Union Workers Gather Outside Regents Meeting To Protest Controversial Appointee to the Board

Photo: David Crane
David Crane

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SAN FRANCISCO - About 20 union workers from the UC gathered outside the UC Board of Regents meeting Wednesday, protesting the board's proposal to increase pension payments as well as the appointment of David Crane to the board, after he wrote a controversial op-ed.

Crane - appointed in December by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but yet to be confirmed - wrote in a Feb. 27 op-ed to The San Francisco Chronicle that "Collective bargaining is a good thing when it's needed to equalize power, but when public employees already have that equality ... collective bargaining in the public sector serves to reduce benefits for citizens and to raise costs for taxpayers."

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, interpreted the op-ed to mean Crane is anti-union, and Yee organized statewide protests.

Crane denied that he disapproved of public sector collective bargaining, adding that this reaction has not changed his view supporting increased pension payments.

"I am a big fan of democracy," he said. "I think collective bargaining is a valuable right."

After some expressed discontent about pension payments during the meeting's public comment portion, union members left chanting "Union busting is disgusting" before picketing for about an hour outside.

Jeffrey Branner, a senior custodian at UCSF and member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, said they wanted to bring attention to their pay reductions, healthcare premium increases and Crane's perceived views on collective bargaining.

Crane said when people are promised pensions, the government must allocate funds at that time to meet those needs. Because the state is in a deficit, having workers contribute more into their pensions cuts costs, he said.

Some protesters said requiring more of their salary to be paid into pensions hurts those already earning little.

"It is not our university that is the problem, it is our leadership," Branner said. "I'm going to have to pick up a third job. I've already got two jobs, and then there's no quality time with my family."

Contact Rachel Banning-Lover and Amruta Trivedi at [email protected]

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