Bargaining Update #6 – February 22, 2024

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

Today your UC-AFT Librarians’ Table Team met with the University for our 6th contract bargaining session, our second session on Zoom. We were joined by observers in the Zoom room who included union librarians, UC-AFT staff, and supporters. We had another productive session, which included discussion of previously-passed proposals from both sides of the virtual bargaining table. 

Abstract of this update: We presented our new counter proposal for Article 32 – Flexible Work Arrangements, and restated our proposals for Article 21 – Vacation and Article 22 – Holidays. We need your stories about seeking alternative arrangements to work during Winter Curtailment: participate in a quick survey! The University passed counter proposals for Article 30 – Reasonable Accommodation and Article 31 – Medical Separation. We will bargain next on March 5 at UC Irvine! 

UC-AFT Proposals

Article 32 – Flexible Work Arrangements

Your bargaining team passed a counterproposal for Article 32 (Flexible Work Arrangements). To fully understand where we are on this article, let’s rewind to the original proposal we passed at UCLA on January 19. At that session, we advocated to strengthen 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. 

Disappointingly, the University’s January 30 counter proposal rejected many of the sensible worker-supportive changes we suggested, partly due to lack of clarity on the different types of arrangements (including fully-remote work). 

Today we returned with a strong counter presented by table team member Tamara Pilko (UCSC). We clarified the three types of flexible work arrangements that should be available to Unit 17 librarians: alternate work schedules, hybrid-location arrangements, and full-time remote work arrangements. UC-AFT proposed language to assert that when librarians request flexible work arrangements, the University must take into consideration the individual librarian’s duties alongside the operational needs of their library department. We believe this approach strikes a solid balance between these two interests.  

  • Alternate work schedules. First, our counter proposal provides that librarians may request an alternate work schedule, such as a shifted workweek or shifted hours, which may include hours outside of the library building’s normal operating hours. As an example, this would permit a librarian to request working four 10-hour days in a workweek. Our proposal also requires that when the University modifies or ends an alternate work schedule, they must provide the Unit 17 librarian with at least 30 calendar days’ notice. We believe this is a reasonable and fair amount of time for librarians to be able to accommodate a change to their work schedules should the University demand a change. 
  • Hybrid-location arrangements. Second, our counter outlined that librarians may request a work schedule that regularly includes working remotely outside of the campus work location. Similar to the alternate work schedule above, UC-AFT librarians should be provided 30 days’ notice when the University modifies or terminates this type of flexible work arrangement. Our counter proposal here reiterates the provision in our opening proposal that librarians with this type of arrangement may request ergonomic office equipment and computer peripherals that are necessary for their work in a hybrid-location setting. Such requests would be made in accordance with local policy and procedures, and the University should not deny any reasonable request.  
  • Full-time remote work arrangements. Third, our counter proposal clarifies the situation in which Unit 17 librarians are hired as fully remote workers or have requested and been granted a flexible work arrangement in which they work 100% remotely. Our counter also recognizes that librarians with full-time remote work arrangements may also request an alternate work schedule. We echo our language that Unit 17 librarians with this type of flexible work arrangement must also be able to request similar ergonomic work equipment outlined above. This is particularly important for full-time remote workers to do jobs safely and effectively. Our proposal explains that if the University modifies a work location component of a full-time remote work arrangement (for example, by requiring a return to on-site work in some capacity), the librarian must be given at least 120 days’ notice. Finally, we propose potential options for librarians who cannot work onsite, including reassignment to an alternate fully remote work position, and we also identify the procedure for what happens when reassignment is not possible.

Article 21 – Vacation

We revisited our initial proposal from December for Article 21 – Vacation. Kendra K. Levine (UC Berkeley) walked through our position, focusing on two key issues for our members in this article: the University’s practice of mandating workers to use vacation during campus closures (such as Winter Curtailment), and the problems many librarians have had during this contract securing alternative arrangements to work as needed during Winter Curtailment. 

As academic workers, we frequently have work obligations through the winter period—such as research and creative activities required for career advancement, preparing for the new quarter, and writing review dossiers. We shared the fact that in some cases librarians have been actively discouraged from seeking alternative arrangements, having been preemptively told they would be denied. Our proposal aims to allow librarians to avoid being compelled to use vacation leave when there is work to be done over the holiday closure. 

We know this conversation around working through Winter Curtailment will continue, and we need your help! Please share your experience of seeking alternative arrangements to work over curtailment through this survey. Your stories will help us at the bargaining table to advocate for our collective needs. 

Article 22 – Holidays

Rachel Green (UCLA) presented our initial proposal on December 4 at Berkeley, in which we agreed to the addition of Juneteenth to the list of holidays observed. Our new proposal was to add three Personal Floating Holidays (PFHs). Rachel explained that PFHs have been—and still are—in place in both public and private sector employment across the country, dating back at least several decades. Rachel also shared her personal experience as a unit member who does not celebrate Christmas and has struggled with a current holiday structure that fails to equitably provide for holiday time for members who celebrate non-Christian days of religious or cultural significance. 

During the bargaining session on February 8, the University rejected all pieces of our proposal concerning PFHs. In doing so, the University thanked us for our proposal, without addressing our equity concerns, and commented that implementing PFHs would be too costly and would be challenging for UCPath to handle.

Today, we resubmitted our initial proposal, standing by UC workers’ need for an equitable holiday structure that respects all religious and cultural backgrounds. Rachel followed up with a number of questions, starting with what kind of financial calculation the University makes when adding holiday time. We also highlighted the importance of creating a holiday structure that does not discriminate against members of diverse backgrounds.

The University continued to invoke technical burdens of UCPath as an obstacle for implementing a program like PFHs, which does not actually address the substance of our proposal. 

We shared our willingness to consider alternative proposals that address our core concerns, reiterating that the University’s wholesale rejection of PFHs (without any alternatives) did not give us much to negotiate over. We also emphasized that while we appreciate being considered creative, this particular proposal was not especially creative—PFHs are earned by workers across the country, from those at universities and other academic or public institutions to those working at private companies. The University needs to update its policies to reflect its stated inclusive values by providing holiday observance options that equitably respect our members’ diverse backgrounds and needs.

University Proposals

The UC team presented counter proposals on Article 30 – Reasonable Accommodation and Article 31 – Medical Separation, focusing on a couple remaining areas in contention. We made good progress on understanding the University’s concerns behind the language they have proposed.

Next bargaining: March 5

Our next in-person bargaining will be at UC Irvine on Tuesday, March 5, followed by another Zoom session on Friday, March 15. The proposals we plan to present continue our case for respect of our work as academics. We look forward to seeing the University’s next round of proposals. Stay tuned for the link to register to attend. If you are able to join us in Irvine, we would love to have you in the room! 

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