We held our 15th bargaining session on March 4th, at the Geisel Library on the UC San Diego campus.
We came into this session optimistic that UCOP would present 1) a formal, written salary proposal they’ve been teasing in non-committal “supposal” form since January*, and 2) reasonable responses to the five critical non-salary issues we identified in the last session. If they were unable to agree to our proposed solutions, we expected at least to see some movement towards compromise on these issues. In order to work with UC-Path timelines and implement salary changes prior to the end of the fiscal year, management had previously emphasized that all this should coalesce in a signed contract by April 1st.
Instead, management tried to play us for April Fools. Our optimism was misplaced. The day ended in a reversal from the positive direction negotiations had taken in recent sessions.
UCOP arrived unprepared and made us wait the entire morning while they worked on responses to our proposals. They spent the entire morning doing their homework! Mind you, some table team members had gotten up at 3AM to arrive on time for negotiations. We were already off to a bad start when, finally, at 1PM they began presenting their responses to our critical issues.
They admitted they failed to secure authority to offer the salary proposal previously “supposed” (but were still working on it). Then, the table team and the UC San Diego observers who were eager to herald a positive turning point in negotiations were instead infuriated to hear a series of insulting counter-offers that provided no solutions and, in some cases, made the situation worse.
Professional development: Zero increase to professional development funding over our prior contract. No per-capita funding model to address their inherently unequal and flawed funding scheme. Instead they offered a minimum of $500 per librarian out of existing funding, which they admitted was “no big triumph”. We agree there! $500 is less than the current per capita amount received at any campus. Essentially, UCOP’s plan is to transfer the costs for PD required for a successful review onto librarians, in order to pay for the “supposed” salary increases. The University should commit to proper investment in the Library by guaranteeing adequate (not exorbitant) professional development funding.
Transfers and Reassignments: Current contract language suggests a new job description be shared prior to reassignment, but allows management 10 days after any reassignments to finalize the text. We had asked for a 10-day required notice ahead of re-assignments. Their sole proposed change: any descriptions provided ahead of reassignment can now be provided in draft form. This change actually weakens existing protections.
Flexible work arrangements: We proposed the right to formally grieve “arbitrary or capricious” denials of flexible work requests. This was ignored. Their proposal merely points out that librarians can appeal such decisions to their supervisor’s immediate superior within the library. That is something we can and already do. The only conclusion to be drawn from this proposal — which management claimed they arrived at as a team — is that they think we’re so eager for a contract that we’ve stopped reading.
Academic Freedom: UCOP verbally agreed to a side letter that assures that any AF policy (resulting from the Provost’s working group) regarding librarians will also apply to UC-AFT represented librarians. In other words, “any policy applying to librarians will apply to librarians.” The working group has already assured us that their policy (still under development) will apply to all academic employees. We proposed a side letter that guaranteed AF protection under APM 10 and 15 until the formal policy was implemented — which could take years. UC offers no solution to the very real issue of protections for librarians on the front lines of academic freedom while we wait for a policy to be implemented.
Temporary Librarians: All they offered was a dismissive verbal rejection of our proposal, in which they told us that if we were unsatisfied with implementation of the contract language we could seek third party arbitration. That process is already underway, as they know. They have dug in their heels, refusing to acknowledge their repeated abuse of the current contract, and are content to let that abuse continue until ordered to stop by a third party.
Overall, not a single counter-proposal seriously addressed the issues the bargaining team raised. Some were even regressive.
Our entire bargaining team is angry. The normally laid-back SoCal vibe of San Diego members dissolved in the afternoon and they were beyond frustrated with UCOP. (San Diego table team members noted that they had never before seen their members so angry).
UCOP negotiators are wasting everyone’s time and squandering university resources. We are struggling to understand what motivates them. It is clear we must pivot our efforts to prepare for this fight to drag out beyond April Fool’s Day. This week, our table team will present UCOP with a list of potential bargaining dates stretching into November.
Despite management’s failure to offer anything substantial at the bargaining table, the spirit of the members and supporters in attendance was high. We had support from 25+ librarians, students, faculty and other union reps, and were especially appreciative of the support from the UCSD Solidarity Coalition. Several colleagues from UCLA also made the drive down to join us, including recently dismissed archivist Melissa Haley, who is currently living off of unemployment compensation. Her presence was invigorating to our collective resolve.
Bargaining resumes a 8 days from now, on Wednesday 3/13 at UC Berkeley – our 16th bargaining session. Management’s actions at UCSD make it clear that it’s time to turn up the heat even further. Our organizers will find increasingly loud ways to let our EVCs and ULs know UCOP’s representatives at the bargaining table are failing miserably to do the work necessary to reach a contract. We encourage everyone to join us on the steps of Doe Library at noon to let UCOP know that their stalling tactics have failed, their insulting offers only inspire us to work harder, and the librarians are willing and able to do the hard work UCOP negotiators seem incapable of. See you on the 13th in Berkeley.
On behalf of the UC-AFT Unit 17 Librarian Table Team
*Supposals are a non-binding negotiation tactic that can be a productive way to explore possible negotiated solutions. Unlike formal proposals, which cannot be backed down from once offered on the table, supposals can allow parties who are bargaining in good faith to work towards proposals that will work for both sides. But it takes two to tango, and right now management is just stomping on our toes.