Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of March 16, 2015

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UCOP may be planning to eliminate Kaiser and HealthNet as health benefits options, leaving most employees with only UC Care, which may be expanded to offer an HMO version in addition to the current PPO plan. That’s according to a March 6 report from UC Berkeley’s Committee on Faculty Welfare (FWEL), part of the Academic Senate. UC Care has the highest rate of dissatisfaction among the UC health plans, and problems in Santa Barbara and the Bay Area.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations published a recent essay on the continuing deterioration of compensation and benefits, which notes that total remuneration for UC employees across all job classifications fell from 2% below market to 10% below market between 2009 and 2014.

Administrative Professionals at UCSC
Administrative Professionals at UCSC

But there are some bright spots. Union-represented employees at UC generally do much better than those not-represented, with UPTE-represented workers gaining more than $50,000 in average income over 10 years and preserving the single-tier pension against management’s attempts to undermine it.

The Sacramento Bee rejects as symbolic recent proposals for UC to save money – such as a cap on salaries above $500,000 – and recommends (along with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty) that matching the state’s pension cap “could eventually save the university an estimated $80 million to $100 million annually over the long term. That’s enough to cover in-state enrollment for 10,000 California kids.” UC employees earning above $200,000 annually get a “sweet retirement deal,” says the Bee. “Do people in that income bracket really require such big pensions? And can UC really afford to hand them out?”

UC has hired new attorneys in its effort to combat a lawsuit brought in 2010 by retrees at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who lost their UC health plan coverage when a for-profit consortium took over management of the national defense lab, reports The Independent. The attorneys, Crowell & Moring LLP, also represented Blackwater Security after it was accused of killing Iraqi civilians in 2007. The LLNL retirees raised money to file suit because they considered the change “a violation of promises made during their careers at the Laboratory.”

Last week’s note about “costly delays in implementing” the UC PATH system has been picked up by the San Diego Union-Tribune, which finds it incredible that UCOP “won’t even provide a forecast of when the project will be complete or what its final cost will be” – suggesting “that six years after the project launched, UC officials don’t have a handle on how to fix it.”

More press coverage of National Adjunct Walk-Out Day, this time from Labor Notes: “Thousands of part-time professors from hundreds of institutions participated in the national day of action,” wrote Vivian J. Malauulu, part of a recent wave of contingent faculty organizing nationwide.  

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