Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of August 31, 2015

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Former San Jose mayor Chuck Reed’s initiative to gut public employee pensions has been certified for circulation under the title “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016.” Supporters are now gathering signatures to put it on the November 2016 ballot. Billed as a way of controlling public pension costs, the measure would allow current pensions as well as future pensions to be rolled back and would force public workers into inferior and riskier 401k-style plans. As this excellent analysis in the Los Angeles Times shows, the measure is rife with bad ideas. Not only would it undo decades of established California law, it would likely wind up costing money, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Mike Fehr and David Sookne
UPTE members Mike Fehr and David Sookne at a rally with NABET-CWA activist Cheryl Bacon (middle)

If you think this idea will pass UC employees by, think again. As the Monday Memo has previously reported, UCOP has started to implement its plans for degrading the UC retirement system. Remaking the University offers a detailed update to its previous reports on this process, and UPTE’s latest flyer, which you can reproduce and give to co-workers, also outlines what UC is up to.

The good news: a recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans support labor unions and that they want unions to have a greater influence in the political process. The bad news: an even greater majority support so-called “right to work” laws.  People clearly don’t understand that such laws are designed specifically to weaken unions, or that workers’ collective welfare depends on the participation of all. Labor has a lot of educating to do.

Enrollments of California students at UC has declined in the past year as UC has padded its budget by admitting more out-of-state students and soaking them with out-of-state tuition. The Legislature attempted to entice UC to increase in-state enrollments by offering an extra $25 million in the system’s budget this year, but UC has rejected the offer.

UPTE members Mike Fehr and David Sookne (see photo above) joined fellow union members represented by the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America on the picket line in Southern California last Thursday, to protest Fox 11’s cutting of hours and benefits to the station’s employees, according to the California Federation of Labor.

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