Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the week of September 26, 2016

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After news broke last week in ComputerWorld that UCSF was laying off 49 information technology (IT) workers so that their jobs could be contracted out to an India-based company, UPTE’s administrative professionals began a petition to UC president Janet Napolitano demanding she halt the process. “As a public institution, UC should not be in the business of using legal loopholes and private firms to undermine UC employment,” the petition reads in part. “Moreover, we are concerned for the privacy and safety of patients and the quality of research and academic excellence jeopardized by this move.”

A new article in Computerworld relates “complicated” ties between UC and this IT services contractor, and says “the (UCSF) IT services contract with HCL ... can be used at any of the 10 campuses in the 190,000-employee University of California system....” Computerworld also reports that the affected UCSF employees “believe that the shifting of their jobs to India may be the start of a system-wide effort to move these public, partially taxpayer-supported jobs, overseas.”


stop outsourcing UC jobs
In a Campus Technology article, the move for campus IT to go corporate and to outsource IT is seen as a necessary evil. One campus administrator said that if we look at IT as a utility, we “want it to cost as little as possible. We don't want to hassle with it. We don't want to bother with hiring and performance reviews ...  We're just going to pay somebody and get out of that business." The benefit for one information officer is that his IT organization is "like a Lego set." As the priorities change, "We can redeploy people however we need to."

What’s wrong with running a public university, like the University of California, like a business? “Businesses generally make human services worse, not better,” according to UCSB professor Christopher Newfield in an interview about his new book, The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. “Businesses logically focus on cutting costs and charging the most they can for the lowest quality competitive product,” according to Newfield, ignoring the less tangible benefits to individuals and society as a whole.

UC Berkeley administrators have rescinded a widely criticized decision to shut down a student-taught and faculty-supervised class on Palestinian history, according to the Academe Blog of the American Association of University Professors and the Los Angeles Times. The Divisional Council of the Academic Senate said the administration’s action “raised serious questions about academic freedom,” and promises “a comprehensive review” of the incident. An op-ed in the Daily Californian by UCB professor Samera Esmeir called the shutdown “censorship of academic pedagogy andadministrative policing of intellectual inquiry.”

Read the latest from UPTE’s administrative professionals (AP) organizing campaign in the union’s Update newsletter, hot off the press. You can also learn about the big victory for part-time faculty at community colleges, the likely expansion of UPTE’s tech unit, and UC hospital workers’ fight to preserve healthy sick leave policies.

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