Reopener Letter

RE: University of California Reopening Task Forces

Dear President Drake:

Since the pandemic began, our members have been vital to maintaining the operations at the University of California. They have continued to serve students and keep the campuses secure under trying conditions.

You have said in interviews with the media that the UC administration is carefully planning a safe return to in-person classes in the fall. Our members share the desire to get back to normal operations safely. However, while every UC campus has formed reopening committees, worker organizations continue to have no representation on them.

Our lack of participation is not only antithetical to safe reopening practices, but it is also against the principles of the chair of the UC Board of Regents.

When he was speaker of the California Assembly, Chair John Perez wrote an amendment to Section 1257.7 of the state’s health and safety code. The amendment, signed into law in 2009, set parameters for how hospitals should review and update their security and safety procedures.

Crucially, the law requires that “the hospital to consult with affected employees, including the recognized collective bargaining agent or agents, if any, and members of the medical staff.”

Why does your administration, and the rest of the UC Board of Regents, refuse to follow the example set by the efforts of Chair Perez? How can the UC system be planning a safe return without the input of the people who actually perform the work of providing the critical infrastructure that keeps the campuses running?

Our members work in nearly every sector of the UC system. They work tirelessly to save lives and care for patients. They support students on campuses and do research that creates innovations that bolster the reputation of the university. Our members can bring critical perspectives to these committees. Our safety and security deserve to be respected.

We know that the university system has more than $140 billion in investments and reserves. It is likely going to get another $136.3 million in new, ongoing support in the California budget, as that’s what Governor Newsom proposes. It will get another windfall from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, as $685 million is expected to go to UC campuses. We need to know how that money will be used to help students, medical centers, workers, and members of the university community.

In our last letter to you, we noted that the UC Regents advised us that you received your position in large part because of your potential to rebuild positive relationships with labor after years of contentious negotiations, strikes, and legislative battles. The actions you take to encourage Labor’s participation on the reopening committees will go a long way toward achieving that potential.
Please respect the input on safety and security from those workers who have kept the UC system running this past year under very difficult circumstances.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

University Professional & Technical Workers, CWA 9119

CC. UC Board of Regents
Chair John A. Perez
Vice Chair Cecilia Estolano
Maria Anguiano
Richard C. Blum
Laphonza Butler
Michael Cohen
Gareth Elliot
Howard “Peter” Guber
Sherry L. Lansing
Richard Leib
Hadi Makarechian
Jamaal Muwwakkil
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
Lark Park
Janet Reilly
Richard Sherman
Jonathan “Jay” Sures

Ex Officio Regents
Governor Gavin Newsom
Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis
Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the California Assembly
Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Debby Stegura, Alumni Regent
Eric Mart, Alumni Regent