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UC-AFT Faculty Bargaining Update #9 UC Merced November 14-15


Bargaining on the Campuses Continues to Build Our Power

We’re proud to have brought UC-AFT faculty bargaining to UC Merced for the first time ever. Our bargaining team loved being on the innovative and quickly-growing campus, and our members appreciated having first-hand access to the bargaining room, where we were also joined by grad student and post-doc allies.


Our Proposals are Backed By National Trends & Senate Support is Growing

We shared the resolution recently passed by the UC Berkeley Academic Senate Division Council in support of us and our demands. A similar resolution was adopted by the UC Santa Cruz Division of the Academic Senate, and additional statements of support are in the works on other campuses. We’re grateful for this faculty solidarity and the recognition that precarity and contingency are problems for a united faculty to solve.

We also shared a recent article about the unpaid, unevenly-distributed labor of writing letters of recommendation. The authors posit that teaching faculty who prioritize being accessible to students and developing meaningful pedagogical relationships “may be receiving more requests” to write letters of recommendation. Yes, we are! Yet our “support [of students] is little more than pure altruism” in a university like the UC that paradoxically refuses to credit or compensate this labor while evaluating us on whether we help students succeed. As we told UCOP, we love working with our students, but unpaid altruism should not be a condition for teaching at the UC. There’s a national conversation going on about this issue, and we agree with the article authors that the heavy unseen labor of writing letters of recommendation “needs to emerge as an explicit dimension of faculty workload.” Our Workload proposal (Article 24) thus includes it in a recognized and compensated service and professional development component of our appointments. UCOP has had our proposal since July, but has yet to respond.

UC Admin Bargaining Tactics: Sarcasm, Man(agement)splaining, Gaslighting, Stonewalling

On Office Space: When we objected to UC-AFT faculty members being denied office space and forced to hold office hours in cafes and coffee shops, UCOP Lead Negotiator Nadine Fischel dismissed our substantiated concern as “a pedantic example.”

On Moving Expenses: UCOP rejected our proposal for partial reimbursement of moving expenses when we relocate from a long distance (a perk that senate faculty and executives currently enjoy). UCOP’s lawyers and executives claimed that the incentive is unnecessary because they have no difficulty recruiting teaching faculty. When we pointed out that Becky Gubser (UC Merced Academic Personnel) had, earlier in this very bargaining session, described the challenges of recruiting teaching faculty to UC Merced, Gubser shifted to calling moving expenses “ineffective” for recruitment. When asked why they nonetheless provided such reimbursement for tenured faculty and executives if it was so fiscally questionable, their only justification was that it is a systemwide policy. As we seek to negotiate such a systemwide policy, Admin’s circular logic gets in the way of any real progress toward an agreement.

On Personnel and Review Files: We had proposed a 14-day window prior to a performance review (reappointment, Excellence, or Merit) for teaching faculty to respond to documents in their review dossiers. This is a right that promotes transparency and to which tenured faculty are entitled. UC Admin completely rejected our proposal. They tried to gaslight us into believing that our proposal was “duplicative”—that a response timeline is already guaranteed by our current contract. It is not. When we asked them to point to the contract language they were referring to, they could not. Indeed, that’s why we made the proposal.

On Providing Information Necessary and Relevant to Bargaining: In order to draft our bargaining proposals, we submitted a Request for Information seeking data about Excellence and Merit Review since February 2016, when our current contract was ratified. Our RFI was intentionally narrow, focused only on the start and end dates of the reviews during this period, along with their outcomes. In lieu of a response, last July UC Berkeley provided a cost estimate for retrieving the information: $52,000. The information would be retrieved from personnel files by an Administrative Analyst (average annual salary: $49,127). UC Berkeley wants to charge us an analyst’s annual salary to provide a small amount of data that other campuses have provided without difficulty or charge. At Merced, UCOP re-presented us with this estimate, as though it was brand new and we hadn’t been bargaining over it for the past four months. We’ve continue to bargain over the outlandish cost in order to get the data we need to negotiate.

On Proposals: As we said to UC Admin at Merced, we view their proposals as an encapsulation of the UC’s values and as an index of their respect for faculty and students. The proposals we’ve received so far—eliminating reappointment for pre-continuing faculty and jeopardizing continuing appointees’ job security as well—have signalled nothing but disrespect. The same is true of the proposals we haven’t received. We’re approaching a full six months without a response from UC Admin on our most important demands. On our major priorities, rehiring rights and pathways to full-time teaching, and workloads that accurately reflect the full range of faculty duties, UC has been stonewalling. We passed our Article 7a-Pre-Continuing Appointments in June and our Article 24-Workload in July. At UC Merced, Admin signalled no intent to provide their counter-proposals any time soon while blaming us for the slow pace of negotiations. When will they come to the table ready to fully engage?

UC-AFT Passes Four New Proposals: New Employee Orientations, Release Time for UC-AFT Business, Union Rights and Management Rights

In our new, New Employee Orientations article, we proposed that every new teaching faculty member receive an orientation that speaks to their professional needs and interests, introduces them to their department chairs and other key personnel, and educates them about the rights and responsibilities conferred by our union contract. At UCLA, our biggest campus, fewer than 1% of hires have received a new employee orientation in the last two years—a pitiful percentage that speaks to UC Admin’s reluctance to invest in its teaching faculty.

In Release Time for UC-AFT Business, we proposed adequate release time for our volunteer member negotiators and stewards, who dedicate enormous amounts of personal time and energy to advocating for their colleagues. As this comparison chart shows, our proposal is quite modest compared to what UC Admin provides for other union representatives.

In our Union Rights proposal, we are trying to strengthen our ability to meet with and effectively represent our members. We’re also seeking to stop UC admin from selling our contact information to for-profit companies. You may have recently received an insurance solicitation from California Casualty. Yep, your employer sold your home address to a marketer.

In Management Rights, we’re seeking to remove elements such as class scheduling and performance reviews that are addressed in other articles of the contract to clarify that those are things on which we will reach mutual agreement, not things left to UC Admin to unilaterally decide.