|For the Week of September 30, 2013
Today is the last day to add your name to UPTE-CWA’s letter to incoming UC president Janet Napolitano, urging her to do the right thing by employees as she starts her tenure tomorrow. The letter urges her to maintain reasonable wages and a secure retirement for UC employees, without a divisive two-tier plan. You can read some of your coworkers’ comments and add your own here. Please sign by 5 pm today – UPTE will deliver the letter tomorrow, October 1.
Meanwhile, UC’s labor relations bureaucrats are implementing their "last offer on wages and a revised pension plan" to AFSCME-represented service workers, reports the Daily Californian, as it did earlier to AFSCME’s patient care workers. UC will raise its pension contribution from 10 to 12 percent, and require workers to increase their contributions from 5 percent to 6.5 percent. In addition, UC is implementing a two-tier pension plan, with members hired after July 1 paying 7 percent rather than 6.5 percent into their pensions, which cuts at least $50 the workers' paychecks each month.
The growing chasm between the ultra-rich and the rest of us is the subject of “Inequality for All,” a new documentary featuring UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich.
As a new report shows that the gap between rich and poor in the US is larger now than at any time since 1916, it’s becoming clear that even professors in the hallowed halls of the academy aren’t immune. “Death of an adjunct” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette went viral after it detailed the tragic death of 83-year-old Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor of French at Duquesne University for more than 25 years. Despite her long tenure, she was a “contingent employee,” with no job security, health benefits, or pension – nearly homeless and earning barely enough to survive. Contingent faculty now make up more than half of all faculty at colleges and universities.
Adjunct professors are struggling to unionize at Duquesne University, which has fought the effort by claiming an exemption as a religious university. The university published a rebuttal to the article, which in turn generated a storm of angry letters, including one attacking the “the savage inequality of paying Duquesne University's president $700,000 per year and one of its French professors $25,000 per year.” Read the full exchange.
Pensions are good public policy, while 401(k) plans – heavily promoted in recent decades as the modern alternative – have proven to be a failure. With 401(k)s, the wealthy have done very well; the rest of us, pretty poorly indeed. The Economic Policy Institute has just published a report, the Retirement Inequality Chartbook, showing that 401(k)s – the do-it-yourself model of retirement security – has led to the same staggering disparities that we are now seeing with income and wealth.
California governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill extending six weeks of paid family leave benefits to workers needing to care for seriously ill loved ones. The new legislation expands the definition of “family” to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law.