Non-tenured professors, lecturers and some other faculty members at the nine University of California campuses are planning a walkout Wednesday and Thursday in a dispute over several labor issues that has lasted more than two years.
The University Council-American Federation of Teachers says it has filed seven unfair labor practice charges with the California Public Employees Relations Board over the last 20 months. They accuse UC President Michael Drake’s administration of failing to bargain in good faith over a handful of issues, including a paid family leave policy.
The UC-AFT represents lecturers and adjunct professors hired on a yearly or quarterly basis, as well as librarians.
According to the union, the UC’s family leave policy would provide eight weeks of paid leave for some employees to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. But the eligibility threshold excludes thousands of lecturers, the majority of whom teach part-time and are more likely to be women and caregivers than their tenure-track colleagues, the union says.
The union claims UC management initially said the new program was subject to collective bargaining, but later declared that they would not negotiate.
Other issues include:
— additional compensation for online instruction and essential teaching supplies;
— settlement terms after improperly withholding employer retirement contributions;
— the effects of layoffs lecturers at UC Davis; and
— the impacts of COVID conditions on K-12 teachers represented by UC-AFT.
The walkout could affect classes at UC Riverside, where officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The UC issued a statement saying, “The University of California is disappointed with UC-AFT’s decision to pursue a two-day strike — withholding instruction is grossly unfair to our students and a strike does not move us closer to a contract.
“The union’s unfair labor practice claims against UC are neither supported by the facts nor any finding by the California Public Employment Relations Board,” according to the university.
According to the UC, university negotiators presented union leaders with a “comprehensive proposal” on Oct. 11 that included substantial pay increases, an enhanced appointment system with more stability for lecturers, evaluations for pre-six lecturers at the end of each appointment term, greater transparency in job expectations and mechanisms for addressing workload concerns.
Ryan King, associate director of media relations for the UC President’s Office, told City News Service on Tuesday that officials have since enhanced that offer, offering, among other things, four weeks of leave at 100% of pay for all bargaining unit members, including for those members who may not be eligible for the family medical leave policy.
“We continue to meet with union leaders in good faith … with the aim of achieving a fair five-year agreement. This latest round of bargaining follows two and a half years of negotiations and a mediation period,” according to the UC.
The two sides were conducting all-day negotiations on Tuesday.
The union invited students to join the picket line, and asked its members who teach remotely to turn off access to their website Wednesday and Thursday.
The UC-AFT is affiliated with the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.