Return to the Table for Economic Issues — November 6, 2008

Bargaining Update for Session on November 6, 2008
By Mike Rotkin, Chief Negotiator

Bargaining between the UC-AFT representing UC Librarians (Unit 17) and the University Administration resumed on November 6, 2008 at the Office of the President in Oakland. Both sides had full teams present. The atmosphere was cordial, but discussions are moving forward slowly.

Most of the time at the bargaining table was spent with the UC-AFT Negotiating Team outlining the arguments we intend to bring to the table. We began the process of passing hard copies of charts and graphs that demonstrate the points we are trying to make. Most of these points raised were summarized in the Talking Points for Librarian Bargaining that we issued earlier:

• UC Librarians seriously lag behind the labor market salaries for librarians as reflected by salaries at CSU, many if not most community colleges, and public libraries.
• UC Librarian wages lag far behind the cost of living over the past decade or two.
• Low wages result in retention and recruitment problems and that are serious at many libraries. Low salaries for Librarians represent an approach that is “penny wise and pound foolish” since training and having many recruitments and failed recruitments are expensive.
• Consequently, many UC libraries have far too many vacancies and this results in workload problems that exacerbate the retention problems as well as reducing the quality of service provided by UC libraries to faculty, students, staff, and the general public.
• In general UC libraries are under-funded and falling in status among research libraries.
• Despite the current financial meltdown, UC has the money to fund a decent salary increase, but unwisely chooses to fund other priorities (primarily new buildings).
• Professional Development is under-funded at UC.
• For the first time in several decades, bad morale is a serious problem at UC libraries and we are seeing Librarians get mobilized and begin to speak out publicly about their issues.

The single largest point we made was that we are not demanding pay increases simply because Librarians deserve them, but because to not increase pay will result in serious harm to the institution of UC libraries. In difficult times, UC still continues to fund pay increases for certain groups. Despite the recent financial meltdown, UC made significant pay increases for hospital workers, attorneys, UC police, and top executives. Institutional needs that we will demonstrate at the table require similar special action for Librarians.

Although no new proposals were put forth by either side, the University Administration made it clear informally that from their perspective there is not a lot of money for a Librarian contract at this point. At the table, they said:

• The Administration recognizes the value of Librarians and the need for pay increases. The UC budget does not allow them to do much to meet this need at the current time, but they will be offering some kind of financial package despite the current financial problems of the University.
• The University has major competing priorities.
• They look forward to the information we promised to share with them (see above), they will take the information seriously, and they will share the information and arguments that we make with “their betters,” i.e. the unnamed group that sets their parameters for bargaining.

Future bargaining dates have now been set for November 19 and December 4.

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