UC workers to take furloughs

July 16, 2009 7:54:20 PM PDT
The University of California Board of Regents gave its stamp of approval to system-wide furloughs.

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Faculty and staff will now have to take between 11 and 26 furlough days a year without pay. Some outraged employees protested outside of President Mark Yudof's house.

A small group of employees gathered in front of the home. The message they want to convey is that the furloughs will have a devastating impact on education at the UC.

The vote by the full Board of Regents was expected, after the financial committee endorsed the furloughs on Wednesday. The furloughs are expected to save the UC system $184 million.

Yudof called them necessary in order to close a budget gap of $813 million.

"If we didn't have the furloughs, then I think that it would have been likely to consider laying off people," said Yudof.

Nearly 108,000 full-time faculty and staff will be affected.

"It seems inevitable. There isn't much I can do," said a UC employee.

But union employees have voiced their disapproval and have called for senior management to take an even greater pay cut.

Yudof and the UC chancellors have all taken a 10 percent pay cut. Before these cuts, Yudof's salary and compensation package was $828,000.

"I would say to the viewers when you go to the hospital and you are having surgery, do you simply go to the lounge area and say, 'Hey whose the cheapest surgeon in the room?" said Yudof.

Besides the furloughs, there will be campus-wide budget cuts and tuition increases. Others are concerned that all these budget cuts will harm UC's reputation as a leading institution of higher education.

"As faculty salaries are cut, certainly some very good faculty will have the opportunity to work elsewhere and I'm afraid some of them will take those opportunities," said UC Berkeley professor Art Reingold, MD.

On Thursday, the regents voted to study an Assembly bill that could bring more revenue to UC and other public colleges in California.

"This bill would impose a 9.9 percent tax on oil pumped from the ground in California and that money would then be used to support higher education. It's over a $1 billion," said Lt. Governor John Garamendi, D-Calif.

Currently, California has no gas severance tax. In Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin raised that specific tax to 25 percent and that bill in California is zero.

The bill is AB656 and it could mean more revenue for the UC system.

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