For the second time this year, the University of California system has rejected the collective bargaining process and fought against the worker’s union to impose a cut in the salaries of many longtime workers. After over a year of debates and negotiations, the administrators in the University of California stated that cuts in pay and health benefits would be cut for over 8,000 service workers in the entire UC system.
Once again, budget cuts have made their way into the University of California’s annual budget, with the target this time being the lowest paid employees of the UC system. Those affected include the workers that are often ignored and taken for granted, such as custodians and maintenance. Many of these workers make an average of $35,000 annually, thus qualifying them for some form of financial help from the government.
Overall, the cut would be about a 1.5 percent decrease on worker salary and up to $124,000 increase in health cost over the course of a worker’s life, reporters from the LA Times say. However, these cuts are not in effect for everyone. In fact, many of the higher-paid employees are receiving an increase in their salaries.
According to Larry Gordon from the LA Times, “UC this week imposed terms that will require those workers to contribute 6.5% of their pay to retirement plans, up from the current 5%, while the university’s contribution jumps to 12% from 10%.”
The UC system claims that these cuts are needed in order to keep the UCs running effectively given the budget cuts. However, the proposed plan is very incomplete. The proposal states that there will be a four-year wage freeze on over 8,000 of the lowest paid employees. However, what is presented is not justified by the data that is shown.
“Taking from UC’s lowest paid, full time workers in order to line the pockets of UC Executives is not just an attack on collective bargaining — it’s an assault on basic morality,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger.
In addition, many are in favor of the union on the issue of health care because the proposal changes the eligibility requirements of many longtime employees. It is generally believed that new plans involving health care should be effective to new and future employees rather than those currently in the system. Paul Roose, Neutral Factfinder, says that the neutral panel chair recommends the union’s positioning when bargaining over retiree health benefits.
Although reports state that these terms are fair and necessary in guaranteeing quality benefits and an appealing pension, the loss of money in many of the current worker’s salary directly affects them now in that they face greater hardships in paying for present necessities, such as food, medicine, and childcare. With many of them already receiving financial aid on the federal level, these cuts could greatly impact their way of living for the worse.