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Academic Senate, union leaders meet on faculty working conditions

Members of the UCLA Academic Senate and unions met Wednesday to discuss working conditions within the University of California governance system. (Lisa O’Brien/Daily Bruin)

By Daniel Ahn

May 7, 2015 2:18 a.m.

Members of the UCLA Academic Senate and unions representing teachers and librarians met Wednesday to discuss working conditions for faculty and cooperation in the University of California governance system, amid what some call the increasing privatization of the University.

The Faculty Association at UCLA hosted the meeting Wednesday at the UCLA Faculty Center, with about 20 tenured and nontenured faculty, lecturers and students in attendance.

Toby Higbie, chair of the UCLA Faculty Association and a history professor, said he hopes the meeting encourages more conversations about the future of public higher education among faculty and students.

Higbie said he thinks the Faculty Association and the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which represents lecturers and librarians, have similar goals in improving compensation and working conditions for all faculty.

Bob Samuels, president of the UC-AFT and a lecturer for UCLA Writing Programs, said he thinks improving conditions for non-tenured faculty is crucial for the University’s undergraduate education.

“The University should view lecturers as central to the core mission (of education),” Samuels said.

Mia McIver, a lecturer for the Writing Programs, said she shares similar views with Samuels.

McIver said she thinks lecturers should be more involved in University governance.

The system of shared governance gives University faculty, through the Academic Senate, a voice in the operation of the University.

“Lecturers are central to undergraduate education, but don’t have a role to play in decisions for undergraduate educational policy,” McIver said.

Patricia Morton, president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, said she is trying to form a coalition of lecturers and tenured faculty to improve lecturers’ role in governance.

Other members of the UC-AFT said at the meeting they think quick and simple provisions can improve situations for nontenured faculty.

Lauri Mattenson, a lecturer for the Writing Programs, said she thinks small disadvantages for lecturers, such as distinguished professorship awards that pay tenured faculty more and not getting paid for leading Fiat Lux seminars, should be corrected.

The UC has said it will not take steps to preclude pre-six-year lecturers’ access to continuing appointments. The University increased salaries for lecturers and set a higher pay scale for lecturers on a continuing contract for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Faculty members at the meeting also expressed concerns about decreased state funding and the resulting financial burden on students.

Higbie said he thinks students and faculty should take a more active role in addressing increasing financial problems at the UC.

“They (students) must know they have allies, that professors understand the problem and they want to change it,” he said.

Higbie said he plans to hold a series of similar meetings next year and hopes more faculty and students participate.

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