Twitter icon
Facebook icon
RSS icon
YouTube icon


History of UC-AFT

University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) is the union of 6,500 Non-Senate Faculty and 350 Librarians who are employed at the ten campuses of the University of California.  We join together to work for and to defend better salaries and benefits, greater security of employment, professional respect and support, workplace rights, academic freedom, legislative solutions to educational policy issues, and full access to quality public higher education for our students.

Our union has been helping its members fight for better treatment by UC for over a quarter of a century.  The University Council-AFT was formally organized on June 19, 1971 when seven AFT locals at the University of California voted to establish themselves as a council. Following the passage in 1978 of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relation Act (HEERA), which allowed for collective bargaining in the UC system, representation elections were held for two groups of employess--librarians and non-Senate faculty (lecturers). In June 1983, librarians (Unit 17) voted to be represented by UC-AFT and began bargaining that December.  The lecturers (Unit 18) followed suit the next year.

UC-AFT went on to negotiate collective bargaining contracts for both units.  The original Unit 18 contract the union signed in 1986 made a major improvement for Non-Senate Faculty by replacing the former "8-years-and-out rule" with a system of renewable 3-year appointments (after a 6-year review process) that has allowed hundreds of excellent Lecturers and other Non-Senate Faculty to have life-long teaching careers at UC, to the great benefit of tens of thousands of students.  It also provided for a grievance process and layoff and termination protections, as well as strengthening benefits and other critical rights.  The Unit 18 MOU also established a Professional Development Fund dedicated solely to Lecturers.

In July 2003, UC-AFT Lecturers signed a new contract with UC after a three-year struggle, including job actions on six of the campuses in 2002, for better job security, salaries and benefits, professional development, and arbitration of grievances.  This included conversion of post-6 3-year contracts into Continuing Appointments.  Further gains were achieved in 2005 and 2007 in workload, salary, job security, benefits, and other issues raised by our membership.  UC-AFT is now working to enforce these new contract provisions for both units, and to provide a broad range of services and benefits to our members.

University Council is made up of nine Locals, one from each campus, with UC San Francisco members and UC HAstings librarians belonging to the Berkeley Local.  Since 2000, thanks to increased funding made possible by the implementation of a "fair share" payroll deduction for non-members, UC-AFT now has staff on each of the campuses to help with grievances and other needs of the membership. 

In this struggle UC-AFT has been working in coalition with other UC Unions that together now represent more than 60,000 UC employees system-wide, including 10,000 Graduate Student Instructors (UAW); 18,000 Clericals (Teamsters); 12,000 Technical, Health & Staff Research Assistants (UPTE/CWA); and 13,000 Service & Hospital Technicians (AFSCME) as well as nurses, fire fighters and other employees.

University Council is affiliated with the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and the national American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as well as the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and its local Central Labor Councils.  Nationally, AFT has more than one million members and has grown by more than 300,000 members in the last decade.  While these affiliations may seem distant from our campuses, each represents a crucial level of support for the defense of our rights.  All UC-AFT locals across California can call upon affiliates for political or legislative action, for research during negotiations, to add their members' voices to ours in demonstrations, for media and legal back-up and for training of local union leaders and staff.  For more UC-AFT history, visit this page on the California Federation of Teachers website.