Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of March 04, 2013

It’s a bad news, good news kind of week. First, the bad: it seems that UCSB administrative professionals (APs) may not be getting pay raises, as we reported last week. APs have been organizing with UPTE for a fair pay increase, and more than 1,400 of them signed a petition to the UC regents last fall. When that petition got no response, APs began circulating a new petition to campus chancellors, asking them to advocate for a fair pay increase. UCSB chancellor Henry Yang had intended to use his Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund for the raises to non-union-represented staff, but apparently lame-duck UC president Mark Yudof's mid-February announcement trumped that plan.

Now the good: last Thursday, February 28, UC Berkeley’s chancellor, Robert Birgeneau wrote to non-represented staff to tell them they’d get 2% pay increases effective March 1. The “non-represented” group is mostly APs, with some higher level administrators included as well. San Francisco Chronicle columnists Mattier & Ross say the funds are from “investment income, not state money,” and note that “the raises come as UC is in the midst of contract talks with its unions, and as other workers are trying to organize.” Indeed, Berkeley’s APs are the largest group receiving the 2% raise, and the Berkeley campus is a hotspot of AP organizing and petition-circulating. Is there a connection? Our guess is yes.

UC has launched its search for a new president to replace Mark Yudof, who will be ending his term in August. The regents have appointed a search committee, which met on Feb. 26. According to the notice on the UCSF news page, “the committee will consult broadly with constituent groups of the University from across all 10 campuses, as well as the faculty, student, staff and alumni advisory committees.” The Los Angeles Times reported that UC has set up a new website to solicit comments on the selection. The search committee intends to make a recommendation to the regents by July.

The search committee might consider the example of Timothy White, the new chancellor of the 427,000-student California state university system. He asked for a 10% cut on his pay, dropping it to $380,000 per year. The former chancellor of UC Riverside has been touring the campuses, meeting with faculty, staff and students, including a stop at CSU East Bay, where he earned his master’s degree.

The Daily Californian reported that UC Berkeley administrators estimate a loss of $49 million in federal research funding due to the sequester caused by Congress’s failure to agree to budget reforms. The UC Riverside Highlander warned that the sequester will cause $177 million in research cuts in California. In 2010, UCR alone brought in $115 million in research funding.

"Wellness" is good – or is it? Beware of wolves in sheeps' clothing, as ostensible health incentives can turn quickly from the carrot to the stick approach. Under the banner of health promotion, some companies are making "workers pay more for their insurance based on individual differences in their medical condition or lack of adherence to 'wellness' standards." 

On March 1, UC Berkeley held a day-long symposium on the future of the research library. UC Riverside will host its own summit on immigration reform on March 16.

UC has weighed in on the side of corporate agribusiness by filing an amicus brief on behalf of Monsanto Corporation in a case before the US Supreme Court. For millennia, farmers have used their own seed from previous harvests to plant new crops. With bioengineered strains, Monsanto has been trying to force farmers to purchase every year’s seeds from the giant agribusiness company, and it alleges that one farmer, Vincent Bowman, failed to do so. The 75-year-old farmer waged a David-and-Goliath battle all the way to the Supreme Court. Now UC is claiming it will be harmed if Monsanto doesn’t prevail.
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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.

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