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UC Labor Union Questions Cuts

UC employees and students protested outside Cheadle Hall last Thursday to endorse UC budget alternatives and protect current student services and medical care.

The rally — held following a forum on workers’ frustrations with UC employment practices earlier that day — is one of several demonstrations that have taken place throughout UC campuses to address a $500 million cut to UC funding in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2011-12 budget.

ACSCME Local 3299 — the statewide union representing UC employees — outlined alternative cuts for the governor’s revised May budget that would save the state $600 million through measures like reducing the number of administrative positions.

According to the union’s lead organizer Edward Woolfolk, the UC system’s implementation of low-level employment cutbacks and tuition increases have disproportionately affected students and employees.

“The budget has always been an issue for UCs, but why does it always have to be put on the backs of students and workers?” Woolfolk said. “The UC administration is really top-heavy. In fact, they have doubled the number of managers [more] than they have had in decades, and it’s those management positions that get all the perks, not workers.”

Woolfolk said the administration has maintained benefits for its employees at the expense of union members’ financial stability.

“No more positions for workers have been created, our salaries have remained stagnant and we have to pay into the pension fund, which is not something we had to do before the 1990s,” Woolfolk said. “Meanwhile, the UC President’s salary is up from $800,000 to one million.”

Although Brown has not finalized additional cuts, campus workers are concerned that their careers will be in jeopardy if further decreases are implemented. Betsey Twitchell, a lead union organizer, said the potential consequences would extend throughout the community.

“In Santa Barbara, a lot of UC families are struggling to make ends meet and these cuts could really make a big difference in their lives,” Twitchell said. “This legislation affects real people who work on your campus and it’s important for everyone to realize that.”

Despite audit requests for the UC’s finances, Woolfolk said the administration has repeatedly delayed processing the requests and is failing to provide public access to the information.

Second-year global studies and dance major Yvette Johnson said the organization should increase its transparency with the campus community.

“How do [UC administrators] expect students to comfortably concentrate on their schoolwork if they don’t know the security of their institution?” Johnson said. “It is rational for tuition to go up if there are more expenses or the university is trying to make some changes, but I think it is their responsibility to let us know what’s up since it is our money being used to make those changes.”

 

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