Bargaining Update #13 – June 10, 2024

Our thirteenth bargaining session with UCOP started off on a happy note, as UC-AFT table team members and observers showed off our new Pride Month backgrounds on Zoom. We had a very productive session, with both sides of the table exchanging a number of articles and discussing where we still have some disagreement on the issues and contract language. (What a way to celebrate UCSD bargaining team member Jenny Reiswig’s birthday!)

In particular, UC-AFT has stood our collective ground on the Definition section of Article 4. We are firm in our position that the definition of librarian in our contract should match that in the Academic Personnel Manual (APM 360-4). We want to call your attention to this extremely important issue here, but please read on below for more details. If you have any questions about any of the issues still on the table, or about the bargaining process, feel free to reach out to any table team members!

We are nearly ready to tentatively agree (TA) on six articles; we will give them one more re-read to verify that all changes agreed to on both sides are correct and then sign off. This includes: 

  • Article 6 (Personnel Files)
  • Article 10 (UC-AFT Rights)
  • Article 11 (Release Time)
  • Article 15 (Tuition/Fee Waiver, now re-named Reduced Fee Enrollment)
  • Article 17 (Management Rights)
  • Article 24 (Grievance Procedure)

It’s good to get some articles behind us. At the same time, we are all awaiting the University’s economic counter proposals on professional development (UC-AFT’s proposal for Article 3 was on January 19), and salary & benefits (UC-AFT’s counter proposal for Article 13 was on March 5). It’s high time for the University to put these central articles back on the table.

UC-AFT Proposals

Article 18 – Temporary Appointments

Previously, UC-AFT agreed to the University’s language about their discretion to convert a temporary appointment to a potential career status appointment (which may include conducting an off-cycle review to inform this decision). We’re encouraged about this new language acknowledging a pathway to potential career status for temporary librarians.

In our counter today we agreed to remove language relating to layoff in this article since the Layoff provisions (Article 8) already cover temporary appointees. We clarified language that the release of a temporary librarian before their appointment is completed must be based on performance concerns. The University has accepted that temporary librarians deserve written notice of at least 14 days in advance of a release, and we asserted in today’s proposal that notice should include not only the reason but also supporting evidence for the release, and continue to urge that matters relating to release should be subject to arbitration.

Article 25 – Arbitration

Our current counter on Article 25 focuses on making the arbitration process efficient and timely. Problems with arbitrator availability and the University’s delays on arbitrability questions have sometimes stretched this process to upwards of a year—on top of the grievance, which itself can take 6 months to a year and precedes the arbitration step. Our proposals are designed to encourage timely communications about arbitrability issues and timely action on arbitrator selection and scheduling. We look forward to hearing the University’s response, as it appears we might be circling closer to mutually acceptable language.

Article 32 – Flexible and Remote Work Arrangements

Our counter on Article 32 clarified protections we want to ensure for those in remote work arrangements. As we discussed before, we believe that fully remote workers need adequate notice for modifications to their remote work arrangements—14 days (the current notification timeline on some campuses) is unacceptably short for such a major change. We proposed a minimum provision in the article for a 90-day timeline across different options (either accepting the modification, requesting reassignment to another fully remote position, or not accepting the modification and therefore possibly separating from the University). Each iteration of our proposal for this article has asserted our view that the article should be subject to grievance and arbitration, especially since we are adding so much language that was not in our previous contract, and we want to be able to enforce these new protections.

The University countered our proposal today, accepting our timeline for 90 days, but insisting that the article remain non-grievable and non-arbitrable, and that Article 23 (Corrective Action and Dismissal) provisions are not applicable to any employment separation because of a location modification. We look forward to continuing to engage with the University on this article to strengthen the hybrid and remote work arrangements that are proving useful in helping recruit and retain librarians.

University Proposals

Article 2 – Nondiscrimination

For this article, now renamed “Prohibitions on Workplace Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Abusive Conduct, and Retaliation,” the University passed a new counter proposal, absorbing some of our language regarding academic freedom and free speech principles applicable in such cases, while more explicitly referencing applicable University policies. The University continues to press for automatically suspending the grievance process on discrimination claims pending investigation by the University’s responsible office (usually the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination). We explored questions about the relationship between such investigations and the contractual grievance process, which the University has agreed to try to clarify.  

Article 4 – Definition, Criteria, Terms of Service for Appointment, Merit Increase, Promotion and Career Status

The University passed another counter proposal to this important article dealing with the core description and definition of who we are as librarians. The University continues to reject our proposal to have the definitional language track with the current text in the Academic Personnel Manual (specifically, APM 360-4 with Article 4.A in our contract). That language was updated and approved in 2016 following consultation and collaboration between LAUC, library administration, the Academic Senate, and other stakeholders. However, the University is proposing to maintain the 1986 language. 

Given that the University has already proposed that other contemporary APM language be adopted within this same Article in a later section (APM 210–4 with 4.C regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion), the rejection of current APM definitions in Section A is baffling. Some table talk around this definition in Article 4 left questions for the table team as to the University’s insistence on obsolete definitions until a new APM is proposed. We feel any newly proposed APM language must go through the same review process as the current APM, and with the same crucial stakeholders, at which time we can discuss the potential incorporation of any prospective language into our contract. In the interim, current APM definitions best reflect librarian work at UC. Further questioning by the table team revealed some objections to the definition of librarian including references to being involved in research and creative activities, even though this is clearly outlined in current APM 360 language. The University indicated that they hold the position that research is not a core element of our profession when compared to other academic titles across the UC system, which has broad implications for not only our fundamental definitions as librarians, but also for our established procedures for review and promotion.

The University’s counter also proposed some simple language changes around mutual agreement to “abbreviated review” (an option for those at the top of the Associate or Librarian ranks who are not seeking merit advancement, promotion, or career status) and around criteria for appointment. The University accepted some important language (presented in our last Article 4 counter) regarding the requirement of remediation plans and steps in the rare circumstances that the appointee is claimed to not be performing satisfactorily as a librarian at their rank. The University accepted and incorporated our proposal for a written remediation plan to address the perceived deficiencies, which we introduced to provide important guard rails for career-level librarians to address and satisfy concerns before a subsequent review.

We encourage UC librarians to keep an ear to the ground as the University begins the process later this year for a revision to APM 360, particularly the language that defines librarians.

UC-AFT issued a quick response that crystallizes the remaining matter of disagreement on this article. As in our earlier counter, we continue to advocate for the modernized APM 360-4 definition of the work that librarians do. We reiterated that our proposal for the definition is to adopt the current language from 2016. The University’s insistence to revert to language from 1986 is mystifying.

Article 5 – Personnel Review Action Procedure

At our last bargaining session, UC-AFT offered some clarifying language to ensure procedural protections on any review that could lead to termination, such as career cases or reviews with performance questions. Today UC countered with alternative wording to address this final contended aspect of Article 5. As usual, we’ll be examining their text and determining whether to make another counter.

Upcoming Bargaining: June 27

We’ll be coming back to bargaining on June 27. We plan to return to the table with another counter proposal on the crucial Article 29 – Waiver (which is important in articulating the relationship between UC-AFT, LAUC, and the University), and hopefully several others.  

Do you have questions about where we are in the bargaining process, and what comes next? Please reach out to your campus’s table team representative(s).

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
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