UC-AFT Bargaining Update #6

UC Administration met with the UC-AFT Librarians’ Table Team for our sixth bargaining session on Tuesday, August 28th at the UC San Diego campus.

In the morning there was a very strong turnout of dozens of observers, comprised mostly of Unit 17 librarians from UCSD, many staying throughout the entire session. It was noted throughout the day that it was perhaps unprecedented to have such active participation in the bargaining process among the UC San Diego librarians.  To the bargaining team, it was simply inspiring; yet more evidence how this round of negotiations is activating and uniting our membership!

UC-AFT Salary Proposal

To start the morning, Laurel McPhee, Adam Siegel, and Dominique Turnbow presented our salary proposal, which was developed in coordination with the full bargaining team and designed to reflect the wishes of our membership.  They rose to the occasion and gave a powerful presentation that was surprisingly emotional for all, reflecting upon the financial struggles our membership faces in order to make rent, repay student loans, and to have a manageable life. The data presented was shocking and sobering, demonstrating the stark divide between UC Librarian salaries and those of our peers in the CSU system and the UC’s preferred “Comparison 8” peer institutions. They received an enthusiastic standing ovation from our side of the bargaining table.  See more details of that proposal here.

Unit 17 member librarians presented arguments supporting a 22-25% salary increase over a proposed contract length of three years. Librarians request the following distribution: effective the first full pay period following 60 days from the date of ratification, the University shall increase each point on the annual salary schedule by the amount of $3,500; followed by two subsequent 8 percent (8%) annual general range adjustments on July 1 on each of the following two fiscal years. Librarians also demand:

  • That librarians promoting from the Assistant to Associate rank receive a one-time increase at least three (3) points above their previous salary amount.

  • A “me-too” clause that ensures general range adjustments for non-represented librarians are equally applied to the represented salary schedules.

  • An extension of the salary scale at the full Librarian rank, to facilitate meaningful peer review processes for academic appointees at mid- and peak levels of their careers.


After a lunch break get-together under the silent tree in front of the Geisel Library, complete with cookies (see above), David Eifler of Berkeley presented our Professional Development Proposal. The current problems addressed by the proposed new contract language are inadequate and unevenly distributed funding, and the inability to secure principal investigator (PI) status to do the research we are otherwise eminently qualified to undertake.

  1. Inadequate funding for professional development – Attendance at academic and professional meetings involves three major expenses; registration, travel, and lodging. A typical domestic 2-3 day conference, professional meeting, seminar or workshop might cost $250-$600 for registration, $500 for travel, and $500 for lodging, food and incidentals, or $1500 or more in total. International conferences obviously cost much more.  We are asking for adequate funding to allow librarians to attend two meetings a year.
  2. Fixing the current funding model.  Historically, each campus was allocated a fixed dollar amount to support librarian professional development. With subsequent contracts, funding was increased by an across-the-board percentage regardless of personnel changes at each campus. Per capita funding for professional development is now widely variable. In June 2018 we had one campus where the annual allocation worked out to $1272 per librarian, and another campus where the per capita allocation was only 40% of that or $497 per librarian. Retirements, separations and hiring on an individual campus can dramatically impact the amount available to individual librarians. Neither $1272 nor $497 is adequate to support librarian professional development, but the disparity among campuses is untenable. We propose to solve that by allocating PD funding on a per librarian basis — the same for each librarian, across the system. We also make explicit that reimbursement for professional membership fees is covered by this article, as is already local practice on a number of campuses.
  3. “Procedures established on each campus” are variable and in some cases leave the decision up to the UL, in other cases up to the local LAUC chapters. On some campuses, per-librarian allocation of funding is adjusted annually and may involve extensive budgetary calisthenics, including allowing librarians to spend the allocated amount over two years – as is currently done at Berkeley.
  4. Achieving Principal Investigator (PI) status for librarians is difficult at best, and should be comparable to that of other academic employees and not reliant upon the approval of ULs who are often too consumed by other responsibilities to set aside time to appreciate, secure IRB approval, and co-author our research.  

David noted that “providing adequate professional development funding and an equitable distribution method will allow librarians to perform their job duties and accrue benefits not only to themselves, but also to the University and the communities we serve.”

UC’s bargaining team accepted both proposals and promised to give them due consideration.  One telling comment was the coupling of salary and PD funding. They see it as one number; more PD will mean less gain in salary, and vice versa. We don’t agree on this, of course, but it will be a factor.

They continued by presenting changes to Appendix D derived from a discussion at our last bargaining, which deals with circumstances around Family Medical Leave situations; we will review these technical changes with our union attorney. They also responded verbally to a few articles we presented last time, on sick time, vacation and holidays.  There was a mixed bag of reactions to our proposals, with no clear indication on what changes they’d be willing to accept.

The day concluded with another 90 minutes of discussion on Academic Freedom, at the urging of the UC Administration.  They wanted to “drill down deeper” on the issue. In future messaging we’ll explore their arguments further, but frankly their tune hasn’t changed much from previous discussions.  

  • They remain unable, when pressed repeatedly, to point to University policy that states that Academic Freedom is tied to Instructor of Record status.

  • They seem determined to find a way to “unpack” the specific rights UC Librarians might need and find a way to frame those rights under a different term than Academic Freedom, and “take that term off the table.”  We re-iterated several times that this is not an option from our perspective, we are not willing to accept a separate but equal situation – but they continued to press this point throughout the discussion.

  • They tried to claim that the CUCFA/CA-AAUP Joint Letter in Support of Librarian Academic Freedom suggested that librarians should get faculty status, which would lead to academic freedom. We had to clarify for them that the statement clearly does not link the two: ”The Council of University of California Faculty Associations (CUCFA) and the California Conference of AAUP chapters (CA-AAUP) wholeheartedly agree with AAUP’s 1972 statement, recognize librarians as fellow faculty, and jointly support UC-AFT Unit 17’s request that all librarians be ‘entitled to academic freedom, as their primary responsibility to their institution and profession is to seek, state, and act according to the truth as they see it.’ CUCFA and CA-AAUP therefore urge UC President Napolitano to instruct UC negotiators to grant academic freedom to university librarians as they rightly deserve and have requested.”

The discussion was awash with circular arguments about the nature and definition of academic freedom and distortions of the role of LAUC in our academic endeavors.  Nearly all of our team spoke out to deflect these arguments, and were not swayed by their efforts to get us to throw our own professional standards aside. The debate concluded at around 4PM.

Though the discussion at the end was frustrating, it did not lessen the impact of a great day of bargaining at UC San Diego. The Salary and PD proposals were clear and expertly delivered, the fight continues on other issues, and the table team is inspired by and grateful to everyone at SD who gave us such a warm welcome!

Bargaining continues on Friday Sept. 14th at UC Davis. Stay tuned for more updates before then.

In Solidarity,

Your UC-AFT Librarians’ Table Team:


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