LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — For the first time in 20 years, non-tenured professors, lecturers, and other University of California faculty members say they will stage a two-day walkout this week over the years-long dispute over several labor issues.
"This marks a straw that broke the camel's back," said Caroline Luce, a lecturer at UCLA. "Even starting salary for a full-time lecturer at this moment qualifies them as extremely low income."
The two-day walkout would start Wednesday and continue into Thursday, and could affect classes at UCLA and UC Irvine.
The University Council-American Federation of Teachers represents lecturers, adjunct professors hired on a yearly or quarterly basis, and librarians, and is affiliated with the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. The union says they have filed seven unfair labor practice charges with the California Public Employees Relations Board over the past 20 months, and have accused UC President Michael Drake's administration of failing to bargain in good faith.
UC-AFT claims UC's family leave policy excludes thousands of lecturers – the majority of whom teach part-time and are more likely to be women and caregivers – from its family leave policy of providing eight weeks of paid leave so employees can care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. UC-AFT is also demanding more compensation for online instruction and essential teaching supplies and settlement terms after employer retirement contributions were improperly withheld.
"The University of California is disappointed with UC-AFT's decision to pursue a two-day strike – withholding instruction is grossly unfair to our students and a strike does not move closer to a contract," a statement from UC said. "The union's unfair labor practice claims against UC are neither supported by the facts nor any finding by the California Public Employment Relations Board."
UC officials say their negotiators presented the union with a "comprehensive proposal" on Oct. 11 that included substantial pay increases, greater transparency in job expectations, and mechanisms for addressing workload concerns.
UC-AFT has invited students to join their picket line and asked its members who teach remotely to turn off access to their websites during the walkout.
"Even though they are lecturers, I mean they are workers and they deserve fair pay and their own rights," said student Yuki Kuwhara. "I hope they get their justice and I hope they get paid what they deserve."
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