Signs at UCSC's Quarry Plaza during an October rally.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
UC Santa Cruz

UC lecturers will hold a two-day strike starting Wednesday

The union representing University of California lecturers, which includes 6,000 lecturers across the system, will be holding a two-day strike on nine campuses including UC Santa Cruz starting Wednesday. The lecturers say they’re striking against unfair labor practices.

University of California lecturers will be striking Wednesday and Thursday, stopping instruction for thousands of students across the statewide system, as they demand the university stop what they say are unfair labor practices.

The union, known as the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, represents about 350 lecturers at UC Santa Cruz, among 6,000 others at other UC campuses.

University officials say they have addressed the union’s concerns in contract proposals and their claims of unfair labor practices have not been supported by the findings of the California Public Employment Relations Board.

Union leaders argue that the university has broken rights established by the Higher Education Employee Relations Act, or HEERA, a law that outlines collective bargaining procedures and relations with the university.

“Rather than negotiate in good faith, [UC President Michael] Drake’s representatives issue unlawful take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums that deprive us of our basic rights. This is bad faith bargaining,” union President Mia McIver said in a statement. “It’s these kinds of unfair labor practices that demonstrate a lack of respect for teaching faculty and for the students who depend on us.”

She said lecturers are striking to protect their rights.

Meanwhile, union leaders continue to negotiate with the university for a new contract.

On Monday, according to Ryan King, a spokesman for the UC Office of the President, the university system presented a proposal that includes “increased compensation, additional benefits, clarifications about workload and pre-six appointments — all directly responsive to the union’s demands.”

He added that the university continued in meetings with lecturers Tuesday, as they prepare to strike Wednesday.

“The University of California is disappointed with UC-AFT’s decision to pursue a two-day 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,” he wrote in an email to Lookout.

The sides have been negotiating for more than two years and the lecturers’ contract expired two years ago. They went into mediation in June after reaching an impasse.

The union says it has filed seven complaints with the California Public Employment Relations Board during the last 20 months. Their complaints include the refusal to bargain over the paid leave policy, the “refusal to bargain over a unilateral attempt to exclude some lecturers from our bargaining unit at UCSC” and the “refusal to bargain over settlement terms after improperly withholding employer retirement contributions,” among others.

At UCSC, pickets will start at 10 a.m. at the base of campus at the intersection of High and Bay streets and at the west entrance.

Nearing an impasse with the University of California system over wages and job security, non-tenured lecturers could go...