memo

Got the Monday blues? Start your week off right with a helping of useful information and informed opinion. 

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For the week of August 31, 2009

Over the past few days, thousands of UC staff, faculty and students have been voting on a statewide motion of “no confidence” in President Mark Yudof, and have also been gearing up for a systemwide walkout on September 24.

If you haven’t yet voted in the no confidence polling, you can do so online or in person until Wednesday, September 2.  To vote online, simply send an email to absentee@upte-cwa.org. You will receive an automated reply with voting instructions. You do not have to be a union member to vote. All staff, faculty and students, represented or not, are encouraged to cast a ballot. The election is sponsored by the 7-member UC Union Coalition.

Yudof created the plan that will require most state-funded employees to take cuts in pay in the form of furloughs. At the same time, Yudof and the regents quietly approved dozens of executive raises, and agreed to lend the state nearly $200 million so the state could return it to UC for construction projects at eight of ten campuses.

UC’s unions continue to advocate for fair solutions that do not harm the university, such as tapping into UC’s sizable unrestricted cash reserves to temporarily cover any decrease in state funds.

UPTE, the union that represents 12,000 UC researchers, techs and heath care professionals, has called a one-day strike on Thursday, September 24, over the university’s unfair labor practices. This is the first day of class at most campuses, and the day that faculty and student groups have also targeted for a systemwide walkout over Yudof’s policies. UC faculty may add their support to the letter by writing ucfacultywalkout@gmail.com.

Faculty are demanding no furloughs or pay cuts for staff making under $40,000, budget transparency, and respect for the Academic Senate. They are particularly upset about being told they cannot take furloughs on instructional days, the “first direct intervention by UCOP into faculty teaching decisions since World War II.” Not only does this ruling from UCOP cut into the established independence of the faculty, it will tend to hide the real effects of the cuts from students and the public.

Even with furloughs going ahead for many UC employees, management is laying off workers, cutting services, and planning to reduce in-state student enrollment to make room for nonresidents. Students from other states and countries pay $32,400 in fees, compared to $9,750 for California residents.

As one Berkeley campus journalist notes, UC’s cuts will have wide-ranging and probably long-term effects on student life and campus demographics. At UCLA, the venerable Arts Library is threatened with closure. Thousands have signed a petition asking that it be spared.

An article Yudof wrote in 2002 on “hybrid universities” foreshadows the cuts now under way at UC. In some circles, a “hybrid university” is one that mixes classes with online learning, but Yudof meant something very different. Because of reduced state support, public research universities have to compete in the market and adapt to a “more privatized model.”

“In other words,” a UT Austin student wrote in response, “administrators must make an example out of certain ‘inefficient’ programs,” and faculty “must pursue the acquisition of grants and endowments as well as conduct profitable research if they are to remain competitively employed.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that furloughs for state workers have been pushing some into bankruptcy or further into debt. Amazing then, that legislation limiting UC and Cal State University executive pay increases during bad budget years was killed in committee. California Senate Bill 217, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), overwhelmingly passed the Senate in May on a 35-3 bipartisan vote, but after intense lobbying by UC and CSU was put in “suspense” so it could not be voted on by the Legislature.

“These administrations lack a moral compass,” said Senator Yee told the California Chronicle. “It is unconscionable that CSU and UC lobbyists would argue that a freeze on executive pay costs the universities a dime” at the same time, he added, the same executives were implementing furloughs for UC workers.
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The Monday Memo is edited collectively by a group of UC administrative professionals who are working for union representation with UPTE-CWA. We publish most Mondays, unless it is a university holiday, or we just need a mental health day off. We welcome your submissions, either credited or anonymous, at mondaymemo@upte-cwa.org.

Please feel free to forward this memo to your colleagues.

If you are a UC administrative professional and haven’t asked your coworkers to sign a commitment card for the union, please do so today. All administrative professionals are also welcome to become members of UPTE, with all the associated rights and benefits.
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