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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 March 21, 2011


A Wisconsin circuit court judge has issued a temporary restraining order suspending implementation of the Republicans’ law killing collective bargaining in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin secretary of state had already stated that he would wait until the 10-day deadline before publishing the law. Unions and employers have been using that reprieve to renegotiate contracts, since the union-busting law will not repeal contracts currently in effect.

Meanwhile, union and Democratic efforts to recall the Wisconsin senators who rammed through the bill are quickly building steam and causing conservatives to complain that they are being out-organized.

While the fight rages in Wisconsin, in Michigan union and community members are rallying to defeat “financial martial law”: a law that would allow the governor to declare a “financial emergency” in a city or school district and appoint a manager with broad powers, including the ability to fire local elected officials, break teachers’ and public workers’ contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services—and even eliminate entire cities or school districts without any public input.

Right here at the university, UC-AFT president Bob Samuels challenges the "budgetary reality" of UC's Office of the President in a letter to the regents, and expresses concern that the regents "are making important budgetary decisions based on inaccurate information" about state support for the UC system. With such profit-making sectors as the medical centers, Samuels claims that "UC's total revenue continues to increase, and what is needed is a more effective system for sharing funds."

Grim predictions about UC’s budget were reported at Wednesday’s regents meeting. The Contra Costa Times reported that “students are likely to bear the brunt of [UC’s] budget crisis for years to come.” Even with “reduced class offerings and staff layoffs,” and $50 million in spending cuts at UC headquarters and central campus offices, the newspaper said, UC will likely face a $1.5 billion budget gap in the next few years.

The latest Field Poll shows a disturbing change in the public’s perception about the “generosity” of public employee pensions between 2009 and now, but little attention has been given to a McClatchy Newspapers article about congressional pensions. “Lawmakers ... pay less into their pensions, and get a better match from taxpayers, than most state employees do across the nation.”

Another front-page hit on public workers. This time, we’re being attacked for taking large vacation payouts when we retire. If you read through the story, though, you’ll find that the employees amass such large vacation balances because they can’t take time off due to unfilled positions, understaffing, and furloughs.

A majority of Californians surveyed in the Field Poll support the governor’s plan to extend temporary tax increases, and “large majorities oppose cuts to public schools, law enforcement, higher education, health care for the poor and disabled, child care and mental health.” ____________________________________________________________________________________

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