Lecturer and activist Andrew Tonkovich has taught at UC Irvine as a contingent faculty member for 22 years. He has guided and mentored ~4000 students during that time and has never taken a leave of absence. Andrew just had emergency brain surgery and is experiencing complications during recovery, delaying his return to the teaching he loves. Yet UC Irvine has twice denied him the paid medical leave our union negotiated for long-term lecturers. Adding insult to injury, because he can't work this term, UC Irvine is trying to claw back Andrew's salary and the employer-paid portion of his insurance premiums from last summer.
UC-AFT is the union of teaching faculty and librarians at the University of California, representing nearly 7,000 academic workers on all UC campuses. Our faculty bargaining unit is currently negotiating a new contract. We're fighting to end the relentless purging of precarious faculty and the epidemic of unpaid work among our members. We're fighting for respect, dignity, and compensation commensurate with our essential role in the UC's teaching mission. We're fighting so that UC students can count on having faculty like Andrew to inspire them.
Andrew's story is just one part of the bigger picture of contingent faculty labor. He represents the type of scholar-teacher who can make a difference in thousands of students' lives if permitted to have a long-term career at the UC. And his story illustrates the crushing callousness and contempt with which UC admin treats many lecturers.
Let's tell UC admin they can't ignore us anymore. The people in a position to approve Andrew's leave and stop the claw back include Diane O'Dowd (UCI Vice Provost for Academic Personnel), Marianne Beckett (UCI Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel), and Michael Szalay (UCI English Department Chair). Signing this petition will send them the message not only that Andrew deserves time to recover in recognition of his long and selfless service to the UC, but also that we're prepared to fight so that UC students will get the education they deserve.