Berkeley Faculty Union, Local 1474


Chartered 1963

Discussions leading to the formation of the University Federation of Teachers (UFT) were started in the spring of 1963 under the leadership of Joe Fountenrose. An organizing meeting was scheduled for October 21, 1963, and all members of professional status including lecturers, associates, supervisors and librarians were invited to attend. At that time Dr. Fountenrose was elected President and among the issues discussed were better medical insurance and housing plans for members of the faculty. The local was at this time operating under the name “Berkeley University Teachers Union” and had already obtained a charter (No. 1474) from the AFT.

In September of 1964 the local issued a statement of purpose which outlined a plan to promote the welfare and occupational interest of the faculty and staff. It was agreed that the union should stimulate a broad, continuing dialogue among Faculty members and with the Administration on the primary issues and policies accompanying the transformation of the University. Concern was expressed for preservation of conditions most encouraging and most nourishing for the inquisitive mind. Among the core issues discussed were: Improved faculty retirement system, a medical service administered by the University, and the establishment of a grievance procedure.

Above all the primary interest of the members has been the preservation and improvement of the Berkeley campus as an intellectual community. The quality of an intellectual community depends not only on the maintenance of faculty academic standards, but on such things as the climate of academic freedom on the campus, the extent of political freedom enjoyed by both students and faculty, the caliber of instruction at both undergraduate and graduate levels, the stimulation of original research, and, perhaps most important, faculty initiative in university affairs.

Non-Senate faculty (Lecturers, Supervisors of Teachers Education, Coordinators, etc.) rarely participated in AFT Local 1474 activities before 1980. But when the Higher Education Employer Employee Relations Act was finally voted into law by the state legislature in 1978, the Council immediately changed focus from lobbying to fighting in front of the Public Employment Relations Board to carve out a winnable statewide 2400-member collective bargaining unit. (The University fought the bargaining law and they fought to create un-winnable bargaining units.) The Council hired an organizer from the ranks of lecturers at Cal to launch an organizing campaign.

Non-Senate faculty members are the braceros of the academic community. 52% of the unit is women or minority, in contrast to the traditional white male Senate faculty. These young Ph.D.’s were as qualified as their older Senate colleagues had been at the same stage in their careers. But these young faculty were arbitrarily turned out or reduced to part-time by revolving-door policies. They had no rights or protections. They had no voice in the university community and no power to bargain, as individuals, better working conditions. More than 25% of the total faculty were barred from membership in the Senate.

A meeting of the non-Senate faculty was called. About 50 attended and established NASFOG, the Non-Academic Senate Faculty Organizing Group. This group provided the leadership for the state collective bargaining campaign. These activists strategized and blocked the University from increasing their course load. They got a taste of what could be won by working collectively. They took UC to court before the Public Employment Relations Board and won back pay for hundreds of non-Senate faculty across the system and rescission of the rotating-door rules in the majority of departments at Cal. They delivered more than half of the statewide vote to defeat “no agent” 2to 1 and elect the AFT exclusive bargaining representative for non-Senate faculty.

From this leadership group, Gerry Cavanaugh, Kathy Moran, and Nancy Elnor, are still teaching at Cal; they have been awarded 3-year contracts, a major concession won in bargaining the first contract ever between UC academics and the university. They continue to lead the local. Others who have contributed essential energies over the years include Harry Rubin. Frances Bloland, Nancy Ahearn, Jack London, Eldred Smith, Robert Martinson, Seymour Chatman, Charles Shein, Pete Steffens, Francis Gates, Joe Neilands, Kenneth Stampp, John Searle, Fred Stripp and Richard Strohman.

(Nancy Elnor, contributor)