Monday Memo
For the Week of March 06, 2017
It’s the first case of a US public university offshoring its IT jobs. UCSF information technology workers, who have fought a brave battle against offshoring even though they do not have the protection of a union contract, packed up their desks last week as their layoffs went into effect. UC outsourced their jobs to India-based multinational HCL, reports ArsTechnica, PCWorld, CBS Bay Area, and the Central Valley Business Times. At least 13 affected workers plan to sue UC, reports the San Jose Mercury News. UPTE-CWA, which helped the workers organize, warns that other IT employees could face offshoring because UC’s contract with HCL is systemwide.

UPTE members gather to prepare for contract bargaining.
UPTE members gather to prepare for contract bargaining.
Photo by Jelger Kalmijn
If you’re faced with an extraordinary budget deficit, what do you do? If you’re a UC Berkeley executive, you hire an expensive PR firm. The Sacramento Bee reports that with a $150 million budget deficit last year, UC Berkeley spent $400,000 on a PR agency “to address media and stakeholder backlash” over the cuts. Their work soon expanded to responding to Berkeley’s sexual harassment scandals and polishing the chancellor’s image.

The Bee also reports that UC disciplined more than 100 employees systemwide for sexual misconduct in the three years before Berkeley’s scandal hit the news.

UC’s release of sexual misconduct records shows a “haphazard practice of redacting information [that] exposed the names of some low-profile workers while sometimes shielding executives and professors,” reports the San Jose Mercury News. For example, while UCLA records identified a food service worker “who was fired for harassing two women,” they “did not identify an associate professor that harassed a student” who then feared going to class.

UC Davis’s chancellor Linda Katehi was forced to resign last year amid a scandal about her presence on non-university corporate boards. Public filings show that her successor, Gary May, will earn $325,000 for his presence on corporate boards, including defense corporations. UCOP characterized his corporate participation as “an asset.”

Because of a White House regulatory freeze issued in January, a final rule to reduce workers’ exposure to beryllium that was to take effect on March 10 will be delayed, possibly until a new administration restores rules to protect workers. The new rule will affect UPTE members at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and other workplaces. (Says EHS Today, “Beryllium, either inhaled or through skin contact, contributes to an increased risk of lung cancer [and] chronic lung disease.” A union’s persistence in developing the new rule, which took over 40 years to complete, is described in The Pump Handle.)

The Republican assault on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has intensified since the November election. An In These Times article explains what’s at stake – for union as well as non-union workers. Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices.

California legislators have introduced more than three dozen bills this year seeking to make college more affordable across the state’s three public college systems. Proposals include tuition freezes and lowering the price of textbooks.

A new study by Education Trust, a Washington-based education group, ranks UC Riverside among the top schools in the country for the success of African American students. Another study by a group of university professors found that UC San Diego is one of the best schools in the country for fostering upward social mobility.

Fears that Donald Trump’s war against immigrants was discouraging immigrant students in California from applying for financial aid were allayed by a last-minute surge of thousands of applications. Ultimately, more students filed applications this year than last year, according to the California Student Aid Commission.

How do you beat apathy and powerlessness in the workplace? Labor Notes is offering a free online class with real-life examples, practical tips, and hands-on exercises on how to bring your co-workers together and fight to win.

On Wednesday, March 8 – International Women’s Day – UPTE’s Berkeley local will forgo its regular meeting to rally at Lower Sproul Plaza in solidarity with women striking at Berkeley and across the world for equal pay, reproductive freedom, immigrants’ rights, and an end to racism, misogyny, and violence against women. UPTE will be there from 12 to 1; the event itself begins at 11:00 and ends at 2:00.

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