Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of February 13, 2012

UC employees could see a change in their retirement plans if the legislature approves last week's pension proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to a spokesperson. The retirement age would change to 67 (57 for public safety employees), benefits would be based on a 36-month salary average instead of 12 months, and additional service credit could not be purchased.

Former San Francisco mayor and now lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom has spoken out against Gov. Brown’s higher education budget. In a letter to the chair and vice chair of the joint legislative budget committee, he criticized Brown’s proposed changes to the Cal Grant program as “galling” and “short-sighted.”

Assembly speaker John Perez announced a plan to end corporate tax breaks for large, out-of-state corporations and use the $1 billion in savings to lower tuition for middle class families who make less than $150,000 but too much to qualify for financial aid. About 150,000 CSU and 43,000 UC students would benefit.

Another sign of the creeping privatization of public higher education: the Sacramento Bee reports that UC has been quietly expanding the use of private developers to build student housing over the past decade, authorizing seven deals at Riverside, Irvine and Davis since 2000. The residence halls are on university land but do not necessarily result in housing savings for students. 

Student loan debt is leading to an increasing number of bankruptcies for students and their parents, according to a new survey. A national group of bankruptcy attorneys "says worsening debt levels could spur a financial crisis similar to the mortgage meltdown."

Occupy protestors have returned to UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. 

San Francisco State administrators and students have collaborated on a new website called Student Voice, providing first-person accounts of how drastic tuition increases have affected them and their families.
CWA-represented workers at KPFA, the Bay Area’s historic community radio station, were shocked to find that their employer not only continues to illegally withhold their pension contributions, but is now bouncing paychecks. Workers and community members at the station have been fighting to regain local control from parent network, Pacifica.

Congress has just made it harder for CWA and other unions to organize workers at America’s transportation companies. For many months, Congressional Republicans have been blocking funding for the Federal Aviation Association unless Congress rescinded recent rule changes under the Obama Administration that would have brought union elections for flight attendants and other transportation workers into line with existing labor standards. (They’re currently covered by the 1920s-era Railway Labor Act.) Unions are angry about “compromise” legislation agreed to last week makes it much harder for workers to call for an election – by, for example, requiring even workers laid off in the past ten years to sign the petition calling for an election.
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