Monday Memo
For the Week of March 20, 2017

The case of UCSF information technology workers laid off after management hired an India-based multinational to take over their jobs aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes last night. The workers, almost all of whom are in job titles not covered by contract, have been organizing with UPTE.

At their meeting last week, the UC regents voted to change the makeup of the university’s $10 billion endowment, shifting a significant portion from public to private equity. In addition, the regents were told that the cost of attending a UC campus rose an average of 4% last year, or about $1,100. The Public Policy Institute of California has released a study showing that, even while tuitions are going up, the amount of money the university spends for each degree has been going down.

IT workers at UCSF speak before the regents
IT workers at UCSF speak before the regents

Democrats in the California Legislature have submitted a proposal called Degrees Not Debt to help college students pay for higher education. The plan aims to provide state assistance for tuition and living expenses for nearly 400,000 students in the UC and CSU systems.

The UC system quadrupled its out-of-state student admissions between 2007 and 2016 in order to make up for funding deficits. UC has claimed that no California students have been displaced, though others disagree. The state legislature has made $18.5 million in funds conditional on UC’s capping out-of-state enrollments at 20 percent. The Los Angeles Times reports that the regents debated this cap, but could not come to agreement and decided to delay a decision until their May meeting.

The Monday Memo has reported previously on employer wellness programs and their potential for abuse. Now a bill passed by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce would allow employers to require employees to submit to genetic testing and to impose penalties of up to 30% of the cost of the employee’s health benefits if he or she refuses. Another GOP bill would allow employers to see your genetic information, reports New York Magazine, while Stat News explains some of the hazards of the new legislation, including how employers embrace them as a way to shift health care costs to workers.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget would significantly reduce work-study aid to college students, according to the Washington Post. It also includes dramatic cuts to the Labor Department, according to In These Times and the Houston Chronicle, which would wipe out, among other things, training grants for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Two other articles in In These Times cover the GOP budget cuts: “Republicans Are Racing To Make Workplaces More Dangerous and Unhealthy,” and “House Republicans Vow To Roll Back Labor Law Gains.”

With worker safety and health protections on the federal chopping block, the re-introduction of the Confined Space blog by Jordan Barab, until recently Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, is a welcome sign for union activists fighting for a safe workplace.

Barab is urging calls to legislators on an OSHA recordkeeping rule that “will undermine workplace health and safety in the most dangerous industries.” (Opposition is building to the repeal of this rule, but calls or letters are still needed. Find your lawmakers’ contact information at https://www.callmycongress.com.)

A UC Irvine professor has filed suit alleging that he was denied tenure because of his sexuality. UCI’s Hung Duc Nguyen received a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation in 2016, but despite that and a strong recommendation from his department chair, his tenure bid was turned down.

After a rash of highly publicized sexual misconduct cases last year, the regents at their meeting Wednesday voted to amend the code of conduct for faculty with respect to sexual harassment. The changes were made to clarify the language.

Carol Christ was approved as UC Berkeley’s first woman chancellor. She began at Berkeley in 1970, when only 3 percent of the faculty were women, and eventually rose to become the campus executive vice chancellor.

What do unions do, and why is UPTE vital to safeguarding the rights of UC workers? Check out the new UPTE-CWA 101 eCourse. This online program will provide a basic understanding of unions, UPTE, union contract, and more.

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