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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UC announces no COVID-19 layoffs through end of fiscal year, but UC-AFT says this does not apply to academic appointees

UC student workers, career staff, clinical researchers could see reduction in hours due to COVID-19

On April 2, UC President Janet Napolitano released a letter to the UC community announcing that there will be no COVID-19-related layoffs between now and the end of the fiscal year, on June 30, 2020. As of today, the UC is the third-largest employer in the state, employing approximately 227,000 people.

“Providing pay and health and welfare benefits during this period will allow employees to more effectively care for themselves and their families as we all support California and the nation by staying home and doing our part to reduce the spread of this virus,” Napolitano wrote. 

According to the University Council-American Federation of Teachers at UCLA, however, “the commitment to no layoffs through June 30th does not apply to academic appointees, meaning that contingent teaching faculty and librarians are not protected by the policy.”

UC-AFT, the union that represents UC librarians and non-Senate faculty, said via Twitter that it is currently looking to change that: “The contingent faculty who are lifting heaven and earth to keep teaching our students now must be reappointed after the crisis is over.”

Over 6,000 UC lecturers represented by UC-AFT are without a contract after the previous one ended on Jan. 31. Union officials said via Twitter that job security is more important than ever now that lecturers are without a contract. UC-AFT members have made close to 200 calls to UC officials demanding job security.

“Join us in this digital action and call a UC administrator today,” wrote UC-AFT Vice President for Organizing Daniel Schoorl via Twitter. “This is an open action to contact admin about teaching faculty job security – no layoffs during #COVID19.”

Meanwhile, employees in UC administrative offices, campuses and clinical settings have faced significant disruptions to their work due to the virus. In her letter, Napolitano pledged that the UC would support these workers “as long as we are able.” The letter added that the UC “looked forward to working with unions to redeploy workers to areas of need and keep as many people working as possible.”

The number of career staff, student workers and clinical researchers hired during the summer typically fluctuates, and Napolitano’s announcement acknowledged that these employees may be facing a reduction in their hours due to the current conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to this uncertainty, the UC will conduct discussions with different employment groups to determine how the university system can continue to support its workers after June 30, ideally extending job protections after this date. Additionally, human resources departments at the different campuses are addressing this issue with their employees.

The letter — signed by all 10 UC chancellors, including UC Davis Chancellor Gary May — acknowledged that there remained a great deal of ambiguity surrounding the progress of the pandemic. As Napolitano’s note indicated, it is difficult to determine how the UC will continue to adapt to the changing conditions wrought by the virus.

Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — campus@theaggie.org

Managing Editor Hannah Holzer also contributed to this report.


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