UC regents approve furlough plan; standoff foreseen with unions


 Mark Yudof, president of the University of California Board of Regents, hosted a multi-day meeting at the San Francisco medical campus. Photo by Christi Morales/The Public Press.

In a 20-1 vote, the University of California Board of Regents decided Thursday to move forward with a contentious furlough plan that will affect more than 108,000 employees, setting the stage for a standoff between UC officials and labor unions.

Beginning Sept. 1, UC faculty and staff members will have to take 11 to 26 days off a year, depending on their salary level, which amounts to pay cuts ranging from 4 percent to 10 percent. Those making $40,000 or less will have to take 11 furlough days, with the number of days off increasing for those with higher salaries.  

The plan is expected to create $184 million in savings for the 10-campus university system, which is saddled with an $813 million deficit.

UC President Mark Yudof must negotiate with the unions in order to implement the furloughs for represented employees, whose contracts fall under collective bargaining agreements. Some lab and student employees, as well as others paid through grants, are exempt from the plan.  

Jeff Myers, vice president of patient care for AFSCME Local 1399 and a UC San Francisco surgical technician, said he’s disappointed by the outcome, but not surprised.

“It’s a slap in the face,” Myers said. “We had a lot of people who gave testimonies against this plan — faculty, students, workers — during yesterday’s meetings, but [Yudof’s] determined to do what he wants to.”

While it’s too soon to say what the unions will do, he said, “there could be legal action” involved.  

“People are not going to just take this lying down,” Myers added.   

He explained that a broad coalition of union leaders plan to meet in the coming days to discuss the next move. Among the unions in the coalition are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Coalition of University Employees and the University of Professional and Technical Employees.

In closing the UC Regents’ three-day meeting at UCSF Mission Bay, Yudof warned that if the unions resist the plan, layoffs could follow.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff aren’t the only ones who will feel the pinch. UC students could be in for another fee hike. In addition to the 9.3 percent raise this fall, Yudof said it’s likely there will be another fee increase by January.    

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