Bargaining Update #4

Bargaining Update #4

The fourth day of bargaining between UC-AFT and UC took place at UCLA on July 26th.  In a welcome break with tradition , the UC team arrived promptly at 10:00am, ready to begin negotiations.  This update will summarize the events as succinctly as possible; we will have more details, and more to say in response, in the coming days and weeks.  Be sure to check the UC-AFT Librarians’ blog for more.

In a nutshell:

  • The morning became electric with the submission of three proposals for MOU language improvements by UC-AFT’s negotiating team, featuring a courageous and principled presentation from the temporary librarians of UCLA Special Collections.
  • The lunch hour found the sun-baked facade of the Young Research Library obscured by 100 people chanting in support of UC Librarians.
  • The afternoon was gloomy, as the UC administration flatly refused nearly every proposal we’d submitted until today.

It was a day of exhilarating highs, followed by discouraging lows. Luckily, the UC administration has not written the end of this story, and the negotiations continue.

UC-AFT Proposals:

Temporary appointments

It’s our position that the use of the Temporary Librarian position has been abused during our current contract, echoing abuses during past contracts.  In 2013, contract language for Temporary Librarian was altered to be more specific about the conditions under which hiring temporary librarias was appropriate, in an effort to close loopholes that allowed UCLA to have over 20% of librarians in temporary appointments. While many of those temporary librarians were made permanent shortly afterwards, seemingly putting an end to this abuse, the practice has resurfaced again in UCLA Special Collections, where ten temporary archivists have been employed within the last two years.

We are looking for ways to further discourage the use of contingent workers, with the hope that more potential career positions will be created instead.  We need permanent positions to address critical staffing needs for ongoing, professional-level work. We’re also hoping to provide temporary librarians more transparency regarding the possibility of a permanent position, and more rights to a hearing if/when a temporary librarian is released.

With that general goal in mind, we’ve inserted new language into Article 18 to accomplish the following:

  • We’ve altered the “temporary and finite need” language to now read “temporary, exceptional and finite need,” and specified exactly which situations are appropriate for temporary appointments.
  • While appointments will still self-terminate, our proposed language states that UC must notify the temporary librarian that they will not be re-appointed 90 days in advance of the termination date.  
  • Currently, Librarians can be released from their appointment with only 5 days notice.  We’ve changed that to 20 working days, with a right to an informal hearing that will take place before their release and not afterwards.

Improvements to the Layoff procedures (Article 8)

  • We are adding language to prevent the University from targeting individuals through misuse of the layoff process
  • We are making it explicit that layoffs and involuntary reductions in time are to be done only for budgetary reasons, and that UC must give us information related to their budgetary decisions – we’re asking for more accountability from UC when making these difficult decisions that can have a huge, life-altering impact on our members
  • We feel that our demands are just, and hope UC will agree: we appreciate that UC has previously only resorted to layoffs during dire financial times, and that they have worked with librarians to come up with alternatives to layoffs

Dues Deductions and Orientations

  • The Dues Deduction article is being updated to reflect the Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, which outlawed agency fee collection from non-members of our bargaining unit.
  • Additionally, we will include procedures for New Employee Orientation mandated by the passage of AB119, now California State law. The union will be invited to talk with newly hired librarians as part of the onboarding process.

After lunch and a great noon-time rally outside of the UCLA Young Research Library, we returned to the bargaining table in the afternoon.  UC presented its counter-proposals to all of the articles we had previously presented.

UC’s responses to UC-AFT Proposals

The University rejected most of our proposals passed at the last three bargaining dates, leaning on their theme that they believe our current contract language is sufficient, clear, and fair.  UC’s chief negotiator, Tony DiGrazia, stated that our contract is “mature” and does not require a lot of “tweaking.”

Article 5 – Review Action Procedure

We requested that all librarians, at all campuses, have the right to add comments in response to materials added to their review file, at any stage; we requested that all parties involved in the review should have academic appointments; we requested that those involved in reviewing librarians base their review only on materials in the librarian’s file.  The University rejected every one of those proposals. They did, however, accept our proposal to change the word “packet” to “file.”  

Article 23 – Corrective Action and Dismissal

Our proposal for Corrective Action and Dismissal contained language that would make clear the difference between informal warnings, which are not corrective action, and official written warnings, which are part of the corrective action process.  With this language, we sought to ensure that librarians are treated fairly when problems arise, and that a progressive discipline model would be followed. The University rejected our proposal, citing that the current contract language is clear enough.  Not if you ask those who have been hurt by past management practices that have no consideration for fair and progressive discipline!  

Sabbaticals and Academic Freedom

While explaining how carefully and thoughtfully they considered our proposals, the University rejected our two new articles in their entirety.  

  • According to UC’s negotiators, sabbaticals are specifically granted to senate faculty to allow them to fulfill their duty to 1) conduct peer-reviewed research, 2) serve as an instructor of record, and 3) participate in public service to the university, in order  to enable them to advance through the merit and promotion process. Apparently, librarians do not have these three requirements and therefore do not need sabbatical privileges.  
  • Similarly, according to UC’s negotiators, academic freedom is granted only to students and those who serve as an instructor of record for a credit class, and the privilege of academic freedom arises out of the need for freedom of expression in the classroom.  In their words, “the University will maintain the position that librarians are only afforded academic freedom when they are the instructor of record.”
  • However, there was one aspect of our proposed academic freedom article they rejected with a caveat: Copyright ownership of our scholarly works.  Framed as a concession, they will allow us to review the first draft of a revised Copyright Ownership policy set to be released in a few months, if we agree to their rejection of the proposal that we are entitled to copyright ownership of our scholarly and creative works.

For an additional hour, both sides engaged in thoughtful and respectful discussion, and we closed our bargaining by thanking each other for a productive bargaining session.  After a steady series of polite refusals to our principled proposals, Tony DiGrazia emphasized UC’s willingness to listen to our concerns and that they respect our proposals and arguments.  

 

In conclusion, here is a list of the articles we proposed, and UC’s responses:

Article 1 – Recognition: Rejected

Article 5 – Review Action Procedure: Rejected, except for the word “file” in Section E.

Article 10 – UC-AFT Rights: Conditionally Accepted (with technical changes to master employee lists, with changes to specific information that UC-AFT receives)

Article 11 – Release Time: Rejected

Article 19 – Leaves of Absence: Discussion ongoing

Article 23 – Corrective Action and Dismissal: Rejected

New Article – Academic Freedom: Rejected

New Article – Sabbatical: Rejected

Buckle up; these negotiations are nowhere near complete.  Look for further messages detailing the truly amazing aspects of this day in Westwood, and more detailed responses.

Our next bargaining dates are August 8 at UC Berkeley, and then August 28 at UC San Diego.

Further dates are currently being negotiated for September and beyond.

In Solidarity,

Your UC-AFT Librarians’ Table Team:

David Eifler, Berkeley

I-Wei Wang, Berkeley

Axel Borg, Davis (Chief Negotiator)

Mitchell Brown, Irvine

Martin Brennan, Los Angeles

Miki Goral, Los Angeles

Carla Arbagey, Riverside

Laurel McPhee, San Diego

Dominique Turnbow, San Diego

Cristela Garcia-Spitz, San Diego

Kristen LaBonte, Santa Barbara

Ken Lyons, Santa Cruz

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