UC-AFT Local 1990: Reinvigorated Post-Janus

08/01/2019

by Daniel Schoorl, Vice-President, UC-AFT Local 1990

 Like most Unions, we knew the impact of the Janus V. AFSCME decision and braced for the worst. But unlike the apocalyptic narrative given by the media, our union, the University Council – American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT), is reinvigorated and stronger than ever. 

On the day of the ruling, the immediate response of our Los Angeles Local was to do what we do best, we joined a rally in front of the UCLA hospital and picketed with our union brothers and sisters.

A year out from the ruling, we have recommitted ourselves to organizing and have already seen the fruits of our labor with a rise in member engagement and member power.  

This past spring, our librarian unit ratified a new MOU by a 98% margin, with an unprecedented 94% of members voting. After working out of contract for approximately six months, this new MOU guarantees significant salary increases for librarians over its five-year length. Not to mention improved contract enforcement showing the power of organizing across all campuses. Our UCLA librarian organizing committee continues to meet regularly and has made it a priority to improve union orientations with new hires. With librarian recruitment and retention an ongoing issue at UCLA, this new contract has contributed greatly to nearly all of the recent new hires signing up for membership with very little hesitation.

More evidence of our focus on organizing can be seen in our contingent faculty unit. Lecturers, who teach one-third of all credit hours in the UC, understand how important it is to actively defend the teaching mission of the University and the best interests of students. With bargaining in its early stages, the UCLA contract campaign committee has been growing in members despite lecturers dealing with the uncertainty of reappointment for the upcoming academic year. High turnover for lecturers, mostly the result of administration policy, has been an ongoing challenge in our organizing efforts, and the Janus ruling has made clear that we must continue to fight. The UC-AFT faculty campaign, rooted in bargaining for student success and greater faculty equity, is a clear reflection that the promise of public higher education to help create an educated workforce must be fiercely safeguarded. Click here to sign our petition.

As our statewide President Mia McIver (UCLA Writing Programs Faculty) stated, “The Supreme Court’s misguided and poorly-reasoned decision restricts our rights as scholar-workers and impedes our freedom to advocate for our students and colleagues. But we won’t let this attack on public servants stop us from defending the research, education, and service mission of the University of California, one of our greatest public resources.”

We will continue to stand together as union members and build power so that we can make it clear to the UC that our members deserve secure jobs and are not workers in an academic gig economy. The Janus v. AFSCME ruling has refocused our energy, and our members are becoming increasingly engaged in union local governance. Our local executive board has new members from both our librarian and faculty units. 

Critical in our success at UCLA was a ten-day recruitment drive with support from the LA Fed and graduates of the Organizing Institute in February of 2018. Aside from an increase in membership we also had members, both librarians and lecturers, at UCLA recommit to standing together in their union.

In light of the Janus decision, we remain committed to growing our faculty membership numbers as we bargain for a contract that provides greater job security, livable salaries and benefits, and improvements in instructional support. 

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