Thousands of non-tenure-track lecturers across nine University of California campuses threatened to strike for two days this week, but the potential crisis was averted by a last-minute contract deal reached Wednesday. The lecturers’ union, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, called the agreement “historic,” saying in a statement that the contract “revolutionizes the first six years of a lecturer’s career at the UC,” with paths to continuing appointments and promotion instead of the current contract’s “complete precarity” for a lecturer’s first five years. The contract promises a $1,500 signing bonus, annual salary adjustments through 2025 for a total pay increase of 30 percent, timely and more specific appointment letters, and continuing credit for summer session teaching. Also promised is paid medical leave for those teaching on 66 percent appointments instead of the current 100 percent, and four weeks paid family leave for all teaching faculty.
Ninety-six percent of voting lecturers authorized a strike in June, after the union accused the university of failing to bargain in good faith. The union has said lecturers are undervalued by the system, contributing to significant annual turnover and low morale. Hundreds of tenured and tenured-track faculty members had promised to cancel classes in the event of a strike, in solidarity with their non-tenure-track colleagues. Dr. Michael V. Drake, university system president, said during a Board of Regents meeting Wednesday that the proposed contract “honors the vital role our lecturers play in supporting UC’s educational mission and delivering high-quality instruction and education. It also means more job security and other important benefits for our valued lecturers.”