University of California lecturers announced Wednesday that they have rejected UC’s latest contract offer, which is likely to trigger state intervention in the 2 1/2-year-old labor dispute rooted in salary, job security and contract arbitration issues.
“We’re not going to accept their offer,” said Fred Glass, spokesperson for the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which represents 4,000 lecturers across the nine-campus UC system, according to a union count, and 2,500 according to UC.
University spokesperson Paul Schwartz said Wednesday that the university had not yet reviewed a formal union response to UC’s latest contract offer, which was issued Oct. 23. As a result, Schwartz said, he could not definitively reply to the union’s apparent rejection of the contract.
But Schwartz indicated that, if the union is unwilling to compromise, the university may tell the state that an “impasse” exists in negotiations. If the state confirms that there is a deadlock, it would begin an official “fact-finding” process and propose contract terms of its own. If the university and union turn down the state’s proposal, the university would have the power to impose a final contract.
“If we continue to be far apart on the issues, we could be headed toward fact-finding,” Schwartz said.
By all indications the lecturers, who took part in a UC Berkeley strike in August and walked off the job at five other UC campuses earlier this month, are unwilling to cave in on several key contract matters.
In its Oct. 23 proposal, the university offered to raise the minimum annual salary for lecturers, which currently stands at $28,968, to $35,868 for those with less than six years experience and $40,200 for those with more than six years.
The lecturers, who teach 25 to 30 percent of UC classes, have maintained that the raise is insufficient and will only affect a relatively small number of instructors who currently make less than the proposed $35,868 minimum. University officials have countered that the $7,000 increase is a significant one.
Glass said Wednesday that the union still considers the salary offer inadequate. He added that job security language and professional development money included in the latest UC offer is insufficient. Glass also clung to long-standing union insistence on independent arbitration of contract disputes. The university currently serves as the final authority in any dispute.
“We’re absolutely committed to neutral dispute resolution,” Glass said, arguing that the rest of the contract won’t mean a “darn thing” without it.
Glass said a move toward “impasse” and state mediation would be a university decision, not a union move.
“That’s not what we’re going for,” he said. “We believe there’s more room for negotiation.”
Union officials said last week that the university sprung a comprehensive, take-it-or-leave-it contract proposal on them Oct. 23 in the midst of contract negotiations, and criticized the university for cutting off talks.
University officials countered that 2 1/2 years of negotiations was “more than sufficient time to discuss the issues” and said the union must be willing to compromise to get a final contract.
The university hires lecturers to focus on teaching courses, while tenure-track professors are expected to conduct research as well. Lecturers work on one-year contracts until they have six years of experience, at which point they receive three-year deals, contingent on solid job performance reviews.
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