Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of June 29, 2015

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Unions in the AFL-CIO celebrated the Supreme Court’s historic ruling last week on marriage equality. Pride at Work executive director Jerame Davis said the “victory in the Supreme Court has affirmed what we already knew – the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law and that includes the right to marry for same-sex couples. We are ecstatic that this ruling will finally deliver equality and justice to families in every state.”

The court also delayed action on an anti-union case before it, Friedrichs v. CTA, which seeks to undermine well-established agency shop laws across the nation. The Atlantic and Labor Notes describe what the case could mean for the labor movement.

The budget deal worked out by Governor Brown and UC president Janet Napolitano will include a two-year tuition freeze for in-state students, but bring “major changes to University of California pension system” according to the Sacramento Bee, with details yet to be worked out. UC wants to “introduce a pension tier with a dramatically lower compensation cap, and could shift new hires from a guaranteed benefit to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.”
Supreme court decision on gay marriage

However, UCSB faculty member Michael Meranze, writing on Remaking the University, notes that “Fortunately, no language describing such options was incorporated into the budget bills signed by the Governor…. Thus neither the Governor nor the Legislature are pressuring the University to introduce a straight DC option.” Meranze adds that the “relative merits of defined contribution verses defined benefit plans were thoroughly, carefully, and widely discussed in the University about six years ago. The conclusion was that the excellence of the University was best served by continuing with UCRP as a defined benefit plan.”

A columnist in the Daily Beast claims the UC administration is turning into “insane speech police” by “encouraging faculty and students to purge mundane, potentially offensive words and phrases from their vocabularies.”  The Los Angeles Times is also alarmed by UC’s “heavy-handed” attempts to “squelch debate or discourage controversial ideas,” and says it is “going the wrong way on free speech.”

The end of July will bring demonstrations in Los Angeles and Oakland celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare, and calls for it to be protected and expanded. Activists at the Pension Rights Center are also calling on the US House of Representatives to protect and expand Social Security.

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