UC-AFT Bargaining Update #10

UC-AFT Unit 17 librarians and UC negotiators met on Friday, November 2nd at the UC San Diego campus for our tenth bargaining session.

UC administration began by addressing two items:

Appendix D – Family Care and Medical Leave

UC acknowledged progress made in a sidebar meeting held at UCOP offices on Oct. 24, in which the sides came closer to agreement on proposed changes to Appendix D. The substantive issue remaining is use of sick leave for parental/baby bonding leave.

Article 12 – Dues Deduction

UC proposed a completely re-written article addressing the handling of the union dues deduction process. While UC-AFT did not notice anything unreasonable in our first read-through, we did have some questions about parts of the process, and will review and respond at a future date.

Then, we moved on to the promised UC Salary Counter-Proposal. UC delivered what they branded a “comprehensive” proposal. Lead negotiator Tony DiGrazia clarified that this is not their final offer in any sense, but that the full package represented their stance on salary and all other proposed changes; it represents “where the university stands currently on all these issues.”

In addition to their continued disinterest in the vast majority of our proposals, they offered a 4-year contract with a 3% raise 90 days after ratification, and additional 3% raises on July 1st of 2019, 2020, and 2021. They refused inclusion of a “me-too” clause and an extension of the salary scale at Librarian rank.

They also stated that the “comprehensive” proposal came with what they called a “fuse” – a one week deadline to accept their proposal. They explained that this deadline was malleable, is not meant to intimidate or rush the process, and all aspects remain open to negotiation.

Our team decided to caucus and discuss their proposal.  We were joined by many of the UCSD librarians in our caucus room, where all expressed dismay at UC’s unwillingness to give us a meaningful counter-proposal that acknowledged the wage gap between UC librarians and our peers at other campuses and systems.  We noted that the national inflation rate is 2.7%, but is much higher in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and California regions. Therefore, UC’s proposal does not even keep up with inflation. We also observed that their 4-year salary proposal did not include a raise in the last year of their proposed contract period (July 1, 2022).

Plus, on the expectation of retroactive pay, DeGrazia claimed he didn’t know of any situations where retroactive pay had been approved during negotiations. UC-AFT is ready to provide full documentation for past agreements that included retroactive pay and will be continuing to consider this as an important part of salary negotiations.

After a lunchtime gathering of supporters under the Silent Tree in front of the Geisel Library,

The UC-AFT table team returned to the bargaining room and informed the UC team that we didn’t need 7 days to decide; we rejected their “comprehensive” proposal.

We then turned to the subject of Academic Freedom, and UC’s proposal of a side letter (an agreement outside of the MOU, to be co-signed with the UC-AFT), which was presented as an alternative to language in the MOU on Sept. 26th. The UC proposed a systemwide workgroup “to discuss and define the privileges and responsibilities of non-faculty academic personnel in relation to APM-010 and APM-015.” Read their letter here: Side Letter_2018.09.26.

In response, UC-AFT reiterated its demand that academic freedom rights for academic librarians be included in the Unit 17 MOU.  In addition, we proposed a modified side letter that provides more details on how this systemwide workgroup should be assembled and charged:

  • Academic Freedom rights for all academic appointees, including professional librarians, are affirmed in the charge of the workgroup.
  • The workgroup will heed HEERA’s mandate to “respect and endeavor to preserve academic freedom in the University of California.”
  • Both LAUC and UC-AFT will have representation of their own choosing on the workgroup.
  • The group will also contain representatives from the bargaining units for other academic titles, including but not limited to UC-AFT Unit 18 Lecturers, UAW 2865 Academic Student Employees, and UAW 5810 Postdoctoral Scholars.
  • Academic Freedom expertise should be sought from AAUP and ACRL.
  • The workgroup must agree unanimously on any recommendations and/or policy.
  • Any resulting, mutually beneficial changes to the Academic Personnel Manual resulting from the workgroup should eventually be folded into the Unit 17 MOU in future negotiations.
  • The workgroup is given a deadline of January 31st, 2020, giving a 13-month timeline for the workgroup to reach a conclusion.

You can read the full proposed letter here: UC-AFT Side Letter Response #1

We surmise that some of these conditions might seem unreasonable for a statewide UC committee of this type. For example, if you find such a tight timeline unreasonable, consider what the lack of a timeline can produce:  A similar workgroup was charged with addressing needed changes to the Copyright Ownership Policy in 2013., and five years later, that policy is currently under final administrative review and will be presented for public comment in the near future.

There will be much more detail about what was discussed on the academic freedom debate in a future message/blog post.  For now, we wanted to report on what was proposed at the bargaining table. UC said they would consider our renewed call for the new article on academic freedom, and the proposed side letter.

We ended our presentation with an appeal from one of our Berkeley representatives, David Eifler.  The full text of his statement is below, well worth reading. He is responding to the UC’s refusal to consider changes to an obviously faulty and woefully underfunded professional development scheme in the MOU.  More importantly, he provides a nice counterpoint to the UC’s “comprehensive” proposal, which they described as “where they stand on the issues.” We are certain David’s sentiments are mirrored by his colleagues across the 10 campuses.  We hope the UC side listened.

It pains me to say what I’m about to say.  I first set foot on UC Berkeley’s campus as an undergrad in 1978, completed a masters degree there in 1985, and had an ongoing relationship with UC through friends and my wife until I returned to Berkeley as a librarian in 2007. My son’s first Division 1 football scholarship offer was from Cal and my wife is a successful professor at Berkeley, trained there from undergrad through two post-docs.

So it genuinely pains me to say that today UC has a growing prestige problem based on its treatment of employees and decreasing service to students.  You may not see it yet from where you sit, but those of us working directly with students and faculty see it every day. While student populations on all campuses have grown dramatically (a 20% increase at Berkeley in the past five years), faculty and academic staff positions have remained flat.  Tuition is vastly more than it was when I attended, and students are receiving less attention from academic employees.

One sign of this decreasing prestige is UC’s rapidly growing problem recruiting and retaining librarians.  We are losing early career colleagues in droves and our recruitment pools are drying up. For example, at Berkeley In the past year we’ve lost four new career librarians to institutions such as the Univ. of Minnesota, the Univ. of Indiana, and CSU East Bay where they are better supported by their new institutions. Those of us who remain behind — often out of a sense of loyalty to UC and its public mission —  cover the additional work of unfilled positions, staff search committees to fill those positions, and continually train the new librarians that we are able to recruit. We train them, they quickly leave for greener pastures, we recruit replacements, and train them OR take over their work. At the same time, we’re being asked, as part of our review process, to stay current with the rapidly changing field of librarianship.  And to do it with inadequate professional development funding.

Frankly, I’m tired.  Seven years ago I assumed the workload of two and a half librarians and I’ve regularly worked 50-70 hours a week to meet the ongoing needs of students and faculty in order to help UC fulfill it mission to educate students and perform socially valuable research.  But more than the workload, I’m growing absolutely fatigued by having early career librarians show up at my desk literally in tears over how poorly they’re being treated by this University. You’ve seen a very small sample of that level of anguish – the spontaneous, heartfelt, anguish – at this table…. Let me assure you, it is a very small sample.

Word of librarian working conditions at UC is getting out.  A recent national search for an entry-level librarian yielded only seven applicants.  Only seven applicants for an entry-level librarian position at Berkeley. During job interviews, candidates are now openly questioning management support for librarians and referencing not only salary and professional development, but UC’s position on academic freedom.  And, as we head off to winter professional conferences – many of us on our own dime – we know that academic freedom and recruitment at UC will be the first questions asked by our national and international colleagues. A university that boasts of its world-class libraries can’t uphold that claim without investing in its librarians.

UC has a growing prestige problem and librarians have been working hard to propose solutions. One small solution would be for UC to provide adequate professional development funding, to guarantee that funding on a per capita basis, and to allow librarians to apply for Principal Investigator status.

But apparently, I was insufficiently clear when I initially presented this proposal on August 28th.  Because if I had been clear, you would have understood how insulting it is to treat professional development funding as part of compensation, and as if it is part of a fixed “pie” that we have to divide up. It is an investment, and– like computers, desks, books and databases, — a cost of doing business, a cost of maintaining world-class libraries.  Had I been clear two months ago, you would understand that having outdated and wildly varying amounts of professional development funding– ranging from $497 to $1,272 – is a broken funding model that needs to be fixed.

We watch UCOP and campus administrators invest in new buildings, new computing centers, new furniture, new maker-spaces, new databases, new football stadiums, new “initiatives”, and new administrative positions.  But when it comes to investing in the training and professional development we need to uphold world-class libraries — you claim it comes out of the same pot as our salaries. Had I been clear in our initial proposal, you would have at least dignified that proposal by granting Principal Investigator status or changing the funding model.  But you did NOTHING and chose to ignore our proposal.

I mentioned that I’m tired by the increased workload and the emotional distress of my colleagues.  I’m also tired because, up until now, the librarian side of this table has done most of the work. Everything from the menial setting up of tables and chairs before you enter the room, to the truly arduous work of proposing solutions to the recruitment, retention and prestige problems UC faces.  In addition to our “regular jobs” supporting the teaching, learning and research mission of the University, we’ve spent the past seven months developing concrete and viable solutions to maintain UC’s reputation. We’ve creatively addressed the salary difficulty early career librarians face with a one-time across the board increase.  We’ve proposed standardizing professional development funding across campuses. We’ve advocated use of sick leave for parental leave in an era when we are trying to recruit and retain professionals in the family-formation phase of life. We’ve patiently spent hours explaining the concept of “academic freedom” to you, apparently with no success. We’ve even gone to the trouble of rewriting articles to conform to existing law and match the current language of other bargaining units.

We have been outnumbered by management at each of the 10 bargaining sessions, yet librarians have done the lion’s share of the work in these negotiations. While we are weary of your imperviousness to the shared interests and values served by our proposals, our exhaustion will not lead us to back down. So, we are not offering any changes to our proposal on Professional Development Funding.  Instead, we urge you to spend time this next week developing viable solutions to the problems we’ve clearly laid out.

Bargaining continues on Friday, November 9th at the UCOP offices in Oakland.

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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