University of California lecturers plan two-day strike at 9 campuses Wednesday

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Lecturers at nine University of California campuses will begin a two-day strike on Wednesday over what they say are unfair labor practices by the president’s office.

The UC system, which spans 10 college campuses across California, encompasses over 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff. Close to 5,000 lecturers each year are employed by UC, according to the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, the union representing UC lecturers.

The strike will involve canceling classes and halting grading, meetings, and other teaching-related work. Over 91% of union members voted to authorize the strike, according to the union’s Twitter page.

Lecturers will strike at the University of California, Davis, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Merced, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Los Angeles, Irvine, and San Diego, according to the union. University of California, San Francisco, is the only campus not expected to strike.

The union says it’s filed seven unfair labor practice charges in the past 20 months over the UC management’s refusal to engage in negotiating processes and rejection of the union’s contract. The two parties have been negotiating for a new contract since April 2019, but have been unable to find a compromise.

Some of the unfair labor practice charges include refusal to bargain over paid leave policy, rejecting mutually agreed-upon contract terms, and not bargaining over settlement terms after withholding employer retirement contributions.

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The labor practice charges “show a clear pattern of disrespect, lack of consideration, and unlawful actions, all of which interferes with our negotiating process and undermines our collective bargaining rights,” the union wrote.

Ryan King, the associate director of media relations at the UC president’s office, said in a statement that UC is “disappointed” with the union’s decision to strike “while we continue to bargain in good faith.”

“Withholding instruction is grossly unfair to our students and a strike does not move us closer to a contract,” King wrote. “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 (PERB).”

According to King, UC offered a proposal to the union during an all-day negotiation session on Tuesday. The offer provides increased compensation, additional benefits, clarifications about workload, and pre-six appointments, he said. Pre-six lecturers are those in their first six years of employment.

The two parties continued into another bargaining session on Wednesday, King said.

Unlike full-time faculty members at UC schools, lecturers are ineligible for tenure. They have a high turnover rate, with a quarter of lecturers not returning each year, CalMatters reported.

Across the country, thousands of workers are striking, including union members at John Deere and Kellogg. Grad student workers at Harvard and teachers in Ohio just ended strikes.

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