UC librarians are currently engaged in intense negotiations with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) over matters concerning pay increases, affordable housing, and development funds that are all said to impact UC librarians’ livelihoods and ability to perform their jobs.
One of the main issues at the center of the negotiations is pay increases for UC librarians. An article released by UC-AFT, the union which represents Unit 17 librarians and Unit 18 non-Senate faculty working throughout the UC system, notes that the UC has rewarded university librarians and other library administrators with an average pay increase of 32 percent over the last five years. Meanwhile, the last contract for rank-and-file librarians only guaranteed an eight percent pay increase.
According to the report, on the same day the UCOP approved an 8.9 percent pay increase for University Librarian M. Elizabeth Cowell, it only offered Unit 17 librarians “meager pay raises” spread over four years that only increase at the rate of three percent for the first year and then two percent for subsequent years. UC-AFT states that these pay increases “won’t keep up with inflation and will exacerbate the existing pay gap with CSUs and community colleges.”
“Rank and file, the most normal librarians, are dramatically underpaid. They are paid less than librarians at Cal states or community colleges,” Greg Hillis, a continuing lecturer in the department of religious studies at UCSB and a member of the UC-AFT Local 2141 Executive Board, told The Bottom Line. “They would like to have parity with other state universities like the Cal state system.”
In 2017, the minimum monthly salary for an assistant librarian who has worked one year at a CSU is $4,547, while it is only $4036 at a UC. In addition, the minimum monthly salary for an associate librarian is $6,249, in comparison with $4,492 at a UC.
In a statement to The Bottom Line, Danielle Smith, Media Communications Specialist for UCOP, said, “As negotiations with UC-AFT proceed, the University of California has presented a number of proposals that are very favorable to UC librarians, including enhanced wage structures.”
Smith also added that the “UC’s goal is to reach a long-term agreement that our dedicated librarians deserve, including competitive pay.”
Another point of contention in the negotiations concerns UC librarians’ access to affordable housing.
“Many librarians have special living circumstances and long commutes so they could live in communities with lower rents. This is particularly true at Santa Barbara, but this is also true across the UC system,” Hillis said.
The UC-AFT article notes that Unit 17 librarians are not eligible for the UC campus housing assistance program, a program that assists faculty in the purchase of homes and provides rental units for faculty on some campuses. In order to be eligible for the program, a faculty member must be a senate member or hold a title in an equivalent rank.
Hillis said that if the program was offered to UC librarians, it would go a long way towards helping them obtain affordable housing and ensure that they continued to work at UC campuses. “We lose librarians frequently, not because they don’t like UCSB, but because they simply cannot afford to stay,” said Hillis.
The zero increase to professional development funds is another point that UC-ATF would like changed in the upcoming contracts, along with giving academic freedom to UC librarians. The professional development funds are used to finance UC librarians’ special projects and attendance at conferences and workshops where they can develop their professional skills.
“The conferences keep librarians up to date on the latest trends and practices in their field, it allows them to be better librarians and be able to merit increases in pay,” Hillis said.
In Smith’s statement to The Bottom Line, she noted one of the proposals it has presented to UC-ATF is “the establishment of a policy workgroup on the privileges and responsibilities of non-faculty academic personnel.”
Smith concluded by saying, “UC remains committed to working diligently and in good faith with UC-AFT to reach an agreement as soon as possible.”
The next bargaining session between UC-ATF and UCOP is scheduled for Nov. 2 at UCSD.