Local Labor-Management Meetings Begin — UCSC

The local labor-management meetings process kicked off on Monday at UCSC. Ken Lyons, Annette Marines, and Greg Careaga spoke out about the concerns of librarians on the campus. UC-AFT was also represented by Mike Rotkin, Unit 17 Chief Negotiator, Karen Sawislak, Executive Director, and Robert Weil, UC-AFT’s UCSC Field Representative.

The UCOP Chief Negotiator, Deanna Dudley, explained that she is new to handling the librarian unit (although she has worked extensively with the UC-AFT lecturers and UAW graduate students). UCOP therefore has requested this series of local meetings in order to gain a better understanding of the professional issues of UC librarians and a more complete understanding of the work they do.

Library management (AUL Kate McGirr) spoke first about the opportunities and challenges for the UCSC library and librarians. She noted the constant pressure the Library is under to fundraise and the challenge of moving forward with providing library services to a growth campus. She is hopeful that some librarian positions will be filled and possibly added in the next year. She also noted some of the ways that that technology is changing the structure and skills that are needed to deliver library services.

The UC-AFT librarians then took the floor. First, they detailed the issue of staffing and workload at UCSC, noting that the number of librarian positions had declined by 20% in the last 6 years as the number of students enrolled at the campus grew steadily. Moreover, the number of support staff positions in the library has declined. Further, due to unfilled positions, some librarians have assumed long-term “acting” or “interim” assignments that now have lasted for years (in addition to their regular duties).

The discussion next turned to the implications of new technology — how librarians now are expected to be proficient in print collections and an ever-growing, ever-changing number of electronic mediums. The UCSC librarians explained how they had assumed many new tasks in order to manage, operate, and instruct users of electronic services. For example, to operationalize the request of a faculty member that music be available via the web in a digital archive, a librarian had to learn new systems, work with IT specialists, train support staff, and figure out how to mount and run an archive in a user-friendly manner that would serve the professor’s instructional needs. The librarians also detailed how their workload as instructors has increased enormously. New databases require new handouts for their operation, that faculty expect increasingly individualized instruction, and that students need ever more support in understanding what the sources are — and how to use and assess the information they deliver.

The next topic was salary, recruitment, and retention. It was noted that librarians at the CSUs, local community colleges, and local large public libraries all outearn UC librarians, especially at the assistant and associate levels. It is hard to recruit anyone to Santa Cruz from any other part of the country, due to the sky-high cost of living. UC salaries lag the inflation. Librarians do not have equal access to University programs that subsidize the cost of housing. Librarians leave because of salary issues — and a revolving door of colleagues creates more work for those who stay on, both in terms of extra work to shoulder and the work of sitting on job searches.

Finally, the conversation turned to the academic work of librarians. Given the pressures of Criterion 1 workload, it is extremely difficult to find time for other activities. Yet the librarians get feedback from management that achievements in Criteria 2-4 are valued in merit and promotion. In particular, the UCSC librarians are expected to serve and participate in national organizations — yet they receive only $900/year for travel support. Many must pay out of pocket to get to the conferences and meetings they should attend in their area of expertise.

The UCSC librarians made it clear throughout that they are deeply committed to academic librarianship — that they are proud of their work and their service to the University. But they are top-tier librarians who receive second-tier compensation. And the University systematically undervalues their contribution to the mission of research and education.

The tone of the exchange was very frank and very respectful. At times, people asked tough questions. Differences of opinion and/or areas of uncertainty and complexity were acknowledged.

Thanks to the UCSC representatives — Ken, Annette, and Greg — for their efforts.

The next local L-M meetings will be on Wed. Oct. 24 at UC-Riverside and on Thursday, Oct. 25 at UC-Berkeley.

posted by Karen Sawislak : 5:22 PM


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