Negotiations Commence Over Librarian Salaries

    The American Federation of Teachers, on behalf of University of California librarians, began talks Nov. 5 over librarian salaries and the availability of professional development funds. Negotiators aim to raise librarian salaries to a level comparable to those at the California State University and California community college systems.

    The negotiations will also address economic concerns that have risen over the past several years, including childcare support and tuition waivers for librarians. The talks follow negotiations held last spring between UC-AFT negotiators and university administrators regarding all noneconomic concerns raised by UC librarians and UC-AFT.

    UC-AFT field representative Maria Tillman said negotiations will also focus on obtaining funding for professional development efforts that aim to keep UC librarians and their staffs up to date on contemporary information technology geared toward academic research.

    “University-level research requires far more than Google and Wikipedia, and this university’s information search and retrieval systems are growing increasingly sophisticated,” Tillman said. “Librarians, especially at UC, must have the resources to master more skills than ever to aid students, faculty and other researchers in navigating these systems.”

    According to pamphlets released by UC-AFT, UC librarians earn an annual average of $10,000 less than their colleagues at both the CSU and community college systems through beginning, intermediate and senior positions.

    “Salaries have a major impact on the kind of librarians we can recruit and retain,” said Fred Lonidier, president of UC-AFT Local 2034, the union for non-Academic Senate faculty and librarians at UCSD. “If we continue to rely on … less experienced professionals we are going to inevitably face reduced research and information services.”

    Additionally, UC-AFT has expressed alarm over the UC campuses losing several places in the annual Association of Research rankings. Negotiators attribute this drop to unsatisfactory recruitment and retention rates for UC librarians.

    According to UC-AFT, these retention problems are a result of uncompetitive salary rates when compared to those offered by private sector libraries, California public libraries, CSU campuses and community college libraries.

    “We are having trouble filing positions because librarians know [the UC system] is no longer paying as well as [the CSU system] or many community colleges,” Tillman said. “If the UC continues to provide lower salaries than those offered at competing institutions, I think we will see an eventual demise in the educational quality and research capabilities of the university.”

    UC-AFT negotiators and university administrators have not yet established any agreements over salary renegotiations. The two groups plan to meet again Nov. 19 to continue negotiations and address the concerns expressed by UC-AFT.

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