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Unit 18 Bargaining Update #1- March 3-4, 2015


This is the first of many bargaining updates about our successor bargaining with the UC system. The bargaining team met with the UC on March 3rd and 4th, and we began negotiations by discussing the most crucial parts of our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University.

On Tuesday, March 3rd, both sides described their visions for retirement and employee benefits. The UC has taken the stand that our benefits should track everyone else’s. Although such a position is superficially fair, we need to improve specific aspects of Lecturer’s benefits packages:

  • ALL LECTURERS NEED SOCIAL SECURITY. Currently, people working less than 50% appointments are barred from Social Security, and are placed in a fake “Safe Harbor” retirement plan instead. The UC contributes nothing at all to these employees’ retirements.
  • ALL LECTURERS NEED ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTH INSURANCE. The UC is planning to replace the more economical health insurance plans with its in-house UC Care. We do not want to owe our souls to the Company Health Insurance Store. Likewise, Lecturers teaching less than 50% appointments should have some compensation for the absence of UC health contributions. After all, the University pays up to 15% of an employee’s salary in health insurance contributions—why should someone teaching part-time receive so much less compensation for the same course?

Also, the two parties discussed Article 6—Academic Year Appointments. The UC is trying to radically re-interpret this article. Currently, the language directs departments to give lecturers 12-month appointments when it knows that they will be teaching in every term of an academic year, and it demands that the UC transition the appointment into a 12-month appointment mid-year if need arises and the Lecturer will end up teaching in every academic term.

The UC wants to gut the article entirely, and turn it into a simple definition. In the future, if the UC gets its way, your departments will be able to hire you the day before every term, giving you no warning about your teaching appointments, even if they know in July that they want you to teach all year. This will remove your summer health insurance, reduce your retirement benefits even if you are full time, and limit your ability to find other work to raise your employment percentage to full time by working for other institutions.

  • ALL LECTURERS DESERVE STABLE APPOINTMENTS AND APPROPRIATE NOTICE. We are trying to strengthen the requirement that the UC tell lecturers what they will be teaching early, and to give lecturers 12-month appointments, so they have actual jobs, instead of unstable perma-temp positions.

On Wednesday, March 4th, the UC described its vision for Articles 7a, 7b, and 7c. These articles set out the rules and guidelines that Departments have to follow when they hire and re-hire pre-continuing Lecturers (those teaching their first 12 Semesters or first 18 Quarters), and the process for promoting a Lecturer into a continuing position. Continuing Lecturers don’t have to constantly reapply for their jobs, they enjoy a bit of actual academic freedom, and they have protections against arbitrary layoff.

The UC states that it wants to make clear, easy-to-follow contract language, and UC-AFT agrees that clarity is fine in principle. However, the University’s idea for clarifying language is to remove all the rules and guidelines for departments, so that they can (mis)treat Lecturers any way they desire.

Already, departments have too much latitude to exploit Lecturers, individually and as a group. We demand that new clear and easy-to-follow contract language should protect the security and freedom of Lecturers, not the whims of department chairs.

  • LECTURERS DESERVE FAIR HIRING AND REAPPOINTMENT PRACTICES. We are demanding transparent, consistent, and fair hiring and promotion practices.
  • LECTURERS DESERVE CONTINUING APPOINTMENTS IN FEWER THAN SIX OR TEN YEARS. We are pushing for a reduced probationary period for lecturers and credit for work done previously in other departments or campuses.
  • LECTURERS DESERVE FAIR EVALUATION AND EFFECTIVE MENTORING. Our contract proposals require consistent, transparent, and fair standards and procedures for evaluating our teaching. We are also refusing to be controlled by the ill-informed opinions of discontented students. We will limit the power of student evaluations to replace informed academic judgment of our teaching.

During Spring Break, we will meet with the UC again. On Wednesday, the 25th of March, we will discuss benefits and address some of the minor technical articles in our MOU. On Thursday, the 26th, we will explain to the UC our vision of transparent and fair guidelines for our employment as we introduce our improvements to Articles 7a, 7b, and 7c.

Benjamin Harder

Chief Negotiator, Unit 18