Student’s Facebook post calls attention to lecturers’ working conditions

Ruby Sapia/Staff

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On Friday, campus junior Eliza Davis posted a Google form on Facebook to raise awareness for UC lecturers’ working conditions, as well as to garner student support.

Although lecturers make up 40% of UC faculty, according to the form, many are paid low wages and can face the possibility of termination without cause. The form also mentions that students can receive updates from the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, or UC-AFT, on Facebook.

“Most lecturers aren’t going to talk to their students about their working conditions,” Davis, whose mother is an educator, said. “I also eventually want to go into academia, and understanding that we have this second class of workers … is something that’s just really alarming.”

About 10 people have responded to the form, according to Davis. Most people have shared stories about specific lecturers who have made a difference in their lives.

Mia McIver, the president of the UC-AFT, said that while she was unaware of the Google form, she was excited to see that it had been posted. “What it says to me is that students and faculty are going to work hand in hand to get a really great contract for our faculty,” McIver added.

The UC-AFT bargaining coalition is made up of more than 6,500 UC employees, including lecturers and librarians. One of the main goals of the UC-AFT is equalizing tenure and nontenure track educators on UC campuses, according to McIver.

More than one-third of UC undergraduate student credit hours are taught by lecturers who have a median salary of $19,900. Lecturers are often hired on part-time, short-term contracts, according to McIver. The UC-AFT specifically advocates for greater job security and living wages for lecturers, said Crystal Chang Cohen, the communications chair of UC-AFT, in an email.

“Lecturers love working with students. It is why we do what we do, but many of us are struggling to make ends meet,” Cohen said in the email. “If the university wants to invest in undergraduate education, then they should be investing in the faculty that teach 40% of the student credit hours on campus.”

Campus sophomore and labor relations officer at the UC Student Association, or UCSA, Josh Lewis, said in an email that the UCSA plans to support the UC-AFT using the student collective bargaining representative program.

Lewis noted in the email that the UCSA continues to expand its partnership with labor and will welcome the opportunity to do so in the future.

“UCSA strives to uplift the voices of workers in their bargaining efforts and holds equity, fairness, and good-faith as core values in this goal,” Lewis said in the email.

UC Office of the President spokesperson Stett Holbrook said in a statement that the UC is working with UC-AFT to quickly negotiate a fair agreement.

“Our goal is a multi-year contract that includes fair pay and excellent benefits and that recognizes the significant contributions our lecturers make to UC and students,” Holbrook said in an email.

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.