Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the week of August 29, 2016
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Graduate student teaching and research assistants in private universities like Columbia won the right to organize unions in a National Labor Relations Board ruling last week, reports the New York Times, joining graduate students that already have that right at the University of California and many other public universities. The Washington Post reports that this “new reality [is] not sitting too well with schools,” adding that Columbia University raised student stipends “17 percent over the next four years, a move that graduate organizers say was meant to pacify students.”

A California appellate court ruling last week opens the door to changes in pension benefits if the ruling is upheld by the state Supreme Court, reports Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. The judges said “the Legislature may, prior to the employee’s retirement, alter the formula, thereby reducing the anticipated pension … so long as the … modifications do not deprive the employee of a reasonable pension.”

After more than two years of planning and raising funds to build a Berkeley Global Campus along the southeast Richmond shoreline, Chancellor Dirks announced on Thursday that plans have been “suspended indefinitely due to UC Berkeley’s budget deficit,” reports the East Bay Times. Five months earlier the Koret Foundation “gave the university a $1 million planning grant to help shape ‘the research agenda’ for the project,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. An earlier plan “to expand the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the land fell through in 2013 after the lab lost out on federal funding.”

The Mercury News reports Richmond residents “were shocked to learn the news, especially because the working group has spent two years meeting to discuss how the project could benefit Richmond residents through set-asides for affordable housing, union jobs and procurement from local businesses.” Many residents and officials had hoped the campus would “transform” this working-class community. Attention has been focused on this site during years of environmental cleanup from industrial activities that occurred prior to UC ownership of the land. Information about the sites’ history is available on the remediation and restoration project fact sheet.

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