Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of September 23, 2013

It wasn’t the best week to launch the latest UC innovation, “Promise for Education,” which uses crowdfunding to raise money for scholarships. “Finding creative new ways to increase private support for UC has taken on greater importance in recent years as state funding has been dramatically cut,” said the UCLA press release. Celebrities have pledged to pitch in.

The same day, Reuters news service carried a different headline – “Cash-strapped University of California may spend millions on president's residence” – in a report that the regents may approve an initial $620,000 to fix up the president’s mansion. The final price tag for the project is expected to run $6 million, and during its two-year duration, UC will be paying $10,000 per month for incoming president Janet Napolitano’s rented residence. Some regents have suggested selling the mansion instead. Perhaps it’s time for a “bake sale for a bomber” bumper sticker updated for UC.

Following the surprise selection of Napolitano for UC president, criticism has been growing over the hiring process. "We want to see a transparent UC, where the people who are paid out of student tuition money are accountable," said Caroline McKusick, a member of UAW 2865, representing UC graduate student employees.

Columnists Matier and Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle report that changing football coaches at UC Berkeley will cost $16.3 million, including a payout to the coach who was recently fired. The campus is already struggling to pay off the stadium and athletic center, which cost almost half a billion dollars and has been generating much lower revenue than projected.

The numbers of UC and CSU employees earning at least $100,000 per year has grown nearly 25 percent over the past four years, reports the Orange County Register. UC added 6,125 employees since 2009, for a total of 28,744 six-figure employees.

UC workers who are not football coaches and who don’t live in $10,000/month rentals have been forced to strike to see even modest pay increases and pensions. The California Public Employment Relations Board last week issued a complaint against UC for intimidating striking hospital workers for their two-day strike in May. UC claims its actions were legal.

California legislators last week raised the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, the highest in the nation. “The wage increase is expected to provide a significant economic boost to California,” writes the California Federation of Labor’s Steve Smith. “By providing an estimated $2.6 billion in additional wages to the state’s lowest-paid workers, California will reap $1 billion in new economic growth as workers spend their increased wages.”
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