UC-AFT receives bargaining proposal update from UC Office of the President

Photo of signs used at the UC-AFT rally
Sunny Shen/Senior Staff
In response to the UC-AFT's bargaining proposal on behalf of university teaching faculty, the UC Office of the President has agreed to provide longer-term contracts and lift the salary minimum by 8% for lecturers who may qualify as low-income earners.

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The University Council-American Federation of Teachers, or UC-AFT, received a bargaining update and proposal from the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, on Oct. 19.

The UC-AFT represents nonsenate and nontenured faculty at the university and advocates for improvements in job stability, income and workload for the university’s teaching faculty.

According to the UC-AFT website, of the 14 core issues that make up the union’s platform, the university has improved conditions in job security and release time for UC-AFT stewards.

“The Office of the President (UCOP) still hasn’t moved significantly on the other 12 of the 14 issues at the core of our bargaining impasse,” the UC-AFT website reads. “In particular, they continue to refuse a fair, clear, enforceable workload definition, and their compensation proposal amounts to a pay cut given high inflation.”

Under the proposal issued by UCOP, a majority of the union’s members will still receive salaries under the low income level, according to the website.

While the university claims to be among the top three colleges in the Association of American Universities with regard to how well it compensates lecturers, the ranking does not factor in the cost of living in Berkeley, according to the website. At a minimum full-time salary of $56,945, lecturers in areas with a high cost of living can qualify as low-income earners.

UCOP has agreed to lift the salary minimum by 8% for those at the lower end of the scale. The UC-AFT website noted that these changes are not enough to “close the gaps” they have identified.

According to the website, the last UC-AFT cost of living increase was a 3% adjustment in 2019. In contrast, many other university employees received raises in July 2021.

“The compensation is much lower than I’m paid in industry, yet the workload is higher — especially given that there is often work to do during the summer,” said Pamela Fox, campus lecturer of computer science. “These days, I am constantly scrutinizing my finances to see if it’s reasonable to continue on this relatively low salary while paying for Bay Area mortgage and child care.”

Fox, who recently joined the UC-AFT, added that as an electrical engineering and computer science department lecturer, her salary is likely “on the higher end,” even if it may be less than the industry standard.

UCOP has also agreed to give longer-term contracts to lecturers under the new bargaining agreement, according to Michael Ball, campus computer science lecturer. Instead of reapplying after one year, lecturers can now receive two- to three-year contracts. After six years, definite contracts can be established.

Ball noted that there are no set minimum or maximum hours a lecturer can work in a semester, though departments are required to post a “formula” for clearer workload expectations on their websites.

UCOP previously agreed to UC-AFT’s request for an open bargaining session Oct. 22.

“UC highly values our lecturers’ hard work and dedication to the University and its students,” UCOP said in an email. “We remain hopeful about securing a long-overdue, multi-year contract for our lecturers across the system so they can continue educating and supporting UC’s students.”

Amudha Sairam and Erica Jean contributed to this report.

Anishi Patel is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @anishipatel.