New Year Bargaining Roundup

As we return to bargaining this Tuesday January 15th at UC Davis, let’s take a look back at Bargaining in 2018. The new year is a good time to reflect upon all that has transpired; there was a great deal of activity, organizing, and hard work from the entire 80+ librarian team involved in the campaign. We should be proud, though it is merely a prologue for the hard work that remains.

We launched this blog in January, and lit up Twitter and Instagram throughout the year with alerts to our members and supporters, keeping everyone up to date and connected with our fight for a fair contract. Locals also ramped up their social media game using their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Additional members created visual material to illustrate our bargaining campaign and to show support, such as T-shirts and Buttons that featured slogans like “Librarians Will Not be Silent” and “World Class Libraries need World Class Librarians.”

The bargaining campaign formally started off with an explosion of calls in support of UC librarians during the sun-shining of articles in February. It set the stage for a very different bargaining campaign, one of solidarity and energy to a level not seen in previous campaigns from librarians in Unit 17.

As the Bargaining Timeline shows, there were 11 bargaining sessions in 2018, starting at UC Berkeley in April and moving between north and south campuses throughout the year.  Each campus staged some kind of event to show support for the bargaining team. From tabling, to boisterous rallies, to marches to the Chancellor’s office to deliver petitions, our activated membership and our campus allies changed the tenor and energy of our campaign in immeasurable ways.

Some notable bargaining events:

Salary is of paramount importance to our members, and the UCOP response has been to come back first with a pathetic, anemic, regressive counter-offer of 2% per year.  When we rejected it, they came back with 3% a year, still less than the rate of inflation and not even attempting to close the salary gap that we all recognize is a huge problem.  They claim that they have demonstrated willingness to move towards compromise with this one-two punch of insulting offers, and we are not amused by their tactics. We have a problem to solve and they are not offering serious solutions.

Our fight for Academic Freedom drew much attention to our campaign. Key early support from UC Faculty led to media attention from campus papers to national outlets such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, and thousands of academics and supporters from around the globe signed a petition in support.  That attention has certainly triggered a change in attitude from the administration, as a “systemwide workgroup” is in the works to address academic freedom’s application to all non-senate academics. While we are encouraged by those developments, we remain steadfast in our belief that our contract should explicitly state that academic librarians are empowered with academic freedom protections.

The struggle with the misuse of Temporary Appointments for permanent work also drew nationwide attention, with nearly a thousand signatures on a petition in support of that issue. The UCLA Librarians most affected by this abuse have had their grievance refused by the university – so UC-AFT is taking that fight to arbitration, and it remains an issue we are fighting for in the contract.

While we have reached tentative agreement on a few articles in the contract, it seems we have a long road to the finish. There are many other issues that we continue to fight for, including improved professional development funding, sabbatical rights, access to housing assistance programs, and improved peer review processes. After 11 bargaining sessions, we find ourselves far from agreement.  

What’s the latest, and what’s coming up?

In December our bargaining team held several strategy sessions on campuses, and the Table Team assembled at UC Berkeley for an overall strategy meeting.  We retain a strong collective resolve, and turn to the new year with determination to secure a new contract as soon as possible. It may take a few more months, or stretch out into the summer and fall, but we will do what it takes. We return to the bargaining table on January 15th at UC Davis.  

UCOP has offered verbal refusals to nearly all of our reasonable and justifiable proposals.  They were designed from member input to improve the working conditions, recognition, and compensation of librarians in the system, and enhance our ability to recruit and retain the best in our field. We have asked for written responses explaining why these proposals are not being considered seriously.  

UCOP has stated that they too are interested in improving the salary situation and closing the gap with comparison institutions.  Yet, their salary proposals do not even keep pace with inflation. We have asked for written justifications for their salary proposals, as we have provided for ours; lacking a logical explanation of how their plans improve the situation, we are struggling to understand their motivations.

There will be a rally on 1/15 at Noon at UC Davis in support of bargaining. Join us, along with members of other UCD unions and other workers and students, on the steps of Shields Library. Let’s let the UC Administration know that we demand Fair-Contracts-For-All UC employees! If you have a union t-shirt, button, or sticker, wear it! Don’t have one? No problem – we have plenty to share. All are welcome!

Also be sure to mark your calendars for the additional bargaining dates scheduled through March:

  • February 1 – 13th Bargaining Session, UCLA
  • February 22 – 14th Bargaining Session, UC Santa Cruz
  • March 4 – 15th Bargaining Session, UC San Diego
  • March 13 – 16th Bargaining Session, UC Berkeley
  • March 20 – 17th Bargaining Session, UCLA

In Solidarity,

Martin Brennan

on behalf of the Unit 17 Bargaining Committee

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