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UC Lecturer Union Protests for Better Teaching and Working Conditions

December 5, 2015

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Brendan Yu

About a dozen lecturers at the University of California Irvine staged a rally in support of the UC-AFT’s (University Council – American Federation of Teachers) efforts to negotiate improved pay, benefits, rights, and protections with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) at the campus flagpoles Friday afternoon.

During the Christmas themed informational picket, non-senate faculty donned Santa hats and handed out informational packets with candy canes detailing their plight to passerby on Ring Road.

“The bottom line is [non-senate faculty] are an incredible part of the workforce at the UC and the UCOP, with whom we are in contract bargaining, keeps jerking us around and keeps making us wait,” said UC-AFT Local 2226 President and English Department Lecturer Andrew Tonkovich.

The protest coincided with the two-day bargaining session (Dec. 3-4) that took place in Oakland between the UC-AFT and the UCOP as a show of solidarity. The UC-AFT and UCOP had already been through nine months of bargaining and two contract extensions prior to the Oakland session.

Among the demands of the UC-AFT are more stable appointments, Social Security benefits for part-time lecturers, and access to campus and departmental governance for lecturers.

In a press release, the UC-AFT noted that lecturers were “often treated as second-class citizens by administrators and Senate faculty” within the UC.

Lecturers are faculty that are not eligible for tenure, despite teaching approximately 1/3 of all courses taken by students during their undergraduate careers. Additionally, some lecturers are excluded from Social Security benefits and pension, although they teach the same classes as tenured professors.

“They really just get paid to teach and that’s it,” said Honora St. Clair, Union Field Rep. “That isn’t standard for any other employee in the state of California.

“In the UC system, it’s appalling to think that some of the lecturers here can work here for thirty years without anything to take away from that.”

To make ends meet, several lecturers, dubbed “freeway flyers” due to the frequency with which they commute, teach at multiple colleges throughout one quarter.

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[Source]: New University

Last modified: December 16, 2015

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