Vote of No Significance

University Issues: The grievances of union members against the university are justified, but their chosen means are just unproductive.

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This week, unions representing UC workers began to open polls on all 10 campuses to cast a "vote of no confidence" on President Mark Yudof. Certainly, the furloughs and other unfortunate side effects of the unprecedented budget cuts have aroused justified frustration among employees. However, staging such a massive publicity stunt feels more like a political ploy than a passionate protest.

Many of the unions have long-held grievances against the UC administration-a hostility exacerbated by the notorious executive compensation scandals of years past. But though the unions' cause may be legitimate, their means are not.

For most of his tenure as UC President, Yudof has made a conscientious effort to resurrect the office's tarnished reputation, increase transparency and garner feedback on many major developments. Despite a few well-publicized exceptions, the unions' allegation that administrators and staff are not carrying their fair share of the furlough burden is unfounded-UC staff face furloughs which would decrease their yearly salary by a larger percentage than many lower-paid service employees.

Uproar by the unions over raises for top administrators is understandable, but the nurses' and service workers'unions both accepted university contracts last semester which included wage increases as well.

Undoubtedly, the plight of underpaid workers deserves the attention of students and taxpayers, but it's equally possible to raise awareness through less hostile and dramatic means. Moreover, many Californians are well-informed about the effects of budget cuts, due in no small part to efforts by campus and university administrators to keep the budgeting process as open as possible.

Debate over how to distribute budget cuts is, of course, necessary and beneficial to all university stakeholders. But by publicly declaring their lack of trust in the university's leader, the unions are not only acting unproductively, they've become a roadblock in these important discussions and have lowered the quality of debate by advancing a PR campaign instead of the interests of the university as a whole.






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