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UC regents panel approves furlough plan; vote by full board tomorrow

July 15, 2009 |  3:22 pm

Despite angry protests from labor unions, a University of California regents panel today approved an emergency plan requiring most faculty and staff to take 11 to 26 unpaid furlough days next school year because of cuts in state funding.


But university officials said the furloughs, if approved by the full board tomorrow, will be part of a wider retrenchment across the 10-campus UC system.  Administrators spoke of faculty hiring freezes, fewer course offerings, larger class sizes, reduced library hours and elimination of some programs.


The regents finance committee voted 11 to 1 for the furloughs, which would amount to pay cuts of 4% to 10% on a sliding scale depending on salary levels.  Only Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who is an ex officio regent, voted against the proposal, saying he wanted the regents to also include support for a new tax on oil and gas production that would be devoted to higher education funding.


More than 100 demonstrators from UC labor unions picketed outside the meeting at a UC San Francisco facility, and some later briefly interrupted the proceedings with chanting against the proposal. No arrests were made, police said.


As many as 140,000 of UC’s 180,000 employees could be affected by the furloughs, but about half of those are represented by unions that would have to agree to the cuts.   Some labor activists said they would resist the furloughs, at least until UC looked more seriously at tapping other potential revenue sources, such as endowment funds, to maintain salaries.


UC President Mark G. Yudof raised the possibility of layoffs if the unions don’t agree. “No one likes a pay cut but no one likes being laid off either. So you have to make some tough choices,” he said.


While they are not happy with the overall furlough proposal, many faculty and staff said it was an improvement over a previous plan that divided the work force into only two levels of salaries. And there was much relief that the proposal exempts from furloughs any UC teachers or staff whose salaries come fully from outside grants and research funds.


-- Larry Gordon in San Francisco