UCSD Labor-Management Meeting — November 2

The UC San Diego local labor-management meeting took place on Friday, November 2. Elliot Kanter and Jennifer Reiswig presented the concerns of the UCSD librarians. Mike Rotkin (Unit 17 Chief Negotiator), Karen Sawislak (UC-AFT Executive Director) and Maria Tillmanns (UC-AFT UCSD Field Representative) also attended for the union.

Management representatives were Deanna Dudley and Myron Okada from UCOP Labor Relations, Kerry Donnell and Lori Trofemuk from UCSD Labor Relations, Maureen Harden, Director of Library Administrative Services, and Maria Din, Library HR Manager.

After introductions, both management and the union expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to come together to discuss Unit 17 issues at UCSD.

Maureen Harden began by observing that UCSD in the midst of enormous growth. By 2011, the student load on the campus will be equal to that of UCB and UCLA. The librarian ranks have gone from 45 FTE to 60 FTE in less than 10 years. In the face of this kind of rapid growth, the campus struggles to recruit new talent and to retain and provide adequate professional development opportunities to current staff.

UCSD works hard to maintain a collaborative relationship with its librarians. The local CAPA is very busy and works extremely hard to provide quick turnaround on reviews, so the campus can make competitive offers. The E-Board of CAPA meets quarterly with the UL and the AULs and UL regularly attend LAUC meetings.

The Library works constantly to live up to its Statement of Values, which reads as follows: “the UCSD Libraries value responsiveness to users, innovation and creativity, and strong teamwork and communication. The Libraries value a workplace environment that encourages continuous improvement in the quality of our services and that fosters the career development and professional growth of our staff.”

Even though Library management works hard to be responsive to the needs of staff, people do leave for new jobs because they can receive much higher salaries at other local institutions. Because of the high cost of living, UCSD struggles to attract new librarians to the area.

The UCSD librarians began by stressing the positive aspects of working at UCSD. UCSD librarians do not have an adversarial relationship with management. LAUC works effectively to resolve many important issues. People at UCSD do not feel micromanaged. Still, significant areas of concern remain.

The number 1 issue is salary. UC librarians earn less than public librarians at institutions at all levels in California. UCSD librarians have lost colleagues to the CSUs and local community colleges, where the new positions paid upwards of $10,000/year above the UC salary.

The prestige of being at UC doesn’t pay the rent. This salary lag makes it hard to recruit and retain librarians from elsewhere in the country. Because of salary problems, UCSD has many failed recruitments. Vacant positions create more work for the librarians who remain, who are always taking on extra work on a “temporary” basis.

Housing assistance programs, childcare assistance programs, or support for tuition all could help alleviate salary pressures. But at UCSD, only a very limited childcare subsidy is available to librarians.

The second issue of great concern is workload. It takes time and enormous effort to be a successful librarian in a time of great innovation in the delivery of services. People need to keep up their existing skills and continually (and rapidly) master new technologies.  The constant growth at the campus means that there are more people to serve and more programs to develop. Instruction is a bigger and bigger job.

New positions have been added in the library, but usually these are matched to new needs — i.e., a librarian to staff a new school of pharmacy or a new post for undergraduate services due to a consolidation of divisions. Despite the growing number of FTE, many positions remain vacant (which in turn creates more work for those in a short-staffed library).

The third consensus issue among the UCSD librarians is support for professional development. While UCSD librarians are funded far better than most of their UC colleagues (they receive $2200/yr), the level of support still barely covers two meetings per year.

UCSD increased professional development funding to its librarians as a result of a LAUC study that showed that previous levels were inadequate. As of this year, if an individual librarian does not spend his or her entire allotment of $2200 (about 70% do spend the entire fund), the remainder will go into a pool and other librarians can apply for additional funding to defer costs they may have incurred beyond their own $2200.

Apart from financial support, librarians at UCSD simply do not have enough time to take on research, writing, activities for professional organizations, and other academic work. More and more, their Criterion 1 duties fill up their day, and other activities are pushed into evenings and weekends.

Some access to sabbatical would help to carve out time for creative academic work. Some telecommuting is allowed, but this must be worked out with your supervisor.

Finally, the UCSD librarians touched briefly on a few other areas of concern. First, they expressed a wish for greater flexibility in determining alternative work arrangements during holiday closures. Second, they made a strong statement that librarian jobs should remain in the library series. Moves into the MSP series have not happened as yet at UCSD, but some may be imminent — and this is an area of concern, because this could erode morale and the sense of fairness and community that librarians now share as professional colleagues who work under the same system of rules and expectations. Third, some librarians would like to see greater rights to challenge the determinations of management when there are disagreements over work schedules, alternative work arrangements, attendance at conferences or workshops,  and other issues that concern how librarians choose (or cannot choose) to spend their time.

UCSD does not hire librarians at levels inappropriate to their level of achievement. Management is concerned to maintain a sense of equity and fairness within the librarian ranks. Hiring begins at the Assistant Librarian I level, if a new MLIS has no previous library work experience. Most new hires come in with some credit for previous library experience and start at Asst. II. No new MLIS is appointed at a step above Asst. II. It is especially difficult to bring mid-career librarians to San Diego, because of the cost of living.

This was an extremely informative and substantive discussion. Special thanks to Elliot and Jenny for their clear and effective presentations on behalf of the unit at UCSD.

The next local labor-management meetings are:  UCLA, November 7 UCSB, November 13

Karen Sawislak

UC-AFT Executive Director


posted by Karen Sawislak : 11:11 AM


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