University of California and academic employee union ratify new contract for lecturers

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The University of California and a union representing academic employees ratified a new two-year contract that raises wages for university lecturers, according to a Thursday announcement from the UC Office of the President.

The new agreement gives the more than 3,000 lecturers employed by the university a retroactive 3.5 percent wage increase for the 2013-14 fiscal year starting July 1, 2013, as well as other provisions including increased funding for professional development. It also contains a guarantee that any increase in wages given to nonunionized academic employees in 2014 will also be given to unionized lecturers.

“Our lecturers play a key role in our instructional mission, and we are delighted to have this agreement in place,” said Dwaine Duckett, the university’s vice president of systemwide human resources, in a press release. “This is a great example of working through the issues together so we can focus on continuing to advance the university’s mission together.”

Ninety-eight percent of union members from the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which negotiated the deal, voted to ratify the contract, according to the union’s president, Bob Samuels.

As part of the terms, union workers approved the university’s recent changes to employee pension plans and health care benefits. The changes call for the implementation of a new pension tier that raises the minimum UC retirement age from 50 to 55 and the maximum retirement benefit age from 60 to 65 as well as an increase in retirement plan contributions from both the university and its employees, according to the university’s Future of UC Retirement Benefits website.

Samuels said union members were generally satisfied with the negotiations.

“We’re going to be paying more … and it’s going to take longer to retire, but it was a trade off with the increased salary,” Samuels said. “We wanted to make sure all current employees stay in the current pension plan, but we weren’t able to.”

The contract will expire June 1, 2015.

News editor Virgie Hoban contributed to this report.

Alison Fu is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @alisonfu_.