Letters to the Editor: UC defends its contract offer in labor talks to avert a strike
The University of California is offering a bargain deal that would allow the faculty to leave the state without a strike.
The offer would allow faculty members to opt out of the union contract that they are currently required to accept by the University in order to save the state money — and would protect the University from having to pay them. What the offer does not offer is a way to provide the faculty full and regular wages and benefits that they are entitled to under the contract.
The University claims that the faculty members can opt out without being fired if the university can demonstrate a serious financial catastrophe, which will be established by an ad hoc committee on financial management. The panel will have 15 members, the University promises: 10 to represent the University faculty and five to represent the University workers. But the faculty members have a strong argument for not being a part of the ad hoc committee — they are not in a position to protect themselves. The only faculty member who can protect himself or herself is a tenured professor who is not even scheduled to be a part of the ad hoc committee. And that’s not even a possibility.
The members of the ad hoc committee are likely to be appointed by the governor and approved by the state Legislature and by the California Public Employee System board. The University itself will be represented by a single member chosen by the faculty.
But those appointed by the governor and by the state Legislature and by the board have a lot of explaining to do to the faculty. They are in a unique position of power to do that. And if they don’t explain to them why the faculty members get to skip the deal, then they will have created a lot of confusion and a lot of problems.
The University has used its bargaining power to buy time and it has used its bargaining power in the wrong manner. It has offered professors a deal that would be better for themselves and their colleagues; the deal would have allowed them to skip the deal and save the state $900 million, while giving them the chance to get higher wages and benefits. The University claims that by skipping the deal, they are saving themselves money, but it’s clear