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The headline is deceptive here since the "teacher's union" doesn't actually represent professors, and professors don't actually prioritize teaching in the first place. This concerns lecturers, who have always had a very tenuous position in the UC hierarchy (since lecturers don't get tenure). It's quite unlikely that lecturers would go on strike over online learning; if they did, it's likely that UC would simply replace them with graduate TAs.

For whatever its worth, there is a position class called "Lecturer with Security of Employment" that allows essentially a tenure system for select lecturers. Typically, a lecturer must have at least a PhD to be considered for something like this, it's for people who want to focus on teaching but don't want any research duties.

That position is used very rarely by UC. In the dozen or so departments I worked in during my time working in UCSB's administration, I can remember one or two lecturers with SOE -- it would generally be used to attract or retain a superstar lecturer, but it's not the default. (Tenured positions in general are much harder to come by than they once were, particularly in the humanities.)

It's a shame too. Two of the best professors I ever had were SOE:

http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~ddgarcia/ http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~bh/

The system makes total sense. Everybody wins.

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