Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of February 03, 2014

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In what is described as a “rescue mission” by the San Francisco Chronicle, UC Berkeley’s library system will receive an infusion of $6 million to be scraped from other internal UC budgets. The change in priorities was not an accident but the result of organized faculty intervention, following their alarm at library management’s decision two years ago to eliminate branches and slash collections and staff. Even with the new cash, cuts to libraries under the cover of a “digital revolution” are still being hotly contested, as this article in the California Magazine makes clear.

Reaction to the January 22-23 regents’ meeting continues to appear, especially in the student press, such as UC Irvine’s New University. Governor Jerry Brown has tied spending increases with a freeze in tuition and insistence that UC cut administrative costs, reports Berkeley’s Daily Californian. UCOP will forgo a budget increase for the first time in five years, according to UCLA’s Daily Bruin.

But the compensation awarded to UC’s new chief financial officer, which could go as high as $1 million, has drawn loud protests. “Once again, UC stands for Ungodly Compensation,” the Los Angeles Daily News exclaimed in an angry editorial.
pay to the order

UCR’s Highlander newspaper also reported that Napolitano “is taking steps to improve faculty diversity in the wake of the Moreno Report, which investigated high-profile cases of alleged racial and ethnic bias and discrimination at UCLA.”

A week before leading a US delegation to the winter Olympics in Sochi, UC president Janet Napolitano outlined her vision for the university in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, but what she actually has done so far is covered in detail by UCR’s Highlander.

UC is perpetuating an "unfair double standard" by insisting "on poverty-level wages for thousands of its lowest-paid workers," writes Kathryn Lybarger in the Sacramento Bee. Lybarger is president of AFSCME 3299, which represents 21,000 UC patient care and service workers. AFSCME-represented workers will be taking a strike vote February 11-13, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

UPTE-CWA’s 15,000 represented employees reached agreement on a single-tier pension and substantial wage increases in December. Timelines for the improvements have been posted for researchers and techs, as well as health care professionals.

A measure that would allow the state and municipalities to roll back pension plans of public workers hit a roadblock last week over California attorney general Kamala Harris’s description of the measure for the ballot. Proponents are suing the attorney general, but the dispute will likely kill efforts to put it on the November ballot.

401k plans are touted as a viable replacement for traditional benefit plans and Social Security, but the Washington Post reports that more than 25 percent of workers are depleting their 401ks just to pay bills – a drain experts say has “dire implications” for future retirees. In 1980, 4 out of 5 private-sector workers were covered by traditional defined-benefit pensions. Today, only 1 of 5 workers is.

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