Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Unions, Furloughs, and UC Unity

The UC Office of the President has informed UC-AFT that Unit 18 lecturers will not be participating in the furlough plan. Contrary to some reports, our union has not refused to accept pay reductions; rather, the university decided not to use furloughs as the main way of gaining salary savings from our unit. While we were willing to have conversations about the furlough plan with UCOP, the university did not want to answer any of our most basic questions (how would the furloughs affect our workers? how much money were they trying to save by furloughing our people?). Most importantly, the university would not give us any information on past, present, and future layoffs, and so we were unable to even start a conversation with UCOP.

Making matters worse, the UC has embarked on an anti-union campaign, which includes blaming the unions for not accepting the shared sacrifices of the furloughs. In this attempt to pit non-unionized against unionized workers, the university may have overplayed its hand because we are now witnessing an unprecedented collaboration between represented and nonrepresented workers in the UC system. For instance, over 10,000 UC employees, including non-unionized staff, students, and senate faculty recently voted that they had no confidence in President Yudof's leadership. Also events are being planned for the coming months that will help to unite unions with nonrepresented professors and other staff and workers. While the university engages in a divide and conquer strategy, the students, faculty, staff, and workers are uniting.


  1. Thanks for another informative post. One can only assume that UCOP intends to achieve budget reductions from Unit 18 some other way, i.e., layoffs. After seeing how the post-six lecturers were summarily dismissed at UCLA, it is easy to imagine the worst. How can UCOP refuse to engage in negotiations and unilaterally decide that lecturers will not participate in the furlough plan while simultaneously blaming unions for "not accepting the shared sacrifices of furloughs"?

  2. bob - I'm not sure I understand. They will simply cut Unit 18 pay? Or there are no cuts or furloughs?

  3. It is unclear how they will do the cuts or how much. UCOP wants to keep its options open.

  4. Any news on the post-six lay-offs Bob?

    How many post-six lecturers have been sent lay-off letters please?

    eric scerri

  5. Here are some of the lecturer layoffs that we know of (also, lecturers in their first six years do not have to get one-year layoff notices, and many have simply been not rehired:
    UC Berkeley
    Physical Education Program has been reduced by 50%, all the lecturers agreed to take a 50% cut, which avoided the least senior people being laid off
    French Department issued layoffs for this coming year, rescinded them, and then promptly reissued them for 2010-11
    Comp Lit department laid off two people effective 2010-11
    School of Engineering issued layoff notices for 2010-11 to its entire continuing faculty
    East Asian Languages has lost most of its pre-six faculty
    Celtic Studies has issued a layoff or reduction notice to a CA for 2010-2011

    UC Santa Barbara

    Music- Laid off guitar lecturer and ended guitar instruction, cancelled theory courses and laid off theory lecturer
    Drama Dance- Cut several courses
    Korean Language Program- Program cancelled, 2 lecturers laid off effective July 1, 2010, these NSF were partially reinstated due to union grievance settlement

    UC Los Angeles

    Sixty-seven continuing appointment lecturers in the College of Letters and Sciences have been given layoff notices with effective dates of August 1, 2010.
    Sociology: 2 lecturers given 1 year layoff notice eff 2010-11
    Teacher Education: 1 lecturer reduced from 100% to 50%
    School of Engineering: 1 lecturer laid off effective April 2010; 10 lecturers given appointment reductions effective this Fall 2009
    Asian Languages & Cultures: For first year Japanese, Korean and Chinese the first year enrollments are being reduced from 160 students down to 60. The department only wants to offer language instruction to those enrolled in a department minor and major. There is talk of eliminating the foreign language requirement.
    Summer Session: Asian Language TA's were reduced from 100% to 50%. Lecturers are expected to pick up the slack.
    Writing Program: Class size was increased from 20 to 25 students.

    UC Riverside

    Campus is withholding almost all reappointment letters (fewer than 10 people campuswide have received annual reappointment letters, out of approximately 150 pre-6 lecturers). We have filed a grievance over failure to make a good faith effort to meet the June 15 deadline.

    UC Irvine

    Laid off 37 continuing appointees in sciences and social sciences

  6. I fail to see the logic in adamantly resisting furloughs only to see members laid off. The latest update to the librarians group says that "we believe" that UC wouldn't lay off individual librarians, but instead spread them out as 94% appointments across a campus. Why do we believe that? The lecturer situation would seem to imply that UC is in no way averse to laying off individuals. It saves them more because they get to drop the benefits. But even if it *were* true, why is that preferable to a furlough plan where benefit accruals and retirement impacts have already been dealt with? Do we think this 94% appointment is going to come with 100% benefits/retirement? In the end we need to be fighting to get the best possible outcome. I don't see layoffs as better than furloughs and I suspect many of my colleagues feel the same.

  7. UC-AFT has not adamantly opposed furloughs. For lecturers, the university simply took the furlough option off the table, and for librarians, we will know more shortly.

  8. Thanks, Bob, for another informative post.
    10,000 votes of no-confidence in Yudoff! I hope someone at UCOP is listening.

  9. As a lecturer, I would much rather participate in the furlough program, or take an equivalent cut in pay,
    than be laid off or see my colleagues laid off.

    Perhaps the UC-AFT has not "adamantly" opposed furloughs, but the UC-AFT website states that
    "UC-AFT rejects the furlough plan for the following reasons..."

  10. The letter from University Negotiator Peter Chester to UC-AFT Executive Director Karen Sawislak is interesting to read both for what it says and what it does not say. In the letter Chester states:

    "...as a result of our discussions over the past two weeks, Unit 18 bargaining unit members ("NSF") will not be participating in the Salary Reduction/Furlough Program (the "Program")..."

    I wonder who was involved in these "discussions" and what factors contributed to the decision to exclude Unit 18. The fact that lecturers are paid solely to instruct (and hence can not reasonably be asked to take furloughs on non-instruction days) may have been a consideration.

    The letter continues:

    "...the University reserves the right to achieve budgetary savings targeted by the Program through the traditional cost reduction measures outlined in the Unit 18 collective bargaining agreement."

    I assume this is code for layoffs and non-reappointments.

    The last point Chester makes is the following:

    "Finally, because NSF will not be participating in the Program, the University will not be responding to that portion of the AFT's information request... that relates to Unit 18 involvement in the Program."

    Translation: "We are not obligated to provide information concerning the hidden workings of the UC budget." This resistance to transparency is consistent with the difficulties Senate Faculty are experiencing on the issue of "shared governance."

    The important point here is that UC-AFT never rejected furloughs outright; it simply requested relevant budgetary information in order to prepare for good faith contract negotiations. In the end it was UCOP that rejected NSF participation in the salary reduction/furlough plan and *not* UC-AFT.

    This decision, which is somehow being cast as the result of the union's unwillingness to negotiate, serves UCOP's apparent preference for NSF layoffs over furloughs or salary reduction and its desire to keep the inner financial workings of the University out of the public eye.

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