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News Update

UC unions contend layoffs can be avoided by tapping investment funds.

The University of California should spend more of its gigantic endowment funds and other investment reserves to avoid layoffs and educational cuts possibly triggered by a drop in state revenues related to the coronavirus pandemic, a coalition of employee labor unions urged Tuesday.

The ten-campus university and its five medical centers should tap the “overall strong financial standing and reserves to avoid austerity measures,” AFSCME 3299 research director Claudia Preparata said during an online presentation. UC could use several billion dollars from various funds if needed and possibly borrow more to cover the 10% reduction in state support recently proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to cover the large spending spike caused by the pandemic, she said.

AFSCME 3299 is the largest union in UC, representing 27,000 service workers, patient care technical workers, craftsmen and others. It was joined in the coalition statement by other unions, including those representing nurses, medical interns and residents and lecturers. The university has not announced any layoffs and the union is seen as trying to get ahead of any such move.

A statement released Tuesday from the UC’s president’s office said: “We will be happy to discuss with the union coalition their
presentation and claims once we have had an opportunity to carefully review them.” The UC system will assess possibly drawing on some of its capital resources or borrowing funds, the statement noted. Meanwhile, UC officials touted other austerity measures such as 10% pay cuts for the president and campus chancellors and salary freezes
for non- unionized staff.

The UC Regents are meeting this week to discuss, among other things, financial responses to the health emergency and the governor’s plan.