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UC-AFT Reaches Agreement with Adminstration on COVID Effects

Thank you for being a UC-AFT member! Your dues directly support collective bargaining and made our COVID-19 agreement possible.
Your UC-AFT Unit 18 COVID-19 bargaining team, including higher ed lecturers from multiple campuses and K-12 instructors from the Preuss School (UC San Diego), Geffen Academy (UCLA), and Lab School (UCLA), has secured an agreement from UC management on COVID-19 issues.
Over the past year, your dedication to your students under extremely challenging circumstances has been unwavering. Our union's dedication to protecting you has been equally steadfast. During negotiations, we pushed for months in the face of a largely unresponsive and dismissive administration. When UC management unilaterally declared that they weren't going to bargain with us over COVID-19 issues, we didn't give up. We filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the Public Employment Relations Board and successfully compelled UC management back to the table.
Our persistence worked. I'm incredibly proud of what we've won in this agreement. However, this is not the last word on UC admin's COVID-19 measures. Fall re-opening will present its own challenges, and we look forward to negotiating additional provisions specific to fall 2021.
Below is a summary of the new agreement. The full text is available here. I'm hosting two town halls next week to walk through the provisions, answer your questions, and hear what you need for a safe and successful 2021-2022 academic year. Click the dates below to register.
Unit 18 Faculty COVID-19 Zoom Town Halls
Unit 18 Faculty COVID-19 Agreement Summary
  • For all Unit 18 faculty, we won enforceable health and safety protocols for sanitation, facilities, testing, contact tracing, and notification of positive COVID cases.
  • For K-12 instructors, we achieved protections for work hours and locations, performance evaluations, social distancing, ventilation, masking, testing, and cleaning.
  • If you're assigned to teach in person but seek to teach remotely, you have the right to request a workplace adjustment from your department to continue working from home.
  • Department chairs and other reviewers are required to take the COVID-19 context into account when evaluating you for reappointment, continuing appointment, or merit increase. They cannot penalize you for COVID-related circumstances that are out of your control.
  • The use of Spring 2020 student evaluations of teaching (SETs) in Excellence and Merit Reviews is optional for lecturers. If you prefer to exclude your Spring 2020 SETs from your review file, you do not have to do anything. If you prefer to include your Spring 2020 SETs in your review file, you must let your department know within 45 days of the initiation of your Excellence or Merit Review.
  • You have the right to postpone your Excellence Review if it is being conducted this academic year (2020-2021) or next (2021-2022) and you would like more time to build your review dossier. If your Excellence Review is already underway and you would like to defer it, you must request a postponement in writing from your department chair no later than April 1, 2021.
  • Our current Unit 18 contract obligates departments to fulfill appropriate and reasonable requests for instructional support. This has been true throughout COVID-19. The new agreement reaffirms this obligation. If you've purchased supplies or equipment out-of-pocket so you can teach from home and haven't been reimbursed, you should request reimbursement from your department (even if you already have), citing this new agreement.

    (If your request for reimbursement is denied, be sure to let us know here. We've filed Unfair Labor Practice charges over UC management's refusal to compensate us for more COVID-19-related work than our contract authorizes and their refusal to reimburse us for necessary teach-from-home supplies. These are clear violations of the Workload and Instructional Support articles of our main Unit 18 contract, and we're seeking remedies including back pay. Look for more details about this ULP in your inbox soon.)

  • You're entitled to flexibility and academic freedom in determining whether and how your pedagogical priorities change as a result of teaching online. Because this right is enshrined in our agreement, you cannot be penalized in a performance review for revising your teaching content or methods to meet the needs of your students.
  • You have the right to postpone your 3rd-year mentoring meeting if it would be more useful at a later time.
  • UC management must provide masks and other protective health and safety supplies to all UC-AFT faculty who are teaching in person.
  • If you're working in person and encounter an unsafe situation (for example, another person in a classroom or office is not wearing a mask), you have the right to remove yourself from the situation without fear of penalty or discipline.
  • While teaching remotely, your course materials are protected as your own intellectual property.
  • UC-AFT strongly supports universal access to COVID-19 vaccines for all UC workers. We've been working hard to ensure that Unit 18 lecturers are prioritized for vaccination opportunities in the same manner as other UC employees, including tenure-track faculty. We've also ensured that Unit 18 members will not be at risk of losing their jobs simply because they have not received a COVID vaccine.
Collective Action Won This Agreement
As we celebrate this COVID-19 agreement, I especially want to commend our courageous UC-AFT teachers at the UCLA Lab School. When it seemed likely that the Lab School administration was intent on forcing an illegal return to in-person instruction that would have endangered teachers and students, UC-AFT members organized to fight back.
On the eve of the illegal re-opening, Lab School teachers conducted a strike authorization vote. 97% of Lab School teachers voted to authorize our bargaining team to call a strike if it were the only way to get UC admin to obey the law. Their solidarity made the difference and motivated UC management to complete bargaining before reopening. As a result, our union was able to win strong and enforceable health and safety protections for all UC-AFT faculty.
The lesson? Using our power as workers gives us tremendous leverage to protect health, safety, and educational integrity at the UC.
When we fight, we win.
In solidarity,