UC reaches tentative agreement with lecturers’, librarians’ union

The University of California announced Tuesday that it has reached two tentative agreements with the American Federation of Teachers union to provide various benefits and increases for the university’s more than 350 librarians and 3,000 lecturers.

Under the tentative agreement for lecturers, a number of conditions will go into effect, including participation in a one-time merit-based salary increase program for the 2011-12 academic year, as well as the regular academic merit program for the next two academic years. Negotiations on salary will be reopened in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Lecturers would also pay the same rates for health care benefits as tenured faculty and nonrepresented employees and would contribute 5 percent of their pay to the UC Retirement Plan — the same rate as nonrepresented employees.

The university expects to receive the results of the union’s ratification vote by mid-October, according to the announcement. If ratified by the union, the agreement would run through Sept. 30, 2014.

“Lecturers provide key instructional services at our campuses,” said Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president of human resources, in the press release. “We’re pleased that we’ve reached a balanced agreement that rewards the lecturers for their hard work while taking into consideration the major funding constraints that the university is experiencing.”

The tentative agreement for librarians, which includes being able to participate in the annual academic merit program for 2011-12 with increases effective July 1 and in a one-time merit-based salary increase program for 2011-12 effective Oct. 1, is currently being voted on by union members.

Librarians are resigned to the tentative agreement, said Shayee Khanaka, librarian for the linguistics and Middle East collections at UC Berkeley and a union member.

“It’s better than nothing, but there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement,” Khanaka said. “At this point, it’s hard to further negotiate — we’re fighting to just keep what we already have.”

The university expects to receive the results of the union ratification vote by Oct. 15. Union members are currently voting on whether  to accept the agreement.

“I think the agreement will go through,” Khanaka said. “The negotiating team has been working on this for weeks and has been able to achieve some of our goals — merit will be retroactive.”

University opinion on the librarian agreement was optimistic.

“We believe this is a fair proposal that rewards librarians for their dedication and hard work, while being mindful of the tough economic climate the university is facing,” said Peter Chester, labor relations contract negotiator for the University of California, in a press release.

Khanaka said, however, that keeping past benefits has become more difficult, while at the same time librarians have to contribute more than they ever have had to in previous agreements.

She said she does not see agreements improving in future negotiations unless the budget improves.

“It seems like we have to fight more for what we used to have,” she said. “Health care is more expensive, and our co-pay has increased. We are not getting the adjustments for higher costs of living but still have to pay for other things we used to just receive — so overall, we’re actually getting paid less than what we used to.”