protest-crap.jpgUniversity of California workers, students and faculty gathered this morning outside the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco to protest proposed changes to retirement benefits.

Tanya Smith, a retired editor at the Archaeological Research Facility at UC Berkeley, said there were more than 100 protesters outside the meeting room at the UCSF Mission Bay campus who were waiting for the public comment portion of the meeting to begin sometime around 10 a.m.

“There’s a lot of people here and we’re pretty loud,” Smith said.

The group planned to speak during the public comment period against the proposed changes, which Smith said equates to “stealing from the poor to give more to the rich.”

Protest organizers say the changes, proposed in a report by the UC Post-Employment Benefit Task Force earlier this month, would decrease retirement benefits for ordinary workers while increasing the pensions of university executives.

“People stay for the benefits, so (if the changes go into effect) you’re going to see a lot of turnover,” Smith said. “It’s going to be the Walmart of public education.”

UC spokeswoman Leslie Sepuka said “this is the very beginning of the conversation” about changes to the retirement benefits.

“What we agree on is that something needs to be done,” Sepuka said. “There’s no final answer for how this plan will be reformed.”

Julian Posadas, a food service worker at UC Santa Cruz and the executive vice president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, said the “lowest-paid workers have been excluded from every level of discussion” on the issue.

“We feel that a worker should have a right to work with the university on how employee benefits would work out,” Posadas said.

Sepuka said the university is seeking comments from employees on the proposal.

“We do want input,” she said. “We will have lots of open forums on this, and e-mail addresses and websites for people to communicate about it.”

A UC Web Town Hall on the retirement benefits issue is scheduled for Sept. 24.

Information about the town hall, as well as a link to post a comment or ask a question about the issue is available at http://universityofcalifornia.edu/sites/ucrpfuture.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • Cal Cal

    UC Berkeley workers,students, faculty fall victim to UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau. A legacy of waste in UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office: easily grasped by the public, lost on University of California’s President Yudof.
    The UC Berkley budget gap has grown to $150 million, & still the Chancellor is spending money that isn’t there on $3,000,000 consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the consultants “thinking, expertise, & new knowledge”.
    Does this mean that the faculty & management of UC Berkeley – flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world – lack the knowledge, integrity, impartiality, innovation, skills to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years?
    The consultants will glean their recommendations from faculty interviews & the senior management that hired them; yet $ 150 million of inefficiencies and solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor & Provost Breslauer were doing the work of their jobs (This simple point is lost on UC’s leadership).
    The victims of this folly are Faculty and Students. $ 3 million consultant fees would be far better spent on students & faculty.
    There can be only one conclusion as to why inefficiencies & solutions have not been forthcoming from faculty & staff: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility & the trust of the faculty & Academic Senate leadership (C. Kutz, F. Doyle). Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants’ recommendations – disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy – the underlying problem of lost credibility & trust will remain. (Context: greatest recession in modern times)
    Contact your representatives in Sacramento: tell them of the hefty self-serving $’s being spent by UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer.
    Let there be light!

  • Cal Cal

    UC Berkeley workers,students, faculty fall victim to UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau. A legacy of waste in UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office: easily grasped by the public, lost on University of California’s President Yudof.
    The UC Berkley budget gap has grown to $150 million, & still the Chancellor is spending money that isn’t there on $3,000,000 consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the consultants “thinking, expertise, & new knowledge”.
    Does this mean that the faculty & management of UC Berkeley – flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world – lack the knowledge, integrity, impartiality, innovation, skills to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years?
    The consultants will glean their recommendations from faculty interviews & the senior management that hired them; yet $ 150 million of inefficiencies and solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor & Provost Breslauer were doing the work of their jobs (This simple point is lost on UC’s leadership).
    The victims of this folly are Faculty and Students. $ 3 million consultant fees would be far better spent on students & faculty.
    There can be only one conclusion as to why inefficiencies & solutions have not been forthcoming from faculty & staff: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility & the trust of the faculty & Academic Senate leadership (C. Kutz, F. Doyle). Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants’ recommendations – disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy – the underlying problem of lost credibility & trust will remain. (Context: greatest recession in modern times)
    Contact your representatives in Sacramento: tell them of the hefty self-serving $’s being spent by UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer.
    Let there be light!