By Diana Zhu
DAVIS – The members of UC-AFT, the union that represents contingent teaching faculty across the University of California school system, have voted with an overwhelming majority of 96 percent to authorize a strike against the UC management, where negotiations have consistently failed to meet, let alone address, UC-AFT’s key priorities.
This authorization took place more than sixteen months after the expiration of their last contract and the time of their joint bargaining negotiations.
Consistent review and rehiring processes are placed to ensure UC retains its best instructors and realistic enforceable workload standards that provide UC students with the best possible standard of education, and fair compensation for the lecturers’ contributions to UC and its students.
There have been no proposals regarding evaluations and rehiring processes that would give the lecturers some form of job stability.
Though there have not yet been any layoffs over the pandemic, UC administrators have failed to renew the contracts of about 2,000 lecturers across the system.
Educators have been denied a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment that was once to be extended to other UC faculty and employees.
UC-AFT member-organizer Shannon Garland said, “UC’s salary proposal will not keep pace with inflation and amounts to a pay cut in real terms for a group of workers earning a median annual salary of $19,067.”
Before the strike authorization vote, thousands of lecturers and allies attended open collective bargaining sessions, joined car caravans and conducted email and postcard campaigns demanding action from current UC President Michael V. Drake, who has yet to respond to outreach.
The solution that educators said they feel they must come to is to combat UC administrators’ inaction and refusal to change their views by withholding labor.
Student, staff and tenure-track faculty allies are amongst those who have sent out hundreds of letters to the UC Regents and consistently offered their support to lecturers throughout this campaign.
The collective efforts of the community have resulted in 96 percent of UC-AFT lecturers voting to authorize a strike.
However, the UC-AFT will go on strike immediately as the UC lecturers have placed their trust in their democratically-elected colleagues who play a vital role in calling for a legally protected strike, in case UC management fails to fairly address the problems lecturers have brought to light.
UC-AFT member-organizer Caroline Luce said, “This vote is a testament to our unity and strength… It serves as a collective expression of our hope that there remains a possibility for progress at the negotiating table and that this collective action will encourage UC administration to accept UC-AFT’s full-package proposal put forward on May 25.”
With recent strikes, such as the 2020 UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), strikes demand attention to avoid the unbalanced and unfair living discrepancy in the community of UCSB.
UCSB has become an essential institution in this community, but the very members of that community could not afford to live there.
The UC management may recognize the voices of the UC lecturers as they play a vital role in their institute. The hope is for them to eliminate the repetition of poorly handled disputes between employees and employers.
Diana Zhu is a fourth-year transfer student from Rancho Cucamonga, CA. She is majoring in Chinese and minoring in Professional Writing.
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