|For the Week of October 14, 2013
It’s open enrollment season for UC health plans, and many UC employees once again are being forced to find new doctors because their coverage has changed. This year, UC is phasing out some health plans, and is trying to push employees into new plans such as UC Care that provide coverage through UC medical centers. The problem? Some campuses, like UCSB, don’t have UC medical centers. This has led to confrontations like this one at UCSB between staff and management.
Members of two UC unions are voting this month on whether to strike over the poor offers the university is trying to force upon them. UPTE-CWA’s researchers and techs, numbering some 10,000 systemwide, have been signing strike pledge cards and will be participating in a systemwide strike authorization vote this week. AFSCME 3299 has announced that its members will take a strike vote from October 28-30.
Ten legislators recently signed a joint letter to incoming UC president Janet Napolitano expressing concern about the discriminatory impact of stalled negotiations on UC’s service and patient care workers, who are represented by AFSCME. UC dragged out contract negotiations for those employees, then imposed its final terms on patient care workers in July and service workers in September. This has led effectively to pay cuts for UC’s lowest-paid workers.
Professors and adjunct faculty at the University of Oregon have won their first contract. United Academics, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), began organizing for recognition and a contract in 2007. The new contract covers professors, instructors, researchers, and librarians.
The US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Tuesday about the constitutionality of affirmative action. At issue is Michigan’s Proposal 2 from 2006, which, like California’s Proposition 209 passed ten years earlier, bans affirmative action in public programs, including university admissions. UC has signed on in favor of affirmative action, as have a number of high school districts and public transit agencies. Following passage of Prop. 209, UC’s enrollment of African American, Latino, and Native American students fell by more than 50 percent and remain low.
Reforms of public pensions have usually applied only to newly hired employees. For legal reasons, pensions of current employees have so far been protected against cuts. That could change with a proposed constitutional amendment being circulated by San Jose mayor Chuck Reed. The measure would empower governments to cut the pensions of existing employees. Reed is seeking to place the measure on the 2014 or 2016 ballot.