higher education

Deal Averts Strike by University of California Lecturers

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The University of California and a union representing 6,500 lecturers reached agreement early Wednesday on a tentative contract agreement that averted a planned two-day strike at the system's campuses, both parties said.

The University Council-American Federation of Teachers immediately urged its members to conduct classes as usual.

“Strike is off,” the union tweeted before dawn.

The union called for noon rallies at nine campuses to celebrate the deal, which followed more than 2 1/2 years of bargaining.

The university and union said in a joint statement that the agreement calls for a five-year contract covering lecturers throughout the UC system and includes job stability, workload and compensation.

“Most urgently, the parties reached a resolution to four unfair labor practice charges previously filed by the union. UC-AFT has, accordingly, canceled the strike previously called for Nov. 17 and 18, and classes are expected to proceed without disruption today and Thursday,” the statement said.

Letitia Silas, UC’s executive director of systemwide labor relations, outlined key elements of the deal in a letter to union members.

They include:

— A pay increase of at least 7% for all bargaining unit members 60 days following contract ratification, in addition to an average 1.3% pay increase in the first year.

— Annual pay increases of 3% for all bargaining unit members in the following three years of the contract.

— A 4% pay increase for all bargaining unit members in the final year of the contract;

— A $1,500 one-time lump sum contract ratification payment.

Among job protection and advancement terms, the contract would encourage department chairs to consider part-time lecturers for additional assignments before recruiting external candidates, and ensure higher-paid lecturers are not replaced with those who are paid less.

“The new contract provides greater transparency and fair assessment of workload assignments, workload summaries by department, and includes the creation of an academic panel to address workload issues,” Silas wrote.

The deal also addresses “family care and bonding” by including four weeks of leave at 100% of pay for all bargaining unit members.

A ratification vote is expected to begin later this week.

“The lecturers, who teach one-third of the system’s credit classes, secured a contract that is fair to them and good for their students," American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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