Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of October 07, 2013

Janet Napolitano officially went to work as UC’s new president last week, and was greeted by the delivery of this letter signed by over 600 UPTE-CWA researchers, techs, health care and administrative  professionals urging her to “set a fresh course” for UC’s workers by considering the union’s proposal to keep employees on a single-retirement tier as an investment in the university’s future. UPTE members deliver Napolitano letter
Photo by Todd Kolze
Many signers added personal comments, such as this one from an employee at UC Berkeley: “Moving 2500 miles away to a new country for what is hopefully a long-term job is a big life change and commitment, and to be told upon arrival that I will be given second-tier pension and health benefits is not very encouraging.” UPTE’s 10,000 researchers and techs, who are at the bargaining table with UC, will be taking a strike vote next week.

Napolitano “is the power pick of a majority in an increasingly restless University of California Board of Regents,” wrote UC Berkeley professor John Aubrey Douglass, who offered his arguments for the state’s reinvestment in public higher education. For every dollar UC receives from the state, Douglass points out, it receives $19 from other sources.

The California state controller announced last Tuesday that California schools and colleges received $1.28 billion in lottery revenue last year. Of that, community colleges received $168.5 million, CSU got $46 million, and UC received $30 million. At UCLA, the Pritzker Foundation announced that it will donate $15 million to establish a center to research how to make cities more sustainable.

Twenty-one faculty department chairs at UC San Diego have signed a letter calling for higher wages for graduate student instructors (GSIs). Wages are “so low,” wrote the chairs, “that our students often take more than one outside job to make ends meet in this high cost-of-living area, thereby retarding their time to degree….” The union representing the instructors, UAW Local 2850, presented the letter to UC management in bargaining last week.

Longtime Monday Memo readers will remember “Parsky’s Party,” the 2007 article revealing how UC regent Gerald Parsky dismantled UC’s retirement fund management and farmed it out to big finance cronies. Now the Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi in “Looting the Pension Funds” details how public pension funds across the country are being carved up and delivered to Wall Street financiers, to the detriment of the workers who earned them.

Meanwhile, the Institute for America’s Future takes aim at the strategies and methods of a conservative campaign to manufacture the perception of a public pension crisis in order to slash retirement benefits and protect corporate profits.

UC Merced enrollment has now passed the 6,000-student mark after receiving a record number of applications for fall semester.

In a reaction to the government shutdown, which already has forced some scientific labs to close or restrict operations, an anonymous faculty member posting in Remaking the University noted that if he and his colleagues were to stop doing their jobs, which could endanger their constituencies, they’d be fired immediately.
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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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