Bargaining Update #4 – January 30, 2024

Collection of Zoom profile squares with people holding fists in the air

Yesterday, the UC-AFT Librarian table team logged onto Zoom to conduct our fourth bargaining session with the University. We had an incredibly productive day passing proposals and engaging in constructive negotiations with the UC. 

Our bargaining is moving into some of the contract areas crucial to enabling librarians to function and excel as academics. And there was no better time than this to be joined by dozens of librarians, lecturers, and other observers from every UC campus, who lifted the table team with their presence online over the day. Not only did librarians demonstrate their support by being in the room with the team, they also shared their valuable ideas, questions, and experiences as academic workers during our internal caucuses. Thank you. 

From our perspective, Zoom bargaining was a success. Our professional approach and mutual ground rules made online bargaining just as effective, if not more so, as in-person negotiations. We look forward to additional opportunities to take advantage of this effective and efficient forum. 

UC-AFT Proposals

[New Article] – Sabbaticals 

Unit 17 Chief Negotiator Kendra K. Levine set the stage for our introduction of a new article on sabbaticals. Kendra noted that even though many UC librarians are not teachers per se in a classroom, we are indeed academics with significant responsibilities to keep the UC’s complex research and learning infrastructure running smoothly. Librarians also conduct their own original research and produce scholarship as academic appointees. We contribute positively to the University of California’s massive research output, the broader library profession, and the academic community at large. Yet a common refrain we hear from Unit 17 librarians is, “How can I make the time to engage in research with such a formidable workload and the significant resource constraints I’m under?” One way our contract could better support librarians in their desire to conduct in-depth research is through sabbaticals. 

Jared Campbell (UC Davis) passed our proposal on sabbaticals. It underscores that librarians should be entitled to sabbatical leave so we can be engaged in intensive programs of research and/or study, thus to become more effective scholars and to enhance our service to the University.

The sabbatical proposal is aligned with existing university policy for faculty academic appointees, drawing inspiration (and common language) from the UC’s Academic Personnel Manual. Ensuring librarians are provided the opportunity for sabbatical leave will put us on par with colleagues at the UC and other academic institutions. 

University Proposals

The University passed a proposal on Article 12 – Dues Deduction. They also passed counter-proposals on Article 1 – Recognition, Article 18 – Temporary Appointments, and Article 32 – Flexible Work Arrangements. Below are some of our initial impressions of the UC’s counters. 

Article 1 – Recognition

At the last bargaining session, UC-AFT proposed text that would expand the conditions under which the University must provide notice to the union when they wish to create a new non-represented position in one of the University libraries and when the job (based on degree requirements or duties and responsibilities) appears to be librarian work that should be a represented Librarian appointment. Our proposal noted that UC librarianship embraces professionals from a variety of backgrounds and degrees, thus the union should get notice, for example, when the degree requirements do not include MLIS but do include another appropriate degree(s) or equivalent experience in one or more fields relevant to library services. By widening this tent, we believe we’d be more accurately aligning with trends in the profession, as well as encouraging the cultivation of a more diverse librarian workforce at the UC. The University rejected our proposed changes, reverting to current contract language that requires that the University give notice only when the incumbent is required to hold an MLS, MLIS, MMIS, or equivalent library degree. We look forward to refining our proposals to ensure our contract accurately reflects the community of practice that UC librarianship comprises.

Article 18 – Temporary Appointments

At an earlier bargaining session, UC-AFT proposed significant changes to the temporary appointees article in order to offer temporary librarians an improved and clear pathway to potential career status appointment. Our proposal aimed to protect against the situation in which temporary librarians are subject to churn, especially when the funding that made those positions possible is extended. The UC rejected this change and countered with text that would technically open the possibility—at the University’s discretion—to convert temporary appointments to potential career status. We are committed to improving the experience and opportunities for temporary colleagues.

Article 32 – Flexible Work Arrangements

At UCLA on January 19, our flexible work arrangements (FWA) proposal aimed to both strengthen and level the playing field for librarians engaged in flexible work. A key aspect of our proposal reinforced the need for librarian FWA requests to be considered and responded to on an individual basis. The University’s counter proposal rejects many of the sensible worker-supportive changes we suggested. 

As always, your table table team will be analyzing their proposals and counters in greater detail. Together with you all, we’ll continue to demand the best possible outcomes for UC librarians.  

Next bargaining: UC Davis February 8

The table team extends its most sincere appreciation to all who came out to support us over Zoom bargaining. What an impressive demonstration of solidarity by member librarians! As you can see, our negotiations are heating up. And we need everyone’s help, particularly as we open other sections of the contract that relate deeply to our collective identity and role as academic workers. We need your experiences, suggestions, and guidance to help us shape our next contract. 

Our next bargaining will take place at UC Davis on Thursday, February 8. As usual, please reach out to your campus table team representatives if you have questions about the negotiations. And watch out for more ways to get involved in the organizing from our contract campaign committee.

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