Lecturers Union Marches to Begin Contract Negotiations

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Protesters begin to move from Quarry Plaza to McHenry Library. Photo by Camille Carrillo.
Protesters begin to move from Quarry Plaza to McHenry Library. Photo by Camille Carrillo.

Around 60 non-senate faculty and students, and people in black robes and masks, accompanied a representation of St. Precaria on a march through campus chanting and singing songs such as “Swing Low, Precariat” and “Carry That Debt.”

“Saint Precaria’s Pilgrimage: National Adjunct Day of Action” aimed to raise awareness about rising administrative budgets and tuition and the precarious working conditions at the UCs. The event is the beginning of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) contract campaign. UC-AFT is the union of over 3,000 non-senate faculty and librarians of the UC. According to UC-AFT, in any given term, about 3,000 lecturers teach throughout the UC.

“[St. Precaria’s Pilgrimage] coincides with the opening of our entire contract in bargaining in 15 years,” said Roxi Power, an organizer of the event and lecturer at UC Santa Cruz. “The last time it resulted in a UC-wide strike in 2003. There is a lot at stake and we need to mobilize support for lecturers, students and UC faculty at large because our teaching conditions are your learning conditions.”

On June 1, the lecturer contract terminates and negotiations will begin with the university. Better pay and shorter probation periods are just some of the benefits UCSC lecturer Chris Gray hopes to see for non-senate faculty.

“We are trying to keep the support we have for our work,” Gray said. “There is a good amount of funds for our research but the university has us on probation for six years before we can have a regular job and many of our members don’t even have enough work to get benefits. Our pay is not really adequate for the professional quality we bring to the education system. It’s a really important struggle for us.”

Lecturers, or non-senate faculty, differ from professors, who are faculty within the Academic Senate. Professors make decisions involving governance and have more job security than lecturers. The characters and icons of the march were created to inspire change for the precariat representing the “proletariats of academic labor known as lecturers or non-senate faculty.”

“The masks are the spirits of the precariat being drawn by St. Precaria to overturn the powers that be,” said UCSC lecturer Josh Brahinsky. “You need the power of the people who have the visions of how to change things.”

Though the march concluded at Science Hill after stops at Quarry Plaza, McHenry Library and Kerr Hall, Power, a UCSC lecturer, said the pilgrimage is far from over.

“We came up with the pilgrimage because last time we started bargaining to this extent of our contract, it was a long pilgrimage, it took us three and a half years and ended in a large strike,” Power said. “We would like the endpoint of this pilgrimage to be the elimination of a lot of the precarity of our lecturers.”