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School for Scandal: Lecturers say UC gives a wrong impression that they are 'temporary' staff.



April 21 marks UCSC's annual Banana Slug Fair, a self-puffing event that draws thousands of alums, students and parents. This year, visitors will no doubt get to hear how UC spends their tax money--a spending policy that UC lecturers claim is wrong, insulting and irresponsible to teachers who are not members of the faculty senate or tenured.

Last Friday, UCSC lecturers kicked off the first in a string of systemwide demonstrations to protest lack of progress in their efforts to bargain with UC. (The University Council-American Federation of Teachers, part of the California Federation of Teachers union, has been in negotiations with the university for more than a year over a new contract and has been without a contract for 10 months.)

About 250 nonsenate faculty, lecturers, students and supporters marched from Stevenson College to the chancellor's office headed by a student on a gurney hooked up to an IV. Asked why he was thus prostrated, Ben Wilkins-Malloy, a Cowell student, said he was a "symbol that UC's attitudes to nonsenate faculty are threatening the educational health of the system, as represented by students whose teachers keep changing or are overworked, underpaid and not respected."

Outside the chancellor's office, the crowd--led by UCSC lecturer and former Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin on guitar and art lecturer Paul Rangell on violin--sang union songs and waved banners declaring such gems as "First class university's [sic] don't treat faculty like second-class citizens."

And there were, of course, speeches. Wrong, insulting and irresponsible is how Jeremy Elkins, a full-time lecturer in the Legal Studies program described the attitude of the UC administration. Elkins, president of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which represents 2,500 of UC's 5,000-plus nonsenate teaching staff, said that representatives of the UC administration appear before the California State Senate Budget Committee each year asking for more money to meet increasing enrollments. These funding requests are based, Elkins said, "on the

assumption that new enrollment demand will be met by hiring faculty ... at a salary of $53,400 a year and teaching generally a maximum workload of four courses."

Instead, over 50 percent of undergraduate teaching is done by nonsenate faculty, who, Elkins claimed, start as low as $28,500 a year and teach typically between two and three times the load of senate faculty. Nonsenate faculty are not hired to do research and not given time for professional development, and almost no job security, until they reach the six-year mark, at which point they must still submit to a thorough review every three years to be hired back with a merit-based raise.

Darren Lee, assistant director of labor relations for UC's Office of the President, denies charges of foot dragging. "Lecturers are only able to meet on Fridays, which we respect because they are committed to their teaching responsibilities, but it slows the process down," Lee told Nüz. Negotiations, he said, were further complicated by "new union management."

Rebecca Rhine, who became executive director of UC-AFT in fall 2000, calls this latter argument bogus. "There was a change in style and approach, but no change in philosophy. The members of the committee who set the agenda are the same."

UC-AFT is proposing a decent salary schedule, some job protection, a manageable teaching load and grants for professional development.

Has UC been acting, er, sluggish at the bargaining table? "It's hard to quantify if it's a question of inability or unwillingness. UC has an exceedingly convoluted decision-making structure. It's not clear who rules," Rhine replied.

Meanwhile, Lee told Nüz that allegations of informal or formal policies of releasing lecturers at the four- or five-year mark and replacing them with newer, cheaper hires have not been proven.

"Lecturers keep alleging that and we keep checking. To date we haven't found any supporting evidence," said Lee. Asked if the Office of the President had asked departments to show proof of their hiring records, Lee responded, "Do you know how many departments there are? Hundreds. It would be impossible."

Meanwhile, Rhine believes that "if you're going to sign a collective bargaining agreement, presumably you're going to institute parameters to monitor such procedures. It's not acceptable not to have any."

Says Rotkin, who has worked at UCSC since 1974 and makes $60,000 (about half what a founding tenured father takes home), "We've put up with this contract for 15 years, and we're not getting serious counterproposals. If we don't in the next month, we'll declare an impasse. Meanwhile, UC will have continue to impose the old contract."

Will lecturers strike if they don't get what they want?

"Personally, I'd be willing to walk out," Rotkin said, "but lecturers are like nurses--it's difficult to get them to take on-the-job actions."

Meanwhile, Nüz has learned that Banana Slug Day excitement will also include an unfair labor practice strike by technical employees at UCSC on April 20 and 21.

BP's Greenwash

Until recently, BP Amoco used the motto "Beyond Petroleum" to draw attention to its investment in solar energy. BP has since dropped this phrase, but much of its publicity still focuses on creating a green image--the new sunburst logo, representing solar energy, dominates BP's latest ads.

Bill Le Bon of Greenpeace says BP has spent as much to promote itself as a "green" company as it has invested in solar energy itself. The vast majority of the multinational's investments still go to oil exploration and development. "This amounts to a greenwashing campaign," Le Bon claims.

Earlier this year, concerned shareholders drafted a resolution asking BP to live up to its new image and develop a plan for more significant clean energy sources. "The resolution asks them to put their money where their mouth is," says Le Bon, who coordinates a campaign to encourage the University of California, BP's 13th largest investor, to vote yes.

Although 100 shareholders support the resolution, which UCSC's Student Union Association unanimously voted to endorse March 7, UC Interim Treasurer Dewitt Bowman says the university can't comment until BP decides to put the resolution on the shareholders' ballot. Meanwhile, BP maintains it's already doing enough. Youssef Ibrahim, BP's vice president for U.S. media, argues that BP is the only oil company committed to reducing environmental impact.

But Le Bon believes BP can, and should, do more. "They're taking baby steps in the right direction--[and] large steps in the wrong direction," he says. Shareholders will vote on the resolution at BP's next general meeting, April 19, and locals can express their views on the BP Renewable Energy Resolution by contacting the UC Regents.

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From the April 18-25, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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