During its Wednesday bargaining session with the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, or UC-AFT, a union that represents librarians and non-Senate faculty, the UC Office of the President put forth a proposal on job stability, which UC-AFT President Mia McIver deemed “the first step” toward negotiating a contract that UC lecturers will accept.
After nearly 18 months of bargaining, UC lecturers remain without a contract that UC Office of the President, or UCOP, spokesperson Stett Holbrook said is long overdue. With a focus on job stability, UCOP proposed a 1-1-2-2 plan at the meeting. This comes in response to UC-AFT’s 1-2-3 proposal in which lecturers would be hired under a one-year contract, then under a two-year one if they received a positive review and finally under a three-year contract until they reach six years and become a continuing lecturer.
Though the two plans are not identical, McIver is encouraged by this progress and attributes it to the dedication of UC-AFT members who organized a 520-person turnout at the meeting.
“Our members have been expending an extraordinary amount of energy and are incredibly committed to really improving the devastating contingency that lecturer faculty face,” McIver said. “The pressure that our members are bringing is working.”
Pre-continuing lecturer David Walter, however, said UCOP’s proposal did not go far enough.
Under their previous contract, UC lecturers could be hired under a one-year contract every year for six years before earning the job stability of a continuing lecturer, according to Crystal Chang, a lecturer at UC Berkeley and UC-AFT Local 1474 member.
Since 2003, when UC-AFT attained the right to continuing appointments, only 8% of lecturers have achieved this status even though, according to UC-AFT exit surveys, many who are not rehired wanted to continue working as a UC lecturer.
“That six years is really stressful because every year you’re waiting to find out if you’re going to get rehired,” Chang said. “So we were trying to fight for longer appointments after positive reviews.”
With that in mind, UC-AFT came into the meeting with four aims: rehiring rights for pre-continuing lecturers, longer successive appointments, a transparent review process of academic performance and accessible promotions for senior lecturers, according to McIver.
The four aims are intended to ensure that UC students have access to the faculty and education they deserve, according to McIver. She added that alone, any one of these conditions is not sufficient to obtain this goal.
UCOP proposed that negotiations over a two-year contract switch to a five-year contract Oct. 27, according to a UC-AFT press release. Having relinquished their compensation demands in light of the pandemic and in favor of a shorter contract, however, McIver said UC-AFT is hesitant to accept this proposal unless more of the union’s demands are met.
“Every year that we don’t bargain, we’re giving up an opportunity to improve our university and to improve our jobs, so to waive that for five years is a huge sacrifice,” McIver said. “We’re not going to give up our collective bargaining rights for a long term unless the university really steps up.”