students’ education would not neglect to fulfill its duty to keep students apprised of bargaining.