To Unit 17 librarians:
UC libraries are long-standing centers of excellence that deliver critical support to faculty, students, and the public. UC librarians stand at the core of the research and teaching mission of the University. Yet based on what can be gleaned from its initial proposals in the successor bargaining that has just begun, the University now appears determined to undermine the academic status, economic security, and union protections of its librarians.
One normally expects to see sharp contrasts between an employer’s initial bargaining proposals and those of the union. This is part of the way the bargaining process works. Still, those initial proposals should communicate the respective parties’ general goals and concerns. The administration’s initial proposals for the Unit 17 contract have caused surprise and alarm among librarians across the system. They seem designed to de-professionalize librarians by radically increasing management discretion and reducing or eliminating librarians’ contractual rights to full and fair union representation, shared governance in appointments and reviews, and equitable compensation and professional development support.
Why are librarians concerned?
Violation of right to representation. The administration’s proposal for Article 1 is an illegal subversion of the UC-AFT’s statutory right to represent UC’s professional librarians, and of librarians’ right to be represented. It is extremely troubling to see an initial University initial proposal for Article 1 that violates state law governing the collective bargaining process.
Virtual elimination of peer review. The administration’s proposals for Article 4 and the deletion of most of Article 28 would effectively eliminate the peer review process as such, substituting evaluation procedures that include Unit 17 librarians’ participation but which are almost entirely controlled by management. Note that currently the peer review committee is already advisory, and its decisions can be overturned. But under the proposed new system, review committees would no longer be required to have a majority of represented Unit 17 librarians, they apparently would have no say in ordinary merit decisions that do not involve promotion, career status, or acceleration, and they would receive no notice or opportunity to comment if their recommendations were not followed.
Elimination of the salary scale. The replacement of the salary scale by salary ranges would give nearly total discretion to administrators regarding individual advancement. What is currently a predictable though not certain progress through the steps would be subject to the decisions of management with little or no accountability. Some but not all associate and full librarians would receive a one-time 1.5% raise when they are initially put on the new system. The proposals do not include any other raises, nor do they indicate when librarians would be eligible for promotions.
Raises contingent and discretionary. Even these small raises would be contingent on state funding. Worse yet, any annual COLAs and merit raises would be contingent on state funding each year; 75% of funding for salary increases would be used for merits while leaving only 25% for COLAs; furthermore, the amount of any individual merit raise would be entirely at the discretion of management.
In all areas, management would exercise enormously greater control, and librarians’ rights and opportunities would be radically reduced. The opportunities for management abuse of discretion would increase dramatically.
In response to the University’s posting of their initial proposals on December 4, 2007, the UC-AFT Bargaining Committee has heard from unprecedented numbers of librarians throughout the UC system. These librarians are adamant that the union not even consider moving in the direction that the UC appears to be proposing. UC-AFT intends to represent the will of its members in this regard. It is the union’s hope that by the time face-to-face negotiations begins on December 19, 2007, UC will be ready to discuss a new MOU that has some hope of being ratified by the membership of the librarian unit.
The librarian unit faces serious challenges in regard to salary, workload, and professional support. The union has entered these successor negotiations in good faith and is prepared to work with the University to ensure that work conditions are such that UC can support and retain excellent librarians. Unfortunately, the University’s initial proposals have made us question the good faith of the University. Indeed, to achieve managerial “flexibility,” the Administration appears to be eager to dismantle the professional status and protections that in the past have made the University of California a destination workplace for the very best academic librarians. This is a dangerous path not only for librarians and the library, but for the entire University.
UC-AFT Unit 17 Chief Negotiator
Please review our summary of the administration’s proposals below. Full texts of both the administration’s and the union’s proposals are posted online at
The University’s proposals are as follows:
Article 1D. Eliminate current requirements that they negotiate with the union decisions to move an individual or librarian’s position in or out of the bargaining unit.
Article 4.A.1. Change the way members of review committees are appointed. Currently, on many campuses, CAPA or CAP members are chosen by the local LAUC Executive Board, usually subject to administrative approval. Under the new system proposed by management, an administrator would choose committee members from a list of nominations made by the union.
Article 4.A.1. Reduce the minimum number of Unit 17 members on review committees from the current “majority” to “at least half of the membership.”
Article 4.C.1.a. Replace salary steps with salary ranges and replace the current process for merit reviews that do not involve promotion, career status, or accelerated reviews with an “abbreviated evaluation.” The apparent intention here is to eliminate any peer review from decisions about merit review.
Article 4.C.1.c. Pool together “all salary increase dollars” received from the state “each year and distribute [those dollars] as follows to librarians in the unit: 25% will be used for COLA adjustments every year and 75’% will be used for merit increases. Merit increase amounts will be awarded at the sole discretion of the University.” That is, all COLAs and merit raises would be contingent on state funding; amounts of individual merit raises would be entirely at the discretion of administrators.
Article 4.C.18. Eliminate the requirement that the review committee of receive notice of and an opportunity to comment on a University official’s review decision that goes against the committee’s recommendation.
Article 12. Increase the minimum salary for an assistant librarian to $45,000, for an associate librarian to $50,000, and for a full librarian to $69,000 with a 1.5% increase for former associate librarians IV-VII and for full librarians II-VII. No other salary levels are specified and the existing rank/step table has been stricken. Raises would be contingent on “receipt of full funding in the approved state budget.”
Article 28: Eliminate LAUC’s historic role in peer review.