UC-AFT, UCOP contract negotiations move toward potential impasse

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The University Council-American Federation of Teachers and the UC Office of the President made little progress on lecturer contract negotiations this week as they approach a potential impasse.

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The University Council-American Federation of Teachers, or UC-AFT, and the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, made little progress on lecturer contract negotiations this week as they approach a potential impasse, according to Kendra Levine, UC-AFT Unit 17 chair and research librarian.

Even before the expiration of the contract for Unit 18, which represents non-Senate faculty, Jan. 31, 2020, UCOP and UC-AFT have been bargaining on three main topics: job stability, compensation and workload. Levine said UC-AFT has been advocating for a stronger rehiring guarantee for lecturers, who are currently mostly hired on a term-by-term basis.

“We’ve made some progress on small things and have some ‘tentative agreements’ with the University, but we have not made a lot of progress on the three core demands of the campaign,” said Joanna Reed, continuing lecturer in sociology, in an email.

UCOP spokesperson Ryan King, however, said the UC system did move toward some compromises in the latest round of negotiations this week.

He added that they have built on the proposal that the UC system offered to UC-AFT at an April 16 bargaining session.

“We believe that our proposal demonstrates our good faith and recognition of the invaluable instructional role lecturers play in educating our students,” King said in an email.

King added that the offer included increased compensation for members with lower salaries, as well as increased job stability for lecturers.

Levine also discussed the impact on students that lecturer job instability could have.

“It translates into the classroom,” Levine said. “A lot of the students understand that the teacher you really connected with, they might not be there next semester, and that’s hard.”

Levine added that contract negotiations are heading towards an impasse when both sides deem that there is no more progress that can be made.

Once the impasse is reached, they will undergo a legal process where offers will be sent to an arbitrator who will rule in favor of one way or the other, according to Levine.

“I hope that they can resolve the contract before that, but it really just depends on whether or not UC is going to move on better rehiring rights so there’s more job stability for lecturers,” Levine said.

She added that following an impasse, there will not be much information coming out about the process and negotiations will be put on hold.

Before then, however, Reed said bargaining will continue.

“Our contract is only as good as the union can make it,” Levine said. “I see it as another way to make UC a really great place to work and to go to school.”

King added that the UC system remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached.

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.