UC Berkeley Faculty Association

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March 19, 2014
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The Berkeley Faculty Association supports the UAW’s campaign for better wages and working conditions for graduate students

As UCOP’s own figures show, our graduate students are underpaid in comparison to our peer institutions by as much as $5,000.  Given the high cost of living in the Bay Area, many struggle to live on their current ten-month stipend of  $17,655.  As a letter from 33 of Berkeley’s Department Chairs argued, the lack of an adequate stipend also undermines the competitiveness of even our top-ranked graduate programs.

Graduate student instructors are central to the UC mission to provide top-quality, research-driven, undergraduate education to Californians.  Ensuring that graduate instructor-led classes are kept at a manageable and consistent size ensures not only equitable treatment for graduate students, but a high quality undergraduate learning experience across the University of California.

Given the expiration of the previous contract last November, we urge UCOP to quickly resolve their outstanding differences with UAW and to respect the protected rights of union workers to take collective actions free of undue managerial interference.

The BFA recognizes that graduate students are the lifeblood of the University of California’s mission to deliver excellence in research and teaching. We support the UAW’s campaign for a new deal for our graduate students. What is good for graduate students is also good for faculty and for undergraduates.



March 16, 2014
by Admin 2
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Do you have issues with the new UC Health Insurance Provision?

We have been hearing that many  faculty and employees at campuses across the UC system are unhappy about the new rules, particularly those from campuses without a medical center where there are fewer options and higher out of pocket costs. If you have a story to tell, UC professors Michael Meranze and Chris Newfield who blog at Remaking the University have created a page where you can Share Your UC Care Story.

With more information about how changes impact faculty and staff, we can seek better mechanisms that would permit faculty to negotiate these elements of our compensation.



March 4, 2014
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The Degradation of Faculty Welfare and Compensation

We would like to bring to your attention an Op-Ed written by Colleen Lye and James Vernon, Co-Chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association, on behalf of its Board. The article appeared today in the Daily Cal, and details the systematic degradation of faculty pay and benefits. We are concerned about the fact that faculty not only pay more now for retirement and healthcare programs that offer less value, but also that the evolution of the benefit system has led to serious inequalities between faculty in how retirement, health and other benefits are administered.

We encourage you to follow the link below to read the full article.



February 12, 2014
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Ruin In Progress: How its Buildings Reflect the University’s Changing Mission

A talk by Gray Brechin, Project Scientist, Department of Geography (Berkeley)ruins

Round-Table with Margaretta Lovell, Professor in the History of Art Department (Berkeley), and Roberta Park, Professor Emerita, Department of Integrative Biology (Berkeley)

Friday, March 7, 5 pm, 315 Wheeler.

As costly new structures rise around the campus perimeter, neglect eats the historic buildings at its core. Do administrators regard the older structures as sites of opportunity for yet more revenue-enhancers? In 1898, Phoebe Hearst launched an international competition to make the University of California an incomparable” Acropolis of Learning II facing the Golden Gate. Her subsequent generosity built a preeminent public university available to all eligible Californians. After her death in 1919, William Randolph Hearst paid for a magnificent women’s gymnasium to launch a vast memorial to his mother. As Hearst Gym approaches irreparability and other extant structures of the two Hearst plans face a similar fate in the midst of a manic building boom, the Berkeley campus offers a textbook of changing priorities in a time of forgetting.

Audience participation is invited.

Co-sponsored by the Berkeley Faculty Association and the Department of English.


November 13, 2013
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UC Faculty in Support of Graduate Students

The Berkeley Faculty Association has developed a petition that will be delivered to Peter Chester, Director, UCOP Labor Relations and Janet Napolitano, President, University of California. The petition states “Faculty support UAW contract negotiations with the University of California for better graduate student wages and conditions. Faculty only petition: please sign with campus affiliation.”

Follow this link to sign the petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/uc-faculty-in-support

Petition Background

We, the undersigned faculty of the University of California, are writing to express our support for graduate student workers as represented by UAW 2865 in their current contract negotiations.

We concur with the letters sent to you by 33 Department Chairs at Berkeley and 21 Chairs at San Diego (on 16 September and 3 October) that ASE (Academic Student Employee) wages are woefully inadequate. According to UCOP’s own survey ASE stipends lag at least $2,697 behind comparator institutions. Your current offer of a 2% rise still leaves a wage-deficit in excess of $2,000 (and considerably more when compared to the programs of elite private institutions we compete with, not to mention the high costs of living around UC campuses which leave many living in debt and poverty).

Such an uncompetitive ASE salary has serious consequences.

Firstly, it damages the competitiveness of graduate programs at the University of California so that it becomes increasingly hard to recruit the students who will shape the research agendas of tomorrow. Without those students it becomes harder to retain faculty.

Secondly, it damages the excellence of undergraduate education at the University of California. As ASE graduate students are the lynchpin of many undergraduate classes, recruiting the best ensures that we maintain the quality of undergraduate education at the world’s best public university.

Thirdly, it undermines the diversity of the University if only those able to supplement inadequate wages or who can afford to take on post-collegiate debt enroll in our graduate programs. Graduate education, like undergraduate education, should be available to all based upon ability not wealth.

The UAW demand to improve graduate student wages and other conditions of employment—including better health and family benefits and the guarantee of a nondiscriminatory workplace environment—makes sense if we are to maintain our position as the world’s best public university. If we are unable to recruit and foster the best graduate students in the world we will be unable to deliver an outstanding undergraduate education to Californians or to develop the research of global significance that will shape the twenty first century.


September 24, 2013
by Admin 2
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Open Letter from BFA to Senate Chair Betty Deakin – “School first, sports second”

The Berkeley Faculty Association deplores the disruption of the University’s
academic mission by the occupation of Kroeber Plaza by Fox Sports TV on
September 13-14, 2013. The Fox Sports booths, television screens, and other
advertising paraphernalia were set up on a Friday, even as students and faculty
were trying to attend classes and access the library and art studios. Faculty were
not consulted about the event beforehand, and because the Events Office staff
in charge of the event did not arrange adequate security for the increased
traffic, departments in Kroeber Hall were forced to close the facility (which
houses the Anthropology Library and Art Practice workshops) on Saturday.
Academics were not merely interrupted but trumped by Cal Athletics and its
corporate partners.

This past weekend’s event comes in the wake of several years of
deepening faculty concern about the place of athletics at UC Berkeley. First, the
construction of a prohibitively expensive ($321 million), debt-financed stadium,
and a pattern of misinformation from Intercollegiate Athletics (IA) about
revenues from (tax-deductible) seat sales. Then news of the additional $124
million debt incurred to build the Simpson Student-Athlete High Performance
Center, a facility available to less than 1% of the student body. Now the plan to
construct a new Aquatics Center, again not for the general use of the campus
community, but for the exclusive use of Intercollegiate Athletics. These issues
merely add to ongoing concern about the huge sums from the Chancellor’s
Discretionary Fund that have been used to cover yearly operating deficits of
Intercollegiate Athletics (nearly $100 million in the past decade) and recent
news (2012) that UC Berkeley still ranks last in the Pac-12 Conference in
graduation success rates of students playing men’s basketball (“up” from 20%
in 2009 to the current 33%), and next-to-last in football.

We are not anti-athletics. We understand that intercollegiate competition
contributes to institutional pride and plays an important role in maintaining the
loyalty of students and alumni. We believe in the educational place of an
athletics program that fosters student fitness, physical well-being, and
camaraderie. But despite scandal after scandal under different chancellors, the
proper management of Intercollegiate Athletics has eluded the best efforts of
campus administration. The continuing conflicts between Intercollegiate
Athletics and the primary mission of the University—excellence in education,
research, and public service—makes us wonder whether the time has come to
separate Cal Athletics—financially, administratively and geographically—from
UC Berkeley’s academic endeavors and locales.

UC Berkeley Faculty Association
UC Berkeley chapter of the Council of UC Faculty Associations
(888) 826-3623 www.ucbfa.org