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Monday, July 26, 2021

UC librarian union ratifies contract with UC system

Following months of negotiations, the American Federation of Teachers union, representing University of California librarians, and the University of California system agreed to extend the labor contract currently in place.

The union represents approximately 400 librarians from all of the UC campuses, including 50 librarians from UC Davis. Department heads fall outside of the union, but the librarians – not to be confused with library staff – associated with the American Federation of Teachers include those at reference desks or giving demonstrations to classes.

The ratifications seen in the extended contract exclude most economic variables. The ratified contract, very similar to its prior self, includes changes such as a 1 percent increase in professional development money for librarians to use to further their education.

Axel Borg acts as president of the University Council’s American Federation of Teachers local Davis chapter, vice president of UC-AFT for legislations and is a wine and food bibliographer at UC Davis. The union bargained specifically for an increase in salary during the contract proceedings. However, no pay raise was granted, he said.

“We felt we should be paid at least the same as the CSU librarians were paid,” Borg said. “That would have been more than a 20 percent increase.”

Borg pointed to the inverse relation between pay and university standing. In California, community college librarians receive higher wages than both CSU and UC librarians. CSU librarians rank directly below those at community colleges, with UC librarians taking up the rear.

Workload played a major role in why the union requested an increase in pay. At the outset of his career in the UC system 22 years ago, Borg said his department of biological and agricultural science employed seven librarians.

“Now we have four librarians, and the campus has doubled in size,” Borg said.

UC Davis bibliographer Mike Winter has evidence for this assertion. His list of duties and areas of expertise have gotten so large, they no longer fit on his business card. The librarian is in charge of French language and literature, German language and literature, comparative literature, Western European studies, philosophy, mythology and theater, dance and performance studies.

UC Davis acting Co-University Librarian for the Library Administration, Helen Henry, broke down where the UC Davis library’s funds originate.

“The university budget process combines educational fees not used for financial aid with general funds to support core instruction and other related functions such as the library,” Henry said.

She specified, noting the majority, 92 percent of the library’s funds originate from the state. Current budget cuts play a major role in money allotted to the library. However, according to “The UC Davis Library is in Trouble” fact sheet created by UC Davis librarians, while most other UC libraries have increased their adjusted budgets 40 to 65 percent since 1993, the UC Davis library has seen virtually no change. The fact sheet also stated that UC Davis has fewer librarians than any other UC campus.

“We really feel that there needs to be transparency and accountability,” Borg said. “And at Davis, in particular, we are very disturbed that the university has chosen not to invest in the library.”

JaRue Manning, UC Davis microbiology professor emeritus and biology chair, pointed to the Investment Index, which accounts for the money invested in each UC library annually. In 1990 both UC Davis and UC San Diego libraries received roughly $16 million in funds. By 2008 the UC Davis library’s investment rose to $20.1 million, while UC San Diego’s exceeded $30.4 million. This $10 million difference of two budgets that were once the same has taken a hard toll on UC Davis librarians, Manning said.

“In my opinion it has undercut [the librarians] morale and vision of the role and future of the library here at Davis,” Manning said.

KELLEY REES can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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