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For the Week of June 14, 2010

Nurses and their supporters at UC medical centers and student health centers turned out for informational pickets about nurse-to-patient staffing ratios on June 10. The California Nurses Association says UC has a history of understaffing, which endangers patient care. A judge last week issued an injunction preventing the UC nurses from striking; a hearing on the issue is scheduled for June 18. Representatives from CNA and UC debated strike issues on San Francisco public radio’s Forum program. The UC nurses’ action was part of a national protest the same day that saw 12,000 nurses strike in Minnesota – likely the largest nurses’ strike in US history.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled on Friday that Gov. Schwazenegger’s furloughs of employees who work for the State Compensation Insurance Fund were illegal and that they are entitled to $25 million in back pay. It’s one of several decisions that undercuts the governor’s claim that he has the authority to furlough state workers. The governor is appealing the decision to the state’s Supreme Court.

The UC Commission on the Future is meeting today (Monday, June 14) to consider formal recommendations. Three UC professors analyze financial recommendations, proposals for online education, and “complications and potential conflicts of interest of the online initiative,” noting in particular that expanding online education will not likely “deliver access or cost savings.”

The high-risk investment strategies of six New England schools have “resulted in reduced endowments, budget cuts, delayed construction projects, and job eliminations,” writes UC-AFT’s Bob Samuels in a Huffington Post article. Samuels says a new study from the non-profit Tellus Institute concludes that the driving forces behind such risky investments include “the role of trustees and regents with conflicting business interests” – like those at UC. 

California State University trustees are likely to raise student fees to make up for a state budget shortfall when they meet in Long Beach on June 18, even though the governor proposed to keep $336 million for CSU in the budget. In an editorial, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that “CSU students and critics are crying foul” because the trustees are proposing a larger increase than staff had recommeded and “students desperately need -- and deserve -- a break.”

We don’t often hear about professors striking, but that’s exactly the collective action UC librarians are organizing. Following a 400 percent increase in journals published by the Nature Publishing Group, which includes Nature magazine and scores of related journals, librarians have been urging academics to boycott the publisher. Subscription increases would amount to more than $1 million, which librarians say UC as an institution cannot afford. UC academics have contributed more than 5,300 articles to these journals in the past 6 years. "The university is forced to give away information for free and then to buy it back at a huge markup," according to a UC Berkeley professor. "The only alternative the university has is to strike back at what Nature really values."

UCSF released a self-commissioned report showing that the university adds $6.2 billion to the Bay Area economy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The study says that two-thirds of UCSF employees make between $25,000 and $70,000 per year. UCSF produced a similar study in 2003; both studies attempted to quantify the economic impact of the university, which pays no property taxes.

Gustavo Arrellano, author of the “Ask a Mexican!” column in the OC Weekly, declined to honor requests by campus unions not to speak at graduation. Instead, he urged graduates to thank UC service workers for their work and protest budget cuts.
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