Thousands of University of California students, faculty and staff gathered in Berkeley today for one of many rallies held statewide to protest how the system’s Board of Regents has dealt with reductions in state funding.

A noontime rally brought more than 5,000 people to UC Berkeley’s Upper Sproul Plaza, according to Tanya Smith, president of the Berkeley chapter of the University Professional and Technical Employees-Communication Workers of America union Local 9119.

Among other protests in the state, hundreds of people also gathered at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, where state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, criticized how the UC system was being run.

The rallies were a response to recent moves by the UC Board of Regents, which approved a plan in July to institute employee furloughs along with other cuts and fee hikes. UC President Mark Yudof also announced this month a plan to increase student fees by another $2,514 over the next year.

Lisa Kermish, vice president of the entire UPTE-CWA Local 9119, said the Berkeley rally was the biggest she has seen in decades.

“What was incredible to me, and I use this word sparingly, was the solidarity of the students, the staff and faculty,” Kermish said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a real coming together for a common purpose. It was a pretty amazing gathering.”

Smith said representatives from several unions spoke at the rally, which included people from the California State University and community college systems.

“The message that came across at the rally is that we’re not going to stop at the University of California,” Smith said. “Public education is in jeopardy across the state and across the nation.”

A general assembly was also planned for 6 p.m. at Sproul Plaza.

In a teleconference with reporters today, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau defended the decisions made by the Board of Regents. He blamed bad economic conditions for the cutbacks and fee increases, and said the furloughs have helped to save hundreds of jobs.

Birgeneau also blamed state legislators who cut $813 million out of the UC budget for 2008-09 and 2009-10 compared to the general fund support for 2007-08.

He said he hopes that the rally “raises the consciousness of Californians so that they will vote for legislators that support public education.”

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  • Moravecglobal

    UC Layoffs, Furloughs Budget Cuts: $ 3 Million Extravagant Spending by President Yudof UCBerkeley Chancellor Birgeneau for Consultants – Work Can Be Done Internally.
    Save $3,000,000 . Do the work internally with the resources of the UCB Academic Senate Leadership (C. Kutz/ F. Doyle), the world class UCB faculty and staff, & UCB Chancellors blotted stable of staff (G. Breslauer, N. Brostrom, F. Yeary, P. Hoffman, C. Holmes etc) & President Yudof.
    President Yudof has a UCB Chancellor that should do the high paid work he is paid for instead of hiring an East Coast consulting firm to do the work of his job. World class smart executives like Chancellor Birgeneau need to do the analysis, hard work and make the difficult tough decisions to identify inefficiencies!
    Where do consulting firms like Bain ($3,000,000 consultants) get their recommendations?
    From interviewing the senior management that hired them and will be approving their monthly consultant fees and expense reports. Remember the nationally known auditing firm who said the right things and submitted recommendations that senior management wanted to hear and fooled government oversight agencies and the public? Impartial consultants never bite the hands (Birgeneau/Yeary) that feed them.
    Mr. Birgeneau’s performance management work accountabilities include “inspiring innovation and leading change.” This involves “defining outcomes, energizing others at all levels and ensuring continuing commitment.” Instead of demonstrating his leadership by fulfill the senior management work of his job, Mr. Birgeneau outsourced them. Doesn’t he engage University of California and University of California Berkeley (UCB) people at all levels to help examine the budget and recommend the necessary $150 million trims? Hasn’t he talked to Cornell and the University of North Carolina – which also hired Bain — about best practices and recommendations that might apply to UCB cuts?
    No wonder the faculty, staff, Senate & Assembly and Californians are angry and suspicious. Three million dollars is a high price for students and Californians to pay when a knowledgeable world-class UCB Chancellor and his bloated staff are not doing the work of their jobs.

  • Cal Cal

    LOYALTY IS DEAD UC BERKELEY CHANCELLOR BIRGENEAU, PROVOST BRESLEUR, VC YEARY ? SO GET USED TO IT Public universities like Cal are into a phase of creative disassembly where reinvention and adjustments are constant. Even solid world class institutions like the University of California Berkeley under the leadership of Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer are firing employees, staff, faculty and part-time lecturers through ?Operational Excellence (OE) initiative?: last year 600 were fired, this year 300. Yet many employees, professionals and faculty cling to old assumptions about one of the most critical relationship of all: the implied, unwritten contract between employer and employee.
    Until recently, loyalty was the cornerstone of that relationship. Employers promised work security and a steady progress up the hierarchy in return for employees fitting in, accepting lower wages, performing in prescribed ways and sticking around. Longevity was a sign of employer-employee relations; turnover was a sign of dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply today. Organizations can no longer guarantee employment and lifetime careers, even if they want to. UC Berkeley senior management paralyzed themselves with an attachment to ?success brings success? rather than ?success brings failure? and are now forced to break the implied contract with Cal employees ? a contract nurtured by management that the future can be controlled.
    Jettisoned Cal employees are finding that the hard won knowledge, skills and capabilities earned while being loyal are no longer valuable in the employment market place.
    What kind of a contract can employers and employees make with each other? The central idea is both simple and powerful: the job or position is a shared situation. Employers and employees face market and financial conditions together, and the longevity of the partnership depends on how well the for-profit or not-for-profit continues to meet the needs of customers and constituencies. Neither employer nor employee has a future obligation to the other. Organizations train people. Employees develop the kind of security they really need ? skills, knowledge and capabilities that enhance future employability.
    The partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor.
    Let there be light