Image courtesy of UC AFT Instagram: @uc_aft
In the early hours of Nov. 17, negotiators for UC-AFT, the union that represents our lecturers, came to a successful agreement with the University of California admin. The strike that was planned for the coming Wednesday and Thursday was canceled, and classes that were canceled for Thursday resumed as scheduled. On Wednesday afternoon, UC-AFT members celebrated their historic wins with their allies, which included students and other labor unions fighting similar battles on campus such as AUW 2865 and AFSCME 3299.
Prior to this new agreement, lecturers were in a very vulnerable position — they had no job security, despite working long and extra hours for their students. They had no guarantee of being hired at their respective campuses for future appointments. They also were paid very little, with some lecturers needing multiple jobs in addition to teaching their students. The UC’s decision to cut costs by hiring lecturers came at the expense of the lecturers’ livelihoods.
This new agreement brings about a “robust system for moving lecturers from their initial hire to continuing appointment”, offering lecturers two-year appointments all the way up to three-year appointments at their respective campuses. UC-AFT was able to gain wins such as a 30% wage increase, job security, and paid family leave for UC lecturers, which gives lecturers time to bond with their infants. This is a life-changing agreement for many lecturers.
At Wednesday’s victory rally, a range of speakers from within the union spoke, including Caroline Luce, UC-AFT’s communications chair. She thanked the many people that showed up for UC-AFT and MCed the victory rally. Many others spoke of the struggles and triumphs of this years-long fight, especially as the pandemic continues to make working conditions difficult for most lecturers. They also thanked their allies, including students who had become vocal supporters of the cause.
While UC-AFT was able to win this contract, there are still other labor issues on campus worth paying attention to. AFSCME 3299 and UAW 2865 are other unions on campus that are waging their own battles against the administration. AFSCME is currently fighting to get the UC to stop outsourcing labor as well as better compensation. Two years ago, UAW 2865 held wildcat strikes for better working conditions and for their wages to match the cost of living. The fight for labor rights on campus is still going on, and this is only one battle of many that are to come.
Author: Judah C (They/Them)
Copy Editors: Emma Blakely (They/She/He), Bella (She/They)