Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of February 23, 2015

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UC president Janet Napolitano put UC’s promised tuition increase on hold through summer school as a “good-faith gesture” during budget negotiations, according to the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times.

As the stakes rise, however, legislators are demanding more budget transparency from the university – beginning last week during a State Assembly budget subcommittee, where UC officials and the governor’s office were asked hard questions. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is asking UC leaders to “justify every dollar [they] spend,” reports KQED News, which goes on to list five “big questions the university is being asked.” The Daily Bruin reports that UC figures show it “is spending about $5,000 less per student than it did two decades ago.” Yet, as KQED News points out, UC doubled the number of executives who earn $200,000 or more over the six year period ending in 2013.

Jackie Speier
Senator Jackie Speier listens as workers testify at legislative hearing on UC labor practices. She called UC’s behavior “disgraceful.”
A San Diego Union-Tribune editorial notes that “total UC spending ... went up 40 percent from 2007-08 to the present fiscal year – far greater growth than seen in other large state institutions,” arguing that this fact “undercuts Napolitano’s claims of poverty and shores up critics who say UC has slack, unfocused management.”

Charles Schwartz, a retired UCB professor who has spent years researching UC’s budget, told legislators that the university’s melding of academic and non-academic budgets “distorts rational debate about student tuition and fees,” according to the Daily Cal.

Faculty at private universities will finally be able to get legal right to organize, following a new ruling by the National Labor Relations Board. In 1980 the NLRB ruled that private college faculty were management, because of their role in campus governance, and therefore ineligible for legal rights to unionize. This incredible leap of logic brought faculty unionization to a halt. The Obama NLRB finally overturned the decision, though the case could go to the Supreme Court.

Faculty and employees at public universities are covered by the labor laws of their respective states, and it is under those laws that graduate students at the University of Connecticut are organizing for their first contract. They won recognition from the university last April.

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