Monday, April 13, 2015

UC’s Failure to Respect Shared Governance and Union Contracts Concerning Online Education

Changing Universities
March 18th, 2015

UC Santa Cruz is the only campus with union representation for its senate members, and since the faculty association (SCFA) has the right to bargain over local employment issues, it has determined that the university failed to meet its basic contractual obligations when it signed off on an online program without union approval. Meanwhile, UC-AFT is also in the process of filing grievances over a similar set of issues, and now we are moving to a confrontation that could have national implications.

In the SCFA Request for Information letter to the university, the Faculty Association points out that the recent deal with Coursera conflicts with several legal and contractual requirements. The first issue concerns who owns the intellectual property of a faculty lecture or class: “In 2000, CUCFA successfully lobbied for legislation establishing that individual professors, and not the University, own the intellectual property in their live performances and course materials. . . Viewed within this legal framework the contract template that faculty will be expected to sign before their courses can become available on Coursera appears to put the UCSC campus in the position of becoming the publisher of this material on Coursera and other platforms.” In other words, UC is asking faculty to sign away their intellectual property rights.

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