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UC-AFT Holds Rally at UCI for UC Teaching Faculty Job Security and Fair Compensation

by: Tatum Larsen

photos by Esmeralda Bobadilla

The University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) held a rally outside of Aldrich Hall following the expiration of their union contract which affects more than 6,500 UC faculty members on Feb. 3.

UCI is a part of the wide-sweeping movement by the UC-AFT to seek out fair compensation, workloads and job security for members from the UC administration. UC-AFT members are comprised of lecturers, program coordinators, supervisors of teacher education and librarians. 

According to a statement on documents handed out by UC-AFT members,“[they] have identified our core demands, proposed creative and flexible solutions to the most urgent problems and given UC the opportunity to respond with proposals that will create more full-time jobs, improve job security, establish fair, manageable and consistent workload standards, and provide livable compensation for UC communities.”. 

UC negotiators have not responded to any of the UC-AFT’s demands. 

Currently, lecturers have to reapply for their jobs every year with no guarantee of continued employment. 

The UC-AFT handout read:

“UC admin wants to lay us off with only 14 days notice at any time before or after our classes begin. We’re fighting for stronger layoff protections because they protect students from having their essential courses canceled.” 

“It’s stressful, it’s scary, we have families,” UCI lecturer of Academic English Jacob Lugwig said. 

The rally’s line-up of speakers, introduced by campus UC-AFT President Keith Danner, included UCI lecturers, UC-AFT members, students and fellow members of UC unions. The first speaker was Nicholas Hutchings, a second year resident in internal medicine at the UCI and member of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR). The CIR is the medical school’s union that’s currently in the midst of contracting with UCI. 

“[CIR] is pushing for improved recognition for the impact we have on the hospital and the university because just like the faculty here the institution is built on the backs of those who are on the floor doing the work,” Hutchings said. “Our interests and our vision for the future…for the students of the UC and the patients of Orange County are the same.”

In addition, the improvement of working conditions for lecturers will directly affect the quality of education and support employees can provide for their students. 

“A lot of students are not aware of what a lecturer is. They think everyone who’s teaching them is a professor. They don’t know that there’s a 45% turnover rate for lecturers, that we have to reapply for our jobs every year for the first six years and that they’re being taught by someone who’s worrying whether they can pay next month’s rent,” Kat Lewin, UCI bargaining team representative and Course Director of Introduction of Writing and Rhetoric, said.

President and Vice-President of College Democrats at UCI Jeanie Le and Reema Saad were two of the students who attended the rally in solidarity with the lecturers.

“With the expiration of the union’s contract, we must fight harder than ever before to support our faculty’s effort to meet their core demands. Job security, a fair workload and livable compensation are three pillars of this movement that simply cannot be comprised. Lecturers go above and beyond to ensure that students are cared for. They are our teachers, our advocates and, often times, our greatest friends,” Saad said.  

“I think that we are people who believe that other people deserve fair working wages. Students cannot perform at high standards unless faculty are assured job security and proper compensation,” Le said. 

“When students are not aware of what a lecturer is, they are unable to question or protest against the way their faculty is being treated by the institution. Having a rally is a good way to increase the spread of information and to create a space of solidarity between unions, students and faculty,” Lewin said.