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DLF WG on Labor in Digital Libraries, Archives and Museums: Valuing Labor Subgroup

Meeting minutes: July 17, 2018

Note-taker: Amy Wickner

UCLA Temporary Librarians[edit]

History of the grievance[edit]

See 1st paragraph here

2010 new director of special collections merged 5 separate departments into one, 35-40 FT staff.

Traditionally paraprofessional (non-MLIS) archival processors

  • Many took on new roles, including public services, but those lines (archival processing) were never reallocated
  • Had not been FT processing archivist until April 2018

Past 4 years, 10 temp archivists cycled through

Fulfilling core duties, not project work, paid through soft money

2013: union filed grievance against UCLA bc 20 temp librarians throughout library BUT archivists not categorized as librarians at the time (Principal Museum Scientist instead)

  • Successfully converted temp lines to state lines but archivists not affected

2015: converted PMS positions to 2-year temporary librarian positions

Changes in leadership

  • no director in dept for 4 years
  • Temp Assoc. University Librarian → now permanent AUL / stand-in director (Sharon Farb)

Became clear over the past year that archivists were not heard, no plan in place to fix the situation, posted new temp librarian job

  • Hopefulness of first year → looking for a job by the time you realize the situation won't change
  • hard for archivists to force change on a time-limited basis

Job descriptions aren’t project-based

  • Vague, not so different from permanent descriptions
  • The only thing making them term is arbitrary 2-year limit
  • archivists are a disposable / renewable resource compared to other roles
  • ethics & legality of continuing to collect without staff in place to handle accessions & backlog

Grievance initially filed May 2018 (?)

  • Unofficial meeting with library HR, campus labor relations, union (UCAFT) reps, 6 archivists listed in grievance
  • LHR didn’t respond within 10 days
  • Step 1 (formal) in grievance process
  • LHR filed response disagreeing - listed jobs & identified as temp positions, not really an argument
  • UCAFT currently in bargaining with UC / the UCs
    • UCLA is up next week
    • Introducing changes to language in contract re: temp appointees *where appropriate* (filling in for lib on leave, time-limited fully funded project, filling in for temp reassigned librarian), further limit where they’re possible, fewer loopholes
      • Send intention not to re-appoint within 90 days of end of contract (is that right?)
      • Ability for appointee to respond to that notice
    • good timing for the grievance bc more pressure, ability to negotiate, awareness
  • Open letter
    • Several copies of letters + signatures distributed to AUL (& ??) but no response so far
    • This is a profession-wide breaking point, not a sustainable practice
    • we aren't sustainable & institutions need to commit funding
    • Support this type of work!
    • People listed in the grievance are not early career

Our future plans[edit]

Presenting at bargaining next week

Courtney is incoming chair for SAA Issues & Advocacy section

  • Launching fall survey on temp labor
  • SAA president supportive → foundation funding?

Shira Peltzman & Karly Wildenhaus presenting at DLF Forum

SAA I&A section meeting

SAA SNAP session on current state of hiring, labor practices

DLF Labor WG statement of support

  • Balancing specific support for UCLA grievance & open letter with emphasizing that these issues are systemic
  • Will send draft to make sure not working against interests

Input from you -- suggestions, comments, etc.[edit]

What's your take on the kind of support you're getting from your colleagues? Any admin / management signees? Is support limited to signing or any active advocacy from people in more stable positions?

  • No one from the top level
  • Some middle managers have signed
    • Former head of processing & one other middle mgr signed as external people
    • Digital archivist support
    • Some heads of special collections from other UCs (or maybe that counts as top level idk)
  • Some “I’m not comfortable signing” responses including among curatorial staff
    • Some participation in 1:1 conversations
    • Reservations re: retribution
  • Feeling good about plan of escalated circulation, starting with UCLA, adding UCs, and on → wide acknowledgement across profession may make some people more comfortable signing
  • Others may feel more comfortable advocating individually
  • Acknowledge broader support than represented by signatures, especially in next week’s meeting

Plans for moving up to the next level of organizing, test power?

  • Continuing to involve & update the community
  • If you support us, send this email / statement of support, form + area for added comments (just one idea for now)
  • Keep conversation focused on broader issues
  • Documentation! Make it available, be a model for others
  • Get UCLA Library as a whole to address temporary contracts, including e.g. tech staff hired on 2-year contracts
    • Open forum discussion? Don’t want positions converted without ever talking about it or acknowledging 🐘 in the room
    • Opportunity for UCLA be a model for other institutions

DLF has toolkits & we can use wiki to publish them

Open to questions from the group[edit]

Following up with any individual signees to provide additional support?

  • redelivering letter next week on the bargaining day
  • 2-week cycle of escalating


Next meeting scheduled August 10, 12pm EDT (same call info)

Open invitation to UCLA folks to discuss/update at future calls