MEDIA IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 1, 2015
Contacts: Bill Quirk, 805-689-0645,
UCLA- Mia McIver (UCLA Local President elect), 949-231-7934
Lecturers mark contract extension with meetings, action
CALIFORNIA – UC AFT-represented faculty in the University of California system held meetings and rallies on most of the undergraduate campuses today (terms have ended on semester campuses) after accepting a short-term extension of their collective bargaining agreement late last week. The contract was set to expire June 1.
Represented non-tenure track faculty, known as “Lecturers,” provide approximately one third of all undergraduate education for the University of California. However, most Lecturers have precarious appointments, and fewer than one in seven achieve a stable, on-going position within the University.
Bob Samuels, president of the University Council of the CFT, summed up the problem of contingent faculty, writing,“There are many reasons for this high level of turnover, but the fact remains that the University is not retaining a stable core of Lecturers.”
The high turnover in some academic departments across the campuses harms the quality of undergraduate education. Benjamin Harder, the union’s lead negotiator, said, “It looks like some departments just hire temps over and over, never evaluate their teaching, and replace them every two to three years. That shows the disdain some University decision makers hold for undergrads, let alone academics with terminal degrees.”
Lecturers at UC Santa Cruz held eight hours of informational pickets and a lunch-time “Picnic of the Precariat,” which included a teach-in and carnival. Other campuses, such as UCLA and UC Riverside, marked the date with union meetings to further organize membership.
The union seeks improved stability for appointments made during the first six years of employment, Social Security benefits for all lecturers, and increased visibility and participation in University decision-making.
Contract stability and social security are key areas of negotiations. Said Harder, “We’re fighting an employer culture that thinks it is acceptable to tell someone what he or she is teaching less than one week before the start of term. Even worse is the problem of benefits for part-time instructors. It’s a scandal that the fifty percent of Lecturers who teach less than half time have worse retirement benefits than part-time retail employees.”
The University Council of the American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) represents approximately 4,000 non-tenure-track faculty and librarians in the University of California. It is a member of CFT, which also represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts and 120,000 educational workers at every level of the education system, from early childhood to higher education. More info: www.ucaft.org and www.cft.org.