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For the Week of January 10, 2011
California governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget was released today, and it includes deep cuts to social services and higher education. It spares K-12 education spending, but cuts $500 million of state funding to UC, $500 million to the California State University system, and $400 million from the community colleges. Links to the actual budget documents and some helpful analysis are provided by UCLA history professor Michael Meranze. UC lecturers’ union president Bob Samuels writes that Brown’s cut could be directed at UC executives. The governor also wants a 10% pay cut for those state employees who are not covered by union contracts.
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, writes about the current attack on public workers and their unions by conservatives. The national radio program Democracy Now hosted a discussion on the serious attempts by states to break public sector unions, including by outlawing them altogether.
Workers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have filed suit against the regents for cutting them from the UC retiree health care system after lab management was taken over by a consortium, which included UC, in 2007.
James Russell, author and expert in retirement policy, explains in his blog that the “unfunded liabilities” phrase we’re increasingly hearing in public employee pension debates is really a red herring, part of a manufactured crisis.
Speaking of pensions, there's an excellent PBS Frontline documentary on the topic called "Can you afford to retire?" It shows how inferior 401ks are to traditional pensions, and how companies use them to get rid of their pension obligations while the financial services sector to reap billions from them.
Lest you think it’s all doom and gloom, California unions won significant victories by beating back attempts by the super-rich to buy California’s highest offices, and by breaking the Republican stranglehold on the budget process with the Majority Budget Act. The non-profit journal Labor Notes tells us how the unions
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution demanding that Pacifica Radio remedy its unfair layoffs at Berkeley’s historic listener-sponsored station KPFA in a transparent and fair manner. Employees at KPFA are represented by CWA, UPTE’s national union. The resolution noted that management was "creating conditions that are undermining the democratic spirit of Pacifica Radio's unique experiment,” and called on management to seek mediation with the union.