Bargaining Update #3 — January 14, 2008

BARGAINING UPDATE for 1-14-08:  There is not much new to report from bargaining. The management had a pretty small team there at UC Irvine last Monday at bargaining. Their team was mostly very late because of a missed flight, so we got started after lunch and went to 5pm. The discussions were very cordial. We countered their proposal for ground rules with the ground rules which had been accepted and used for the most recent Unit 18 bargaining. They will respond next time, and, I am hoping, simply accept our counter proposal.  Both teams continued to explain their opening proposals.

Both teams explained their proposals up through Article 20 — most of the presentations were from our side (since we had openers on more articles), and most of our proposals were seeking improvements in compensation and various benefits, leaves, etc. We also are demanding a more enforceable contract with respect to a number of the articles under discussion.

Our team asked some hard questions about how the Administration’s proposal on Salary (which is basically to do away with the step system and replace it with a range system like the lecturers have and to establish “pools” out of which range adjustments and merits would be paid) would work — they were not really able to adequately answer a number of good questions put to them by our team — in particular, how the pool system works in conjunction with the State Compact for higher Education and the State’s actual appropriations for UC each year. We will return to this discussion.

Needless to say, unions generally have little interest in replacing well-structured step systems with range systems which would replace initial salary decisions and promotion decisions based on merit with what can become very arbitrary decisions based on who management likes and doesn’t like. The UC-AFT shares the general union perspective on this issue and, at the very least, it would take a massive salary increase proposal from their side to make our side even vaguely interested in abandoning the current step system. I doubt that the current California budget situation would allow for that kind of a tempting salary proposal from their side.

The UC-AFT Unit 17 Negotiating Team conceded that there might be some limited cases where a more abbreviated review system might be ok, for example when there is a need for the University to offer a counter to an employee who has been offered more money by another library. But we also argued that this would happen a lot less if librarians were paid more competitively to begin with. We also made clear that our proposals to develop a pay scale closer to what is offered at CSU was based as much on the institutional need to pay competitive salaries (to help address recruitment, retention, and workload problems) as any abstract ideas of justice, fairness, or simply meeting the personal desires of current UC librarians.

At our next bargaining session, next week in Oakland, we should be able to complete the explanations of initial proposals from both sides.

Mike Rotkin

Chief Negotiator Unit 17, UC-AFT

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