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Lecturers will not strike this month

By Shane Nelson

Jan. 5, 2003 9:00 p.m.

To the relief of the university, lecturers and clerical workers
changed their minds and elected to come to work every day this

The lecturers’ union threatened a systemwide January
strike numerous times last quarter, but both unions formally
notified the UC last month they have no plans to strike in

The University Council-American Federation of Teachers said it
needs more time to coordinate efforts with the other two unions
currently negotiating with the university, the Coalition of
University Employees and the University Professional and Technical

In addition to CUE and UPTE, the lecturers’ union believes
three other unions may consider joining in a systemwide strike,
which would take a lot of coordination, said UC-AFT President Kevin

Since the Public Employment Relations Board didn’t grant
the UC’s request for impasse with CUE, the UC informed CUE
last month it would be willing to enter informal mediation,
facilitated by the chair of the state mediation and conciliation
service, said UC Press Aide Robert Schwartz.

If CUE agrees to informal mediation, it must also agree not to
strike unless an impasse is reached, he added.

Claudia Horning, CUE president, said the union would agree to
informal mediation in a “step to get both sides closer

Whether CUE goes to impasse with the UC affects when the
systemwide strike will occur, said Robert Hennig, a member of the
UC-AFT bargaining team. He estimated the earliest date of the
strike to be sometime in March at the end of the quarter.

All three unions are negotiating new labor contracts with the
UC. March marks the third year for UC-AFT. Both university and
union officials say negotiations have extended such a long time
because the other side is bargaining in bad faith with no intention
of compromising on contentious issues, namely wages and job

Over the past year all three unions have planned and
participated in various strikes, rallies, protests and teach-ins to
recruit members, draw attention to themselves, and to put pressure
on the UC.

Some have been small and resulted in little university notice.
UPTE staged the most recent demonstration at UCLA, a 50-person
noon-time rally with picket signs, speeches and drums just outside
Ackerman Union, while inside the union’s bargaining team met
with the UC.

But other actions were disruptive, resulting in a formal
comeback. The UC responded to union strikes at six campuses earlier
this year by filing two formal complaints with the PERB arguing the
parties were both still negotiating.

“It is clear to the university that intermittent strikes
or threats of strikes are serious evidence of bad faith
bargaining,” Schwartz said.

CUE officials maintain its strikes were justified because they
were based on unfair labor practice charges against the UC for the
same allegations.

Though unions say they strike to put pressure on the UC at the
bargaining table, both sides agree that while the various events
succeed in drawing media attention and awareness to the
unions’ concerns, they fail to rouse the university during

“Rallies, strikes or other such demonstrations do not
influence the university’s positions. The UC formulates its
offers based on what it believes to be the best and fairest offer
given available resources,” Schwartz said.

Union leaders said they understand money issues are off the
table given the state’s financial crisis. What they want is
better employee treatment, Roddy said.

The planned January strikes were going to be another protest
event, Hennig said. But since past strikes haven’t affected
the UC’s offer at the table, UC-AFT changed its focus this
quarter to organizing a coalition of multiple unions for a more
substantial strike it hopes the university will notice, he

“We are done playing games. We are not planning public
relations things anymore,” said Robert Hennig, a UC-AFT
bargaining team member. “The only thing where we can do
anything is by trying to hurt them.”

UC-AFT wants every single campus out on strike, and is seriously
considering open-ended strikes if necessary, Hennig said. The
UC-AFT council is meeting in two weeks to work out the details.

Hennig said the lecturers’ unions would prefer not to
strike, but they feel like it is their last option. CUE, UC-AFT and
UPTE union leaders say little progress was made at the last
bargaining sessions in December. They said it was difficult to
bargain with the UC because they send representatives to the table
who have no power to make decisions.

But the UC assures all of its negotiators are experienced
professionals with full authority to represent the UC at the table,
Schwartz said.

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Shane Nelson
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