Bargaining Update #3 – January 19, 2024

Table team librarians and allies stand in front of a glass wall outside the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA.

Welcome to the new year, and together we are all working diligently toward a new contract! On Friday, January 19, the UC-AFT Unit 17 table team met for our third bargaining session at UCLA. Here’s an update on our progress. 

UC-AFT Proposals

Article 32 – Flexible Work Arrangements

Your bargaining team passed our initial proposal on flexible work arrangements. Recall that “passing a proposal” means sharing our suggested changes to contract language across the bargaining table. Alix Norton from UCSC presented our proposal during bargaining, with drafting assistance provided by Jess Waggoner (UCSC) and Tamara Pilko (UCSC). 

The ability for librarians to access a variety of flexible work modalities became absolutely central during the covid pandemic. However, not all UC campuses implemented flexible work arrangements in a way that ensured librarians could excel at all the duties required of them. Our proposal aims to both shore up and also harmonize flexible work opportunities for librarians across the UC. We advocated for increased flexibility in both space (for example, being able to work outside of the physical library space) and time (for example, accommodating alternative work schedules outside of normal library operating hours). UC-AFT proposed the ability for librarians who work remotely (full-time or hybrid) to request the equipment necessary to excel in their work, which could include computing peripherals, ergonomic furniture, and other materials. Our team proposed that librarian flexible work arrangement requests should be considered and responded to on an individual basis to take into consideration the varying needs across librarian workers.


Article 3 – Professional Activities and Development

Your team passed significant updates to our professional development article. Joy Holland (UCLA) and Rachel Green (UCLA) presented our proposal during bargaining. We believe that our proposed increases to professional development funding and the ability for librarians to be automatically eligible to receive Principal Investigator status will improve the recruitment and retention of librarians at the UC. 

First, our proposal demands a robust increase to the minimum annual guaranteed professional development funding available to every librarian. We know this dedicated funding is absolutely crucial to support research, creative activities, membership fees, attendance at professional meetings, conferences, and more. UC librarians—as academic workers—are expected to engage in these undertakings for the benefit of our institutions, field, our own professional growth, and to proceed through the ranks. We need the financial resources to do so. 

Second, the proposal advocates for a healthy increase to the special University-wide research fund—allocated through LAUC—that awards individual and joint research, presentation, and mini grants. The current allocation does not meet the growing demand from librarians seeking funding through this mechanism, meaning that LAUC has been compelled to deny worthy applications or only partially fund research projects. We hold that raising the amount of the special fund will increase the number and quality of research that librarians can contribute to the library and the university. 

Third, our proposal states that librarians should be automatically eligible to submit grant or research proposals designating themselves as Principal Investigator (PI), without the need for requesting exceptions under campus contracts and grants policies. PI status is currently handled inconsistently across the UC libraries, which has sometimes resulted in the loss of high profile projects (and grant funds) to the University. Librarians, as academic appointees with subject area and grant management expertise, should enjoy the same opportunities (and be subject to the same conditions and review procedures) as members of the Academic Senate and other employee classifications eligible to submit proposals under the UC’s Contract and Grant Manual


Article 1 – Recognition 

Michael Yonezawa (UCR) and Jerrold Shiroma (UCM) presented our counter proposal, which aims to better recognize and support the changing nature of academic librarianship. Current contract language reflects an assumption that librarian positions always require at a minimum that the incumbent must hold an MLS, MLIS, MMIS, or equivalent library degree. While these degrees served as a benchmark and status quo for librarianship, in current practice, UC librarianship embraces professionals from a variety of backgrounds and degrees. Furthermore, we know that recruitment and retention of librarians is a problematic issue within the UC. Our proposed modifications to Article 1 ensure there is more breathing room to recognize the diverse skills that adjacent professionals can bring to the librarian series. 


Article 30 – Reasonable Accommodation, and Article 31 – Medical Separation

Kristen LaBonte (UCSB) and Jared Campbell (UCD) presented our counter proposals to Articles 30 and 31, respectively. Our aim in the article on Reasonable Accommodation is to simplify the language of the article in order to highlight the central nature of the interactive process between the University and the employee seeking an accommodation. UC-AFT also proposed a more detailed definition for when the University will not implement an accommodation that would present an undue hardship. For the article covering Medical Separation, our counter proposal eliminated some redundant language concerning medical documentation introduced by the University but already laid out in Article 30. 

While we believe our proposals are fair, defensible, and reflect the changing needs of UC Librarians, they’re not a done deal. We look forward to seeing the University’s counter proposals, and UC-AFT will continue to demand these and other improvements to our contract. 


University Proposals

The University offered a proposal for Article 5 – Personnel Review Action Procedure and Article 25 – Arbitration. They also passed a counter proposal to Article 9 – Health and Safety. The table team will be analyzing their proposals and counters, which will be discussed at a future bargaining date. 


Tentative Agreement on two articles!

UC-AFT and the University have reached a tentative agreement (“TA”) on Article 6 – Personnel Files and Article 24 – Grievance Procedure. This means that both parties have mutually agreed on contract language for these particular articles, so essentially these two pieces of our negotiations are finished. Of course, when all of the articles are complete, the UC-AFT members will vote whether to ratify the entire contract (hence the “tentative” status). Only after a ratification will a new contract enter into effect. 

The TA-ed Article 6 makes worker-friendly changes to the handling of redactions to a librarian’s personnel file. The TA-ed Article 24 makes clarifications around timelines for grievances, and also simplifies the process by requiring email for grievance communications (as opposed to U.S. Mail, fax, or hand delivery). 


Zoom bargaining

At the January 19th session, Unit 17 Chief Negotiator Kendra K. Levine led the discussion around ground rules for Zoom bargaining. We are happy to report that UC-AFT and the University have agreed to conduct a bargaining session on Zoom on Tuesday, January 30. We agreed on acceptable ground rules and look forward to a productive session. 

Since the beginning of our negotiations, UC-AFT has been demanding the opportunity to host some of our bargaining sessions virtually. We know both UC-AFT and other UC unions have extensive experience with efficient and productive Zoom negotiations. And the University conducts a wide range of their business using Zoom as well. 

By leveraging Zoom for at least some of our negotiations, our aim is to increase access to bargaining for our members, to reduce the significant travel costs associated with negotiations, and to cut down on our climate impacts and carbon footprint.  

We’ll soon share more information on how UC librarians and others can observe bargaining on January 30.


In Solidarity,

The UC-AFT Unit 17 Table Team

Kendra K. Levine, Bay Area, Chief Negotiator
I-Wei Wang, Bay Area
Timothy Vollmer, Bay Area
Jared Campbell, Davis
Mitchell Brown, Irvine
Xaviera Flores, Los Angeles
Miki Goral, Los Angeles
Rachel Green, Los Angeles
Joy Holland, Los Angeles
Jerrold Shiroma, Merced
Carla Arbagey, Riverside
Michael Yonezawa, Riverside
Tori Maches, San Diego
Laurel McPhee, San Diego
Jenny Reiswig, San Diego
Kristen LaBonte, Santa Barbara
Alix Norton, Santa Cruz
Tamara Pilko, Santa Cruz
Jess Waggoner, Santa Cruz