The University of California-American Federation of Teachers has scheduled negotiations with UC administration for February and hopes that the soon-to-be expired librarian contract will pressure the administration to settle the lecturers’ contract more equitably.

Lecturers have been negotiating their three-year contract with UC for the last two and a half years, and although resolution seems a long way off, the University and the union may be getting closer. Rebecca Rhine, chief negotiator for Unit 18, said the UC is beginning to acknowledge the concerns of the union.

“Anytime our concerns are acknowledged by virtue of being incorporated into contract language – no matter how inartfully – it is a notable event,” said Rhine.

Although Rhine said the modifications to which UC has agreed are insufficient, they have encouraged UC-AFT to continue striving for middle ground.

Some of the areas of the contract modified by UC were the proposals to limit the administration’s ability to use graduate students to replace lecturers and promises not to fire lecturers after a pay increase merely to save money. The union would also like lecturers to receive due respect for their roles as the majority of instructors on UC campuses.

“Universities across the country are going for a smaller tenure faculty and a larger body of lecturers as a way of saving money,” said UC-AFT field representative Allegra Heidelinde. “The University administration has to recognize the value of lecturers – at the core that is what these negotiations are about,” Heidelinde said.

Also up for negotiation this spring are the UC librarians, who make up UC-AFT’s unit 17. Heidelinde said the upcoming expiration of the librarians’ contract could aid UC-AFT in its lecturers’ contract negotiations by putting more pressure on the administration to resolve the lecturers’ contract before it begins negotiating with the librarians.

“If this [lecturers’] contract is not settled by spring, the librarian contract’s expiration will add more wood to the fire,” Heidelinde said. “The expiration of the librarian contract challenges and pressures the administration because having four of our 13 contracts unsettled would not look good.”

UC officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday through Friday afternoon.