Union Representation and Influence in CA Public Higher Education

Union Representation and Influence in CA Public Higher Education

In California, union representation in the public higher education system makes up the 8th highest percentage of union members in the United States. Though there is no state requirement to be a union member, the benefits in both representation and influence in the public education sector are invaluable in protecting the worker’s rights of academic professionals, strengthening the voice of their collective bargaining power, and improving professional development opportunities for the 1.15 million public-sector union members that provide professional academic services and education across the state.

Unions have influenced organizational performance and advocated for an increase in the quality of education, additional investment of resources, and overall improvement of education for a long time. Across the state, there is a vast amount of union representation across all campuses at California State University, University of California, and California Community College public systems. Creating a strong education infrastructure in the state has helped influence public perception of unions as a necessary public good for workers’ rights, professional development, collective bargaining, and student success.

Workers’ Rights

Union representation helps academic professionals have a voice when negotiating increased wages, benefits packages, job security, pension funds, and paid leave.

It’s important for union leadership to function like a democratic body and be transparent when negotiating contract language that would impact policies that affect their health, work, and livelihoods. For example, the recent vaccination policy that APC recently negotiated with the CSU.

The Academic Professionals of California (APC) union has been effective for Unit 4 employees in negotiating and enforcing salary increases and better benefits in the CBA.

The union provides a connection to the individual and collective needs of the union members through negotiations with local campus and chancellor’s office administrators to protect the health and safety of every union member in at every CSU campus.

Additionally, APC union members voted for Salary Bonus Programs exclusive to Unit 4 employees such as the Long-Term Service Bonus, Educational Achievement Stipend, a Merit Bonus Pool, and a Budget Shortfall Mitigation Bonus.

Professional Development

By leveraging contract negotiations, unions can secure opportunities for members to develop additional professional skills on the job, receive reimbursement for any required learning in their role, and continue utilizing the institution’s education system to advance their careers. Each CSU campus has union representation that can offer support to Unit 4 employees.

Article 16 in the CBA lists the negotiated Professional Development benefits. These include Fee Waivers for employees, Training, Professional Development Leaves, and Continuing Education.

Collective Bargaining

APC is among the six unions that represent employees across the 23 campuses. The idea of Collective Bargaining and what unions are about is to ensure that the rights and benefits we have negotiated remain intact, and when in active bargaining, negotiate the language that benefits our members.

Student Success

While Unit 4 employees work outside of the classroom, they have a direct impact in guiding students from recruitment and admissions all the way through to graduation.

In a testament to the recruiting expertise and dedication of the APC Unit 4 members, the California State University system enrolled its largest-ever student body in the fall of 2020.

The positive influence of union representation for better work environment, has translated into long-term careers for Unit 4 employees, which directly benefits students. The extensive experience of Unit 4 employees helps students throughout their education by supporting them and assisting with all the questions and issues that may arise during their college years.

It’s clear the California public higher education system benefits greatly from having all these different union voices, skills, and representation of its members across state campuses to provide support in administrative roles, student services, and more. The influence on the public sector comes from having a larger collective of union support.

By uniting their voices and securing better workplace and benefit packages for each member throughout California, these unions create a diversity of thought that can lead to tangible progress and a positive future for the public sector in higher education and beyond.

If you would like to have your voice heard and vote on important contract issues, contact your local steward today for more information on APC.