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Union employees at the University of California gave an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the leadership of UC President Mark Yudof, election organizers said Thursday.
The UC union coalition would not disclose how many people out of their 60,000 members actually voted. But Sanjay Garla, coalition member and organizer of AFSCME 3299, said out of those who did vote, 96 percent cast a ballot of “no confidence” in Yudof at polling stations across the 10-campus system.
The union coalition, which represents UC employees, includes the American Federation of Teachers, Coalition of University Employees, University Professional and Technical Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
While the election was merely symbolic, it’s a reflection of the anger that many of the unions harbor against Yudof and the policies he created to decrease the system’s $813 million budget deficit.
One of the most contentious policies is the recently implemented system-wide furlough program -- where employees have to take 11 to 26 unpaid days, which amounts to a 4 percent to 10 percent pay cut. The higher the pay, the more days an employee takes off.
“California deserves university leadership working to maintain the UC mission during these tough times, not destroy it,” Lakesha Harrison, a UCLA licensed vocational nurse and president of AFSCME 3299, said in a press release. “Yudof’s plan instructs campuses to make the cuts visible by eliminating classes, laying off workers, increasing class sizes and making it harder for students to graduate on time. This is unacceptable.
“Meanwhile President Yudof and the Regents continue to raise the pay of top bureaucrats, while they claim there is no money,” she added.
The UC administration, which has accused the union of spreading misinformation in the past, issued a statement in response to the election.
“The no-confidence vote is just another example of the antics choreographed by union leaders who refuse to accept the reality that everyone else in the University of California system is sharing the pain of cuts triggered by the state fiscal crisis,” said Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for system-wide human resources.
Yudof is still locked in negotiations with several of the unions -- including the Coalition of University Employees and the University Professional and Technical Employees -- over the furlough program.
AFSCME leaders said Yudof cannot legally furlough its members, since this was not part of the contracts negotiated and signed this past school year.
At the Board of Regents meeting in July, UC officials warned that union resistance to the furloughs would force unnecessary layoffs.
“Union members may start to ask themselves what level of confidence they have in leaders who have led them to the brink of unnecessary layoffs when a fair, far less painful alternative has been set forth by the university,” said Duckett.
Although union leaders were barred from entering Yudof’s office in Oakland to deliver the voting results Thursday, AFSCME’s Garla said the coalition is not giving up and plans to announce the results at the Regents’ meeting on Sept. 16-17 at the UCSF Mission Bay campus.
Christi Morales began her journalism career at ABS-CBN International's The Filipino Channel in 2003 - at first as a freelance TV newswriter and eventually transitioned to full-time general assignment reporter. In 2006, she won the American Heart Association's 'C. Everett Koop M.D. Media Award' for best medical feature. After leaving her full-time reporting position in May 2007, she's been freelancing ever since as a writer and reporter. Her work has appeared in other online media including AOL's Patch.com, shades Magazine, BBN3 Network, eHow.com and BBonline. In addition, she is a fellow at the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism.
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