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Unfair Practice Strike FAQ


newlogo.jpgWhat does it mean to go on strike?

A: A strike is a show of solidarity workers withhold labor from their employer to make our contributions and our power visible. For UC lecturers, that means no classes, no grading, no meetings, no asynchronous instruction, and no other teaching-related work for the duration of the strike. Instead, we join the picket line. On the picket line, we’ll use the time to support each other and send the message to the administration that our labor is critical for the functioning of our university and for our students’ success.


Why are lecturers going on strike now?
A: We are going on strike now because of bad faith by President Drake’s administration, that is, his administration’s refusal to negotiate as the law requires. Their violation of their duty to bargain in good faith is undermining our collective bargaining rights. At this point, given the impunity with which UCOP breaks state labor law, and their cavalier approach to their legal obligations, a strike is the only way to ensure that they hear our concerns and treat lecturers with the dignity and respect we deserve.


What is an Unfair Labor Practice?
A: The Higher Education Employee Relations Act (HEERA) establishes our rights to bargain collectively and outlines rules governing our relationships to the University of California. Violations of these rules, known as Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs), constitute unlawful conduct by our employer. Examples include: threatening employees or discriminating against employees because they participated in protected union activities; violations of the duty to bargain and participate in statutory impasse procedures in good faith; unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment that must be bargained; and repudiations of collective bargaining agreements and the collective bargaining relationship. Under California law, the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) adjudicates claims of Unfair Labor Practices Unions and can impose financial and legal penalties. Workers are also allowed to strike over ULPs in order to protest their employer’s labor law violations.

UC-AFT has recently filed ULP charges over UCOP’s refusal to bargain over paid family leave and their bad faith during statutory impasse procedures. This makes a total of seven ULPs UC-AFT has filed in the past 20 months over UCOP’s unilateral changes, refusals to bargain and repudiation of our contract.


Will a strike harm my students?
A: We believe the real harm to our students is in the current administration’s disrespect, mistreatment, and lack of support for us as teaching faculty. When President Drake’s administrators won’t bargain in good faith, they’re refusing to even participate in negotiations that could improve teaching and learning at our university.

The goal of our strike is NOT to hurt students. We are striking FOR and WITH students who are ill-served by an administration that won’t respect the rights of their instructors. For most lecturers, going on strike for two days will affect their classes as if they were briefly sick or traveling to a conference. We believe this short-term disruption will bring long-term benefits for ourselves and for our students so we can continue to offer them the high-quality education they deserve.

How long will a strike last?
A: Although we can’t confirm the dates yet, a strike would last no more than 2 days, probably a Wednesday and a Thursday.

How do I explain to my students why I’m cancelling class?
It is important to let your students know that you are striking because that is the only way to get UC’s attention to convince them to stop interfering with your rights. But it will be important to make clear to your students that you will be withholding all labor associated with your teaching for the duration of the strike. That includes office hours, email, course websites, synchronous remote instruction, asynchronous instruction, and service work (meetings, etc.), and that you will not be offering any substitutes for classroom instruction. Only by withdrawing our labor completely can we send a clear message to the administration that our work is critical to our students’ success.

You can (and should) stay in touch with your students during the strike via your personal (non-UC) email account to help them understand what’s happening, answer any emergency questions, and, if you wish, invite them to join you at the picket line. You can also share these five ways to support teaching faculty.


I’m still teaching remotely - can I participate?

A: Yes! All you have to do is not teach your class and turn off access to your website. If you are near your campus, turn out to the picket line so that you’re visible. We need to stand together in person to support each other and demonstrate our unity. If not, we could use your help calling, texting, and e-mailing fellow members to get them to the picket line. You can do all of that remotely if you are far from your campus.


Could I be fired for going on strike?
A: No! We are being very careful to ensure that we are striking legally so that our jobs are protected. Federal and state labor laws also protect workers from any retaliation they face for exercising their rights. But we also know that in academia, retaliation can come in more subtle forms. We must stand together to protect one another, because an injury to one is an injury to all.


Do I have to notify my colleagues or my department?
No, you are under no obligation to notify your department chair or administrators that you’ll be on strike. If they should ask you whether you’re on strike, you are not legally required to respond, but if you do choose to respond, you must do so truthfully. Lecturers often report feeling obliged to give advanced warning so their teaching duties can be covered by others. But in the context of a strike, finding replacements to do the work that someone on strike would usually do undermines the very purpose of the strike. It’s known as scabbing and it is not something you should invite or inadvertently encourage.

You should, however, tell your fellow teaching faculty that you’re planning to strike and encourage them to the picket line!


Will President Drake’s administration dock my pay?
While it is unlikely that UCOP would retaliate against a short-term strike, UC-AFT has set up a strike fund so that we can ensure our members are supported if President Drake tries to retaliate against our members financially. The fund will provide one-time grants of up to $750 to eligible dues-paying members to support them during any financial difficulties that may arise. Learn more and donate here.


I’m a Unit 17 librarian, how can I support the lecturers’ strike?
A: Under the current Unit 17 contract, librarians are not allowed to strike in solidarity with lecturers. But we encourage you to join the picket on your own, non-work time! Bring all your colleagues and friends. The more people we have on the picket line, the stronger we will be. You can also donate to our strike fund and boost our signal on social media.