UCSB members of the University of California American Federation of Teachers met Wednesday to discuss striking over the current state of negotiations between campus lecturers and University administration.
The UCAFT has been bargaining over contracts since March 2000. A two-day strike by the UC Davis chapter of the AFT has fueled concerns as the union, which represents university lecturers, plans and coordinates bargaining actions with the other UC campus unions.
“We believe that the University has not been bargaining in good faith,” said Bob Samuels, a bargainer for the UCAFT and lecturer in the Writing Dept. “We are asking for a salary scale and more job security. We’ve gotten virtually nothing after 21 months, and only been offered a half of a one percent salary increase and seen nothing more.”
Lecturers teach over 50 percent of classes in the UC system and are a vital part of the education students receive, but they go widely unnoticed by the University administration, Samuels said.
“Most of us are full-time, long-term employees with Ph.D.’s, and the University still considers us part-time,” said Samuels. “Some of our faculty have taught full time for 10 years, and still make less than $40,000 a year.”
One of the main complaints among lecturers is the lack of job security and unequal pay, said Carole Paul, a lecturer in the Art History Dept. Paul said the UCAFT is still waiting for any sort of recognition from the University – positive or negative.
“It’s really important these issues get addressed, especially for the students,” Paul said. “Issues like this directly impact the quality of education for students because without a stable teaching force, we are unable to effectively create long-term adequate programs for students.”
At other UC campuses, such as UCLA, six courses a year would make a lecturer a full-time faculty member and at UCSB it takes nine, Paul said.
The AFT and other groups that are bargaining for a contract have taken the success of the California Nurses Association, which recently threatened a strike and then received its demands from the university, as a lesson. Debbie Ceder, a support secretary in the Physics Dept. and the southern vice president of the UC-wide Coalition University Employees, said CUE has also considered striking.
“The University has been telling everyone that there’s no money due to this year’s budget crisis, and after the CNA strike, all of a sudden the University came to the bargaining table and was able to come to an agreement,” said Ceder. “So if it takes a strike, then it takes a strike.”