Lecturers at the University of California are bargaining for a new contract in hopes of increasing pay that leaves some lecturers with a salary that is less than that of a high school teacher.

This week, college faculty members across the nation are participating in coordinated events for the first annual Campus Equity Week. The goal of the program, sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, is to educate the public on part-time college faculty’s low wages, few benefits and low job security.

According to a report by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, 72 percent of part-time teachers earn less than $3,000 per class, which is under $20,000 per year.

Although some campuses will be holding rallies and protests, UCSB activists will be passing out information in the Arbor and showing a documentary, “Degrees of Shame,” at noon on Thursday in the MultiCultural Center.

“We make a lot of contributions to the institution. We do very good work and we love teaching,” writing lecturer and UC-AFT Treasurer Madeleine Sorapure said. “I agree with the statement, ‘Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions and equal work deserves equal pay.'”

A major concern for lecturers is that their union and the University have been bargaining over new contracts since March of 2000 and lecturers cannot receive a pay increase during the period of bargaining, Sorapure said.

Fred Glass, a communication directive for the California Federation of Teachers, said the union is asking for more equitable treatment for contingent faculty – those who must reapply for their position every few years.

“Non-senate faculty is considered by the University to be disposable employees,” Glass said. “A cheaper workforce provides higher profits, but in a non-profit system, this should have no place.”

Lecturers, who are considered non-senate faculty but teach 40 percent of all undergraduate classes in California, must reapply for their position every three years and are not hired on a system that takes qualification into account, University Counsel-AFT field representative Allegra Heidelinde said. Non-tenure-track faculty, part-timers and graduate assistants teach 75 percent of introductory English courses and 72 percent of introductory foreign language courses.

“Our main concern is that the quality of education is being compromised,” Heidelinde said.

Nick Tingle has been lecturing in the writing program for 20 years and said the negotiations are purposely being delayed.

“The University, with its hired lawyers, has bargained constantly in bad faith; they have done everything in their power legally to delay, prolong and drag out negotiations with the overall goal of weakening the union and of doing nothing whatsoever to improve the working conditions of lecturers,” Tingle said. “I do not like feeling like a second-class citizen in what is considered by many the finest public university in the world.”

The bargaining process is progressing, University Labor Relations Manager Leslie Sanchez, said, but is taking more time than anticipated because of the complexity of the issues being discussed.

“The University has tremendous respect for the lecturers and the job they do,” she said. “In terms of how long it’s taking, there could be many reasons, but it’s not because the University does not respect them.”

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 420 in 1999, which expanded health insurance and paid office hours for part-time faculty who teach at least 40 percent of a full-time load. This year, Gov. Gray Davis also wrote $62 million into the state budget to compensate the 30,000 part-time faculty members at California universities, according to a report published by the AFT.