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UC-AFT Table Team Statement on Contract Expiration and Feb 3 Rallies


Statement from UC-AFT Table Team on Contract Expiration and Feb 3 Rallies
February 1, 2020

We started this bargaining campaign with one goal in mind: for the University of California to be the standard-bearer in fair, equitable working conditions for contingent faculty. As your bargaining team, we’ve poured ourselves into proposals that will ensure UC students get a world-class education and dramatically raise (to a basic level) the standard of living for UC’s teaching faculty.  

After more than nine months of negotiations, on the day before our contract expired, UC admin gave us an incomplete, take-it-or-leave-it, bundle of articles with little to no movement. Their ploy, as confirmed by an email from Peter Chester, UCOP’s Director of Labor Relations, which was distributed mere moments after the contract expired, is to use salary as a wedge to reduce our commitment to major improvements in job security and workload. We have a message for Peter Chester: Propaganda will not work on our members because we know that solidarity defeats precarity!     

UC has yet to make a serious proposal on any of our key demands: assigning available classes to current faculty before hiring new faculty, longer term pre-continuing appointments, more full-time teaching jobs, ending unpaid work, fair workload standards, and middle-class salaries. 

The compensation offer that UC put on the table on Thursday is conditioned on our dropping nearly every non-economic demand. But we are not for sale. Our students' learning conditions are not for sale. And, notably, every other UC union contract signed this year has included significantly higher salary increases than UC proposed for us this week.

As negotiators, we’ve learned that standing firm can start to shift the conversation. But we can’t do it alone. UC admin DOES NOT move without pressure. It’s up to YOU to apply that pressure. We have their attention. We also have momentum in our powerful and growing bargaining campaign. We’ve got to keep this momentum going. 

We need YOU to give voice to our demands in this historic fight for faculty equity and student success. And now that our no-strikes clause has expired, we have a new, powerful tool in our campaign. It’s really quite simple: our students deserve to have stable, well-resourced faculty. If the UC is serious about its teaching mission, it needs to invest in teaching faculty. Anything else is an injustice.

The fate of our campaign is in YOUR hands. Show up to our rally on Feb 3. Share your stories and experience, and let your colleagues know that you are committed to our demands and to this fight!  See details for actions on every campus below. RSVP now and invite your colleagues to join you on Monday.

Imagine what we can accomplish together, if every UC-AFT member says to UC admin: we need a fair contract now. We’re asking YOU to stand up for teaching, to stand together with us until we win. Solidarity defeats precarity! When we fight, we win. And with you leading the way, we will win.

In solidarity,

Mia McIver, Chief Negotiator, UCLA
Amber West, UCLA
Alison Lipman, UCLA
Stacy Steinberg, UCSD
Veronica Christie, UCSD
Ben Harder, UCR
Stephanie Ann-Wilms Simpson, UCR
Ket Lewin, UCI
Jonathan Keeperman, UCI
James Donelan, UCSB
Neil Schafer, UCSC
Tiffany Page, UCB
Ben Brown, UCB
Matt Oliver, UCD


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Stand Up for Teaching Rallies--Monday Feb 3 (Be there...really!!)

Steps of Mrak Hall @ noon

Sproul Plaza, noon

  • 12:00 -- Opening - Crystal Chang Cohen (5 minutes)

  • 12:05 -- Labor Choir Song 1

  • 12:10 -- Student Speeches

    • James Kennerly - YDSA

    • Sheyda Khonji - USAS 720/AFSCME

    • Mac Hoang - Underground Scholars

  • 12:20 -- Labor Choir Song 2

  • 12:25 -- Faculty/Lecturer Speeches

    • Michael Burawoy - Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association

    • Ben Brown - Cal Law Lecturer and Table Team Member

  • 12:35 -- Statewide Sing-Along Solidarity Forever

  • 12:40 -- Mass Calling Action--attendees call Janet Napolitano, Carol Christ, and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul Alivisatos to demand a fair contract for lecturers

  • 12:55 -- Group Photo w/ Signature Poster

Santa Cruz
11:30 Quarry Plaza rallying speeches
11:45 March with signs to Kerr Hall Administrative Building
12:00 Rally at Kerr Hall. Speeches by Lecturers, Graduate students, AFSCME members, Santa Cruz City Council, Senate Faculty
Letter-signing action for the Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor, and Dean of Undergraduate Students
Performance: "We Won't Do the Time Warp Again!" and surprise songs, with a performance by lecturer Peter Weiss, "The Singing Scientist"
Graduate students will lead us to their next action: occupying dining halls for food-insecure graduate students

Santa Barbara
In front of Davidson Library @ 1pm

Los Angeles
Bruin Plaza Stage @ Noon
Speakers and New Orleans Jazz Band
March to Murphy hall @ 12:45-1:00

Outside of Rivera Library @ Noon (Tabling 10-2)

Flagpole @ noon

San Diego
Silent Tree (Outside of Geisel Library) @ 12:30 pm
Native Blessing, Speakers: students, grad students, senate faculty, union solidarity group, then march to deliver core demands to Chancellor's complex

Details TBA locally


UC-AFT Faculty Contract Expiration Jan 31, 2020 -- What it Means

When a contract expires and negotiations continue, a few things in the contract may be subject to change. This post explains those changes as they relate to the UC-AFT Faculty (Unit 18) MOU and it provides a brief description of the later stages of the negotiation process.

What happens when our contract expires on January 31?
Most things will stay the same. We will come to work as usual, teach as usual, have Excellence Reviews and Merit Reviews as usual, and get paid as usual. Upon expiration of the UC-AFT Faculty contract, the employer is legally obligated to maintain the status quo on items involving wages, hours, and benefits such as health insurance or other working conditions, like merit review process, until the parties negotiate an agreement or exhaust the statutory impasse procedures of mediation and fact finding. During the period after the contract has expired, it is unlawful for the employer to impose any unilateral changes as to these conditions.

How will a decision be made about whether to let the contract expire?
Our faculty negotiating team, which includes 15 volunteer UC-AFT faculty members from nearly every campus, will vote in late January on whether to extend the contract or let it expire.  The negotiating team will consider the relative strategic value of both options.  To guide our decision, we will also seek the input of the Contract Campaign Committee, which includes member leaders from every campus.

Why would it be strategic to work under an expired contract?
The No Strikes clause, through which we forfeit our primary source of power while the contract is in effect, expires along with the rest of the contract.  Letting a contract lapse wins us back our right to strike.  This puts pressure on an employer because it represents a first step toward escalation.  Letting a contract expire sends a message to UC admin that we are serious about our core demands and won't stop bargaining until we see them get serious as well. 

Why would a union and an employer extend a contract past its original expiration date?
A union might opt to extend a contract when there has been significant progress toward an agreement.  If the contours of the next contract are apparent, it could make sense to wrap up negotiations under the terms of the current contract, with the union continuing to pledge not to strike.  In our case, we have been bargaining since April, and UC admin has not yet responded to some of our most important proposals that we presented to them over the summer.  In other areas, UC admin's counterproposals fail to demonstrate any significant acknowledgment of (let alone meaningfully engage with) the problems we have identified, analyzed, and proposed solutions to.

What will happen with bargaining if the contract expires?
Bargaining will continue.  We will continue to present counterproposals and seek solutions to the problems we have presented to UC admin, namely 1) teaching faculty being forced out or purged before they're eligible for job security, 2) lack of full-time work, 3) an epidemic of unpaid service and professional development labor, and 4) salaries that are too low to make ends meet. 

Do we automatically or immediately go on strike if the contract expires?
No.  In our democratic union, UC-AFT members must affirmatively vote to authorize a strike.  There are also several legal steps that unions and employers must go through before a strike may be called. Strikes require careful and intense organizing in order to reach as many union members and allies as possible.  To learn how to participate in these efforts, contact your campus's Contract Campaign Committee.

What are the risks of going out of contract?
Elimination of arbitration is probably the most significant area impacted by an expired contract. The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has held that contractual arbitration clauses do not continue in effect after expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. Once the contract has expired, the only matters that may continue to arbitration are: (1) disputes involving facts and occurrences that arose before expiration or (2) cases involving post-expiration conduct that infringes on rights accrued or vested under the agreement. We are reviewing all current issues and plan to submit grievances in advance of expiration where appropriate.

Once the contract has expired there are certain contractual terms that the employer is permitted to unilaterally change; management rights and no strikes clauses are two examples. Other provisions that are subject to unilateral change are those subjects that fall within the narrow scope of permissive (or non-mandatory) bargaining. In the current Unit 18 MOU, there is little, if anything, of substance that falls within this scope.

Can we strike after the contract expires?
Under the Higher Education Employee Relations Act (HEERA), related statutes and applicable case law, the union cannot go on strike until and unless the parties have reached and declared an impasse and have exhausted all post-impasse resolution procedures. PERB has consistently held that strikes that occur before completion of the statutory impasse procedures create a rebuttable presumption that the union has violated its duty to negotiate in good faith or to participate in good faith in the impasse resolution process. PERB has also held that a strike during negotiations or before exhaustion of the impasse resolution process may constitute an "illegal pressure tactic" and therefore an unfair practice by refusing to negotiate in good faith. (Fresno Unified School District (1982) PERB Dec. No. 208.)

How is impasse declared?
HEERA states that "impasse means that the parties have reached a point in meeting and conferring at which their differences in positions are such that further meetings would be futile." (Gov't Code sec. 3562(j).) Once impasse has been found, the parties are obligated to participate in good faith in the statutorily mandated procedures for resolving impasse, including mediation and, if ordered by the mediator, fact-finding. At this point in our negotiations, we are nowhere near impasse. Impasse would not be found until there has been substantial back and forth between the parties on substantive proposals without any progress being made. In determining whether an actual impasse exists, PERB will consider several factors including: (1) the number and length of negotiating sessions and the period of time over which these sessions occurred; (2) the extent to which the parties presented and discussed counter proposals; (3) the extent to which the parties reached tentative agreements on negotiated issues; and (4) the extent to which issues remain unresolved.