UC-AFT Bargaining Update #8

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

UC administration began the morning with a request to extend the contract, as expected. As we have previously informed the membership, we informed the UC that we do not intend to extend the contract.

UC also presented responses on the following:

Article 13 – Salary

UCOP came back to the bargaining table with a counter that paid little attention to our August 28 salary proposal (in which we asked for a $3.5k-8%-8% salary increase distributed over three years). UCOP proposed a four-year contract, with general range adjustments of 3%-2%-2%-2%, for a total increase of approximately 9%.  The new UCOP proposal sounds eerily familiar to the current contract, which locked in an 8% raise over five years, and left librarians far behind inflation curve and the salaries of our peers at other campuses.

Since 2013, the cost of living index in the Los Angeles region increased over 13%; in the Bay Area, where the majority of UC librarians live and work, it increased nearly 19%. Our pay already lags about 25% behind our colleagues in the California State University System, and once adjusted for the cost of living in California, UC salaries are the lowest among the Comparison 8 universities.

They also proposed a meager increase of an additional 1.9% for librarians at the top step of the scale, rather than adding any steps to the top of the scale to address compression.

UCOP started this salary negotiation with a stated goal of meeting the University’s need to recruit, retain, and motivate qualified professional librarians. Their proposal doesn’t concern itself whatsoever with meeting this bar, as it doesn’t even account for inflation, let alone close the gap between UC librarian pay and that of our peers. They didn’t address the need to extend the salary scale, or fix the problem of extremely low entry-level salaries (other than offering to lop off the bottom point on the scales). The University’s proposal doesn’t meet its own stated goals—and certainly not ours. We’ll be back to the drawing board, and bargaining table, with Article 13.

New Article – Academic Freedom

UC proposed a side letter to the contract, which states that: “The University and the Union recognize the importance of agreeing upon and defining the privileges and responsibilities of non-faculty personnel, including Professional Librarians… The University Provost and the Executive Vice President shall form a systemwide workgroup to discuss and define the privileges and responsibilities of non-faculty academic personnel in relation to APM-010 [Academic Freedom] and APM-015 [The Faculty Code of Conduct]….” The letter goes on to state that the commission “will seek input, information, and advice” from LAUC and UC-AFT, among other stakeholder groups.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a side letter, it’s an agreement between the parties that is outside the contract. Our union has agreed to side letters in the past, and watched as they are ignored or buried through bureaucratic excuses.  This letter was unanimously rejected by the Table Team (in the afternoon), as we concluded:

  • It does not solve this issue.
  • We are given no guarantee of a seat at the table in the process.
  • There is no guarantee of a timeline.
  • Even if there was a timeline, there are no AF protections guaranteed to librarians in the interim.
  • We are given no assurance this will lead to a policy that guarantees academic freedom for librarians. It leaves that decision up to the commission.
  • We are unshaken in our belief that we require these rights and responsibilities to do our work, and we need Academic Freedom in our contract.

That said, we remain open to creative solutions and seeking compromise, and we hope this commission does indeed come together to address the issue as it applies to academic titles. The Provost does not need us to sign a side letter to take action.

Article 2 – Non-Discrimination

UC accepted our proposal to include additional bases for non-discrimination: political affiliation, union activity, and HIV status.

Article 14 – University Benefits

UC rejected our one proposed change, mandatory eligibility for housing programs – leaving the eligibility at the campus level.

UC-AFT proposed changes to the following articles:

Article 7 – Assignments, Transfers, and Reassignments

Our proposal for Article 7 takes into account the fact that many campuses across the system have undertaken reorganisations over the past several years, resulting in the reassignment of librarians often far outside of their fields of expertise. Our proposed language requires the University to acknowledge a librarian’s expertise and career path, and that they will be flexible in considering alternatives to proposed reassignments.  Our aim is to balance the administrative need to organise the operation in a manner most responsive to user needs, while taking into account the benefit of continuity and maintenance of expertise to the institution and to the librarian.

Article 24 – Grievance Procedure

The current contract language is ambiguous in providing guidance on how to document the grievance procedure.  The proposed changes make it clear that the informal resolution is optional, and may be pursued by either the grievant or the union.  It is sensitive to the reluctance of many librarians to attempt to resolve grievances informally.

We also proposed to change the deadlines for filing and responding to grievances, for both UC-AFT and the University, to 45 days.  Grievance stewards and union leaders across the system have noted a pattern in in the grievance: the University constantly requests extensions to their deadlines.  So, not only does the 45-day timeline benefit our union members, it allows the University the extra time that they have consistently needed to respond to our grievances.

There are two remaining articles that we “sunshined” back in April that we have yet to present: Contract duration and Waiver, and they contain technical language that will depend on how our final salary agreement shakes out – whether it be a 3 or 4 year plan, as they now propose.

So, in essence, all of the UC-AFT proposed changes for the new contract have been delivered to UC-AFT.  We have come to agreement on only a few minor items; hopefully that starts to change now that this work is done.

Then, we staged a rousing lunchtime demonstration, during which our Table Team and dozens of supporters marched from Young Research Library to Powell Library. It was covered by the Daily Bruin.   We’ll share more pictures soon!

We returned to our caucus room so the Table Team could discuss UC’s proposals, before resuming bargaining at 2:30pm.

UC responded to a few more of our proposals, including those presented in the morning:

  • UC disagreed on 45 day extension for grievances timelines
  • UC denied proposed changes to language on telecommuting
  • UC rejected the removal of language that a doctor’s note may be requested to verify sick leave
  • UC did agree to language allowing use of sick leave if getting sick on a planned vacation

For the last 90 minutes, the UC-AFT team caucused and discussed strategy and next steps.

Bargaining continues on October 19th at the UC Berkeley campus.

In Solidarity,

Your UC-AFT Librarians’ Table Team:

David Eifler, Berkeley

I-Wei Wang, Berkeley

Axel Borg, Davis (Chief Negotiator)

Mitchell Brown, Irvine

Martin Brennan, Los Angeles

Miki Goral, Los Angeles

Carla Arbagey, Riverside

Laurel McPhee, San Diego

Dominique Turnbow, San Diego

Cristela Garcia-Spitz, San Diego

Kristen LaBonte, Santa Barbara

Ken Lyons, Santa Cruz

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