Regular Lounge readers should be well-versed by now in the University of California’s woes, since we covered it here, here, here, and here. Now the drama continues as professors gear up for a walkout during the first day of class at many campuses.
On July 16, the University of California Board of Regents:
approved a plan proposed by UC President Mark G. Yudof to enact systemwide furloughs as one of a set of actions to offset an anticipated $813 million reduction in support from the state general fund. . . . More than 108,000 full-time-equivalent positions out of a total of 135,000 are affected. Under the plan, UC faculty and staff will be required to take from 11 to 26 furlough days -- amounting to a salary reduction of 4 to 10 percent -- with higher earners being forced to take more furlough days and steeper pay cuts. The specific number of furlough days each employee will take is based on a sliding scale across seven pay bands, ranging from those who make under $40,000 to those who earn more than $240,000.
Now from The Sacramento Bee:
Some University of California professors are so peeved that UC's Office of the President has forbidden them from taking furloughs on teaching days that they're planning to walk out on their classes later this month. The date they've chosen - Sept. 24 - is the first day of class at several UC campuses, including UC Davis. . . .
The letter [available here] is signed by 16 professors, including four from UC Davis: English professors Nathan Brown, Joshua Clover and Parama Roy, and physics professor Richard T. Scalettar. Hundreds more UC professors have asked to add their names to the letter since it began circulating Monday, said Clover, who helped draft it.
The letter urges faculty at all UC campuses to suspend teaching on Sept. 24 unless the university administration meets three conditions, one of which is to allow professors to take furloughs on days they teach.
The AAUP “supports the system-wide walkout of all UC faculty. Such action, the AAUP believes, would send a clear message that disinvestment in colleges and universities reduces the quality of education and does harm to students, faculty, and the public interest.” (AAUP Statement here)
UPTE, representing over 10,000 University Professional and Technical Employees, will strike on 9/24 in solidarity with faculty: http://www.upte.org/publication-mm/2009-08-31.html.
Additional coverage in The Daily Californian.
James Hamilton, Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego, tells his whining colleagues to take a hike:
There are any number of things that happen in life that may not be as I would have wished. But one of my core principles is never to take that out on the students I am asked to teach.
If some of my colleagues perceive that they now have better opportunities than teaching at the University of California, I'd encourage them to resign so that they can take advantage of those opportunities.
If not, they need to stop whining and do their jobs.
And perhaps even be thankful that, unlike many other Americans, they still have one.
(HT: Rolfe Winkler)
Meanwhile, UCLA law prof Steve Bainbridge is not planning to walk out, but he is miffed. Professors are not allowed to cancel any classes, and the furloughs do not reduce committee, service, or research obligations. “So where exactly is my furlough time off?”
Adding additional insult to injury, while students are suffering from fewer and larger classes and faculty are taking a pay cut (in the face of higher taxes and health insurance costs), some at the top are getting richer:
Even as the University of California was cutting $800-million from its budget in July, leading to layoffs and pay cuts for many employees, the system's regents quietly approved pay raises for more than two dozen executives, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. System officials characterize the raises as necessary compensation for people taking on new duties, but faculty and employee representatives aren't buying it: They've been asked to do more for less pay, they say.
It's no wonder some of my colleagues are planning a walkout. I'm not much of one for strikes and protests. And I think I have an obligation to my students to show up for class as scheduled. But I also won't blame those who participate. It's enough to make one a raging populist.
Emotions are running high enough that UC staff, faculty and students have been voting on a statewide motion of “no confidence” in President Mark Yudof. Stay tuned to the Faculty Lounge when the drama returns – wherever academics are fighting, complaining, or misbehaving in a public setting, we’ll be there to follow it.
Update: Brian Leiter also has coverage here.
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