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Got the Monday blues? Start your week off right with a helping of useful information and informed opinion. 

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For the Week of September 13, 2010

This Thursday, UC’s Board of Regents is set to consider increases of up to 5% in employee pension contributions, and begin discussing other cuts to pension benefits such as establishing an inferior “New Tier” that would cut benefits as much as 56%.

UC employees are reacting angrily to the “post-employment benefits” task force’s recommendations, calling them “unnecessary,” “unethical,” “morally dubious,” and even “cruel” (see the comments at the bottom of this page, and feel free to add your own).

The university still has not responded to the dissenting opinion written by the faculty and staff members of the task force, which called the cost-cutting recommendations “very harmful” and “completely unacceptable.” If adopted, the proposals will result in huge cuts for ordinary UC workers, while it will increase payouts for executives.

UC’s spinmeisters have been telling the media that UCRS is in danger of a huge deficit, but critics such as UCLA lecturer Bob Samuels say this is merely a scare tactic since the pension plan is currently well-funded.

The task force’s 16-member “steering committee” that backs the proposal is comprised of wealthy UC executives who collectively make about $5.5 million and whose average individual salary is $344,691 (salary data from Sacramento Bee’s database). Fifteen of the 16 are men.

A coalition of UC unions is organizing transportation to the September 16 regents’ meeting in San Francisco (call 510.848.UPTE to reserve a seat on the bus and let us know if you need an UPTE shirt). Some campuses plan local demonstrations; contact your UPTE local for details. Post this flyer to help educate your colleagues about the pension proposals.

“Stop blaming public employees for the state’s rickety finances” was the title of an op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee published over Labor Day weekend by UPTE administrative professional member Stefanie Kalmin and Ken Jacobs, co-chair of UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Education and Research.

UCSB professor Christopher Newfield sums up the importance of public higher education in California in an interview about his latest book, Unmaking the Public University: the forty-year assault on the middle class. Newfield argues that the funding crisis is not merely the result of an economic downturn, but is being used by conservatives to undercut public education because of the social mobility it provides to working people. Newfield also hosts a blog, Remaking the University.
 
As if to illustrate the point, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management has proposed giving up all state funding in return for more budget flexibility and the right to raise out-of-state tuition to the levels of private institutions.

Labor is joining with more than 170 other civil rights and community organizations to revitalize the struggle for social justice in a “One Nation” march on Washington on October 2. Can’t make it to Washington? Check the One Nation website for local events, and spread the word.

Could our next governor be a billionaire executive? The California Labor Federation documents Republican candidate Meg Whitman’s history of anti-worker actions, and has also created a similar backgrounder for Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, who signed the law in 1978 that gave unions the legal right to organize at UC and Cal State. _____________________________________________________________________________________

The Monday Memo is edited collectively by a group of UC administrative professionals who are working for union representation with UPTE-CWA. We publish most Mondays, unless it is a university holiday, or we just need a mental health day off. We welcome your submissions, either credited or anonymous, at mondaymemo@upte-cwa.org. Please feel free to forward this memo to your colleagues. Anyone may subscribe to the Monday Memo.

If you are a UC administrative professional and haven’t asked your coworkers to sign a commitment card for the union, please do so today. All administrative professionals are also welcome to become members of UPTE, with all the associated rights and benefits.

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