The Weekly Tally 11.18.21

FREE SPEECH

Members of the union representing more than 6,000 lecturers in the University of California system have approved a workers’ strike that is playing out this week. The strike, approved by more than 91 percent of members of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, was planned for Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 17 and 18, to protest against the university for what the UC-AFT believes to be unfair labor practices. The negotiations have been ongoing for more than two years. This summer, a state mediator had to get involved after the sides reached an impasse. A sticking point in the dispute is the system’s paid family leave policy. The UC-AFT wants eight weeks of paid family leave at 100-percent pay, but the university system is only offering eight weeks at 70-percent pay for lecturers who have worked at least 1,250 hours, which would omit a large swath of part-time staff. Workers on nine UC campuses plan to strike, including UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“There’s more to life. I want to do what I love.” - Chef Todd Fisher on his new culinary ventures that re-emphasize simplicity. It’s part of a trend among accomplished chefs to downsize to smaller, simpler fare (see Eats story).

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

Good news for readers: Three Monterey County Free Libraries branches have a new device, a video magnifier to help elderly and visually impaired clients. The video magnifiers help people to read not just books and materials in the library, but documents like bank statements. “It can work with anything, including three-dimensional objects,” says MCFL Director Hillary Theyer. Using part of a $50,000 grant from the California State Library, the library system purchased the magnifiers as the first part of this project. Next up is becoming a hub for the State Library’s Braille Talking Book program, through which residents can get books at their homes, plus adding a new audiobook format called Play Aways; neither requires internet access. If everything goes according to plan, the project will be completed by June. “We hope we can keep people reading and learning and engaging and enjoying the things they want,” Theyer says.

GREAT:

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, the state Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program board awarded three grants, totaling $9.86 million, for Ag Land Trust to acquire three separate properties in and around the triangle of farmland between Castroville, Marina and Salinas. In the agency’s project summary of the respective grant applications, the expected public benefits for each are very much the same: It will preserve the agricultural use of the properties in perpetuity, it will protect the viewshed along Highway 156 and it will lock in urban growth boundaries to encourage more infill, among other things. Ag Land Trust’s interim executive director, Marc Del Piero, says the nonprofit is “ecstatic” about the outcome. “Not only are we going to preserve a huge amount of farmland in North County, we’re also preserving southern steelhead habitat along the Salinas River, and otter habitat along the old Salinas River channel.”

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