UC Furlough Plan Moves Forward

Committee of UC Board of Regents Voted to Require Unpaid Days Off: Full Board to Vote on Plan Thursday

Photo: Members of the UC Board of Regents' Committee on Finance voted 11-1 in favor of UC President Mark Yudof's furlough plan.
Emma Lantos/Staff
Members of the UC Board of Regents' Committee on Finance voted 11-1 in favor of UC President Mark Yudof's furlough plan.

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Photo: Unionized UC employees protested against the furloughs prior to Wednesday's meeting. The unions, excluding AFSCME Local 3299, must approve the furloughs before they can take effect on Sept. 11.   

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Correction Appended

SAN FRANCISCO-Amid rancor and outcry from employees, a committee of the UC Board of Regents voted 11-1 Wednesday to require that its employees take unpaid days off in order to offset unprecedented cuts in state funding.

The furlough plan, which UC President Mark Yudof proposed last week, would implement a sliding scale of unpaid days off ranging from 11 to 26 days by Aug. 2010, with top earners seeing the highest reductions to their salaries.

Employees could expect to see a 4 to 10 percent reduction in pay depending on salary level.

The full board is expected to approve the plan when the meeting resumes Thursday. The labor unions still in contract negotiations with the university, which do not include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, need to approve the furloughs before they can take effect on Sept.1.

"If (the unions) say no, we will consider other financial alternatives-including layoffs," Yudof said in a press conference following the meeting.

Senior management executives, including campus chancellors, will be limited to only 10 furlough days regardless of salary. Staff and faculty positions funded fully by research grants, as well as student employees, will be exempt from the furloughs.

About 100 unionized UC workers protested before and during the meeting, chanting "lay off Yudof" and "chop from the top."

Workers represented by University Professional and Technical Employees, which is currently in contract negotiations with the UC system, could possibly strike next week following a vote by union members, said Jelger Kalmijn, systemwide president for the union.

Kalmijn said that UC officials should dip into "rainy day" funds to close the budget gap instead of cutting worker pay.

"Now's the time to call them in," he said. "If it's not raining now, when is it? Yudof isn't taking any of these steps. Instead, he is just taking the easy way and saying we'll just cut people."

Yudof said that the furlough plan was the only way to bridge the deficit while also remaining fair to all the UC workers.

"Most employees are mature enough to know that the problem is not in (the UC Office of the President in) Oakland or on campuses," Yudof said. "It's in Sacramento."

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who is also a regent, cast the sole vote against implementing the plan.

A year of furloughs is expected to make up about a quarter of a two-year $813 million reduction in state funding to the university. Additional cuts at each of the 10 campuses will trim off a total of 40 percent of the deficit.

Chancellors called the cuts disastrous, saying that they will limit faculty recruitment, eliminate courses and graduate student instructors and increase class sizes.

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said that cuts to the UC Berkeley campus have already reduced library hours and will prevent the campus from keeping libraries open 24 hours during final exams.

Although the furloughs will keep 450 jobs from being cut on the Berkeley campus, the nearly $100 million budget gap facing the campus will also diminish the availability of student jobs through work-study by one fourth, Birgeneau said.

Garamendi called for the chancellors and regents to "be on the offense" in searching for new revenue. He urged them to support AB 656, a bill that would enact a 9.9 percent oil severance tax and is projected to generate up to $1 billion for higher education this fiscal year.

"It's an option to take a stand and fight," Garamendi said. "I think we need to do it at this meeting or walk away with our heads lowered and our university destroyed."

Some regents criticized Garamendi's request, calling it irresponsible to push support on a bill most have not yet read.

"I think its highly inappropriate to ask the chancellors to advocate a piece of legislation," said Regent Richard Blum. "We ought to take a hard look at it and make a decision on our own to endorse this."

During the public comment portion of the meeting, union employees shouted "open the books" and demanded that the UC system be more transparent with its financial records to prove furloughs and deep cuts are necessary.

Yudof responded by saying that the UC system's audited financial records are readily available online for those who need them.

"You have the numbers," he said. "Look at them, analyze them and I think you will reach some of these same conclusions."


Correction: Tuesday, February 9, 2010
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the UC furlough program would trim about a quarter off the UC system's $813 million deficit. In fact the program would make up about a quarter of a $813 million two-year reduction in state funding to the university.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Javier Panzar and Alexandra Wilcox at [email protected]

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