University Council-American Federation of Teachers and UC Office of the President reach impasse in bargaining for lecturer pay

photo of speaker at UCAFT rally
Lisi Ludwig/File
The University of California-American Federation of Teachers and the UC Office of President have reached an impasse in negotiations.

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The University Council-American Federation of Teachers, or UC-AFT, reached an impasse Tuesday with the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, in the latest round of negotiations.

The negotiations — which lasted from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday morning followed UC-AFT’s recent authorization of a strike to secure better pay for UC lecturers. At the end of the bargaining sessions, both sides decided to move forward to request a Declaration of Impasse from the Public Employment Relations Board, according to Joanna Reed, a campus continuing lecturer in the sociology department and co-chair of UC-AFT’s Bay Area Chapter.

The impasse signals that both UC-AFT and UCOP have been unable to reach an agreement on the demands made after multiple bargaining sessions. Although it is unclear how long the impasse will last, it could range from a few months to years, Reed added.

Reed also stated that an impasse is not the end of the bargaining process for UC-AFT. During the impasse period, UC-AFT may choose to strike, but for the most part, negotiations will be put on hold.

Both parties will be obligated to participate in mediation, and, if requested by the mediator, a fact-finding procedure, according to UC-AFT’s website.

If a legal strike occurs, local UC-AFT leaders would work to support lecturers and students in the process, the website added. Though UC-AFT is not obligated to strike, the website notes that it may increase leverage in negotiations.

“A lot of us are doing some amazing work for the University of California in terms of supporting students, and so it hurts us to see that work not be recognized,” Reed said.

Negotiations between UC-AFT and UCOP began in early 2019. Demands made by UC-AFT were grouped into three main priorities: a raise in the median annual salary, which is currently $19,067; better job security for part-time lecturers and compensation and recognition for after-hours work done by UC lecturers, Reed added.

According to the UC-AFT website, 30% of UC lecturers are not rehired each year, which allegedly leads to a lack of job stability and is detrimental to students’ education.

According to Reed, UCOP offered modest compensation in response to UC-AFT’s demands, but she felt it was “underwhelming.” Reed said a number of substantial changes made to lecturers’ contracts over the years have resulted from changes in California state law that the UC system must comply with.

“Students continue to be deprived of more experienced and committed teachers,” Reed said. “We have been able to negotiate some small improvements to our contract, but our three main priorities have not been met by the UC administration.”

UCOP has not responded to a request for comment as of press time.

Contact Lianna Leung at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @LeungLianna.