Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of June 18, 2012

A massive reorganization of UC Berkeley’s library system has been stopped dead in its tracks by a petition signed by 110 faculty, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Library administrator Tom Leonard recently surveyed faculty, saying staff losses required the cuts, and asking if “they preferred to close 16 of the 24-campus libraries or just 10, but with fewer librarians,” writes the Chronicle. Instead, the faculty objected to having only two choices: “horrible or terrible,” noting "There are no first-rate universities in the world without a first-rate library.” The plan is off the table for now, and Berkeley’s chancellor has convened a special task force to look at the issue.

A coalition of UC union members demonstrated last week at UC Berkeley’s “Staff Appreciation Day,” voicing opposition to a heavy-handed “shared services” reorganization that would negatively affect some 400 campus employees, many of them in information technology, human resources and other administrative jobs. The “shared services” plan is the latest move in Berkeley’s so-called “Operational Excellence” plans, which will likely lead to layoffs, reduced resources and heavily workloads. Union members from UPTE-CWA, CUE and UC-AFT also raised questions about how much the multi-million dollar plan would--or would not--save.

California’s public universities have the fastest rising tuition in the nation, according to a just-published US Department of Education ranking. Seven University of California campuses and three Cal State campuses are among the top 5 percent of public institutions with the fastest-rising tuition. “UC campuses at Berkeley, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Irvine as well as the CSU campuses at Long Beach and Chico all experienced a tuition increase of at least 40 percent between those years,” notes the Daily Californian.

While many public sector educational institutions have union-represented staff and faculty, most in the private sector do not. The Newspaper Guild of New York (CWA) is celebrating an organizing victory for about 100 teachers of English as a Second Language who work for the for-profit Kaplan Corporation, reports Inside Higher Ed. Most of the teachers are professional employees, many with masters’ degrees. Kaplan is the educational subsidiary of the Washington Post. The teachers approached the Newspaper Guild earlier this year, writes CWA News, seeking help in raising their pay, and getting paid time off for illness and vacation, among other issues.

A recent proposal to privatize UCLA’s business school is meeting with criticism. UCLA’s Academic Senate narrowly approved a plan last week to stop accepting any state funds for the program, but the public response has been less enthusiastic, according to UCSB faculty member Chris Newfield, who blogs at Remaking the University.

How can California find new ways to fund public education and other essential services? Taxing California’s wealthiest 1% and closing corporate loopholes could go a long way to solving the state’s budget crisis, according to this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle authored by UCB Public Policy lecturer Roy Ulrich and Lenny Goldberg of the Lenny Goldberg of the California Tax Reform Association. We’ll have a chance to vote on some of these ideas on November’s ballot.

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