On August 20, the Vanguard reported on the continued audacity of the University of California, who announced that week that they will spend approximately 140 million dollars that was raised from increasing student tuition to give merit raises to thousands of faculty members and nonunion employees earning up to 200,000 dollars.
Ms. Crabill argues that there are factors that need to be considered as we review the plan to raise salaries of non-union staff – particularly at a time of economic crisis.
In July the UC Regents added a new fee hike of 9.6 percent, along with the 8 percent hike they already approved last year, and it will raise tuition to around $12,192 annually for UC Davis students.
As Mr. Yudof wrote to students at that time, “I want to emphasize that the regents and I made this painful decision only after the campuses and the Office of the President had absorbed as many cuts as possible without irreparably damaging the quality of the system.”
“One purpose of this pool is to give you a tool in your efforts to recruit and, most importantly, retain leading faculty members, who increasingly are being courted by competing institutions. As I have said on many occasions, University quality cannot be compromised, and our excellent professors and researchers are the fountainhead of that quality,” he wrote.
“Another purpose is to demonstrate to non-represented staff members that we understand and appreciate how hard they have worked, through difficult times, on behalf of the University and California,” Mr. Yudof wrote. “Fairness dictates that we take this step.”
He defended the policy, arguing that they have not received any increases in nearly four years, have taken pay cuts through the furlough programs, and “many are working longer hours as a result of budget-induced layoffs of their co-workers.”
He added, “It should be noted, as well, that most of our colleagues who are represented by unions, by virtue of existing, negotiated contracts, have received regular pay increases throughout this long-running fiscal crisis.”
Ms. Crabill acknowledges, “It is true that the UC Academic Senate Faculty as a group has not had raises since October 2007, and a case can be made that their salaries should be increased to keep up with similar institutions.”
But she quickly counters, “But faculty salaries are consistently misrepresented in news articles and by UC’s Office of the President.”
Instead she finds that the faculty have in fact received merit increases and/or promotions every two to four years during the economic downturn. This depends on their rank and is based on successful reviews. And she points out further, “Most every faculty member who goes through these reviews — and most do on schedule — is successful.”
Additionally she argues, “Only those faculty who are above scale — above the salary ladder, and who are few and far between — must wait four years between merit reviews.”
“Newer faculty, assistant professors and the lower three ranks of associate professor are required to go through the merit cycle every two years. Some faculty members choose to accelerate their merit/promotion cycles, and quite a number are successful at it,” Ms. Crabill adds.
“So faculty members have continued to receive increases and many have received significant raises during the last four years,” she points out. “In addition, many faculty have retention and/or off-scale salaries, not reflected in the salary scales, which they have continued to receive. And those who have grants can receive so-called summer salary.”
“Deans and chancellors seem to be able to find ways to increase the salaries of their staff and department managers,” she argues.
On the other hand, “Many union-represented staff make far less than $80,000 and many far less than $50,000, especially the service and clerical staff. The clerical staff, represented by CUE [Coalition of University Employees] and now Teamsters, hasn’t had a contract in several years, and it is a good bet that there will be no contract or raises for clerical employees until there are further layoffs.”
“These are hard times. Union-represented staff want to do their share to help keep costs low, but it is unfair to ask them to do so while consistently increasing the salaries of faculty and higher-paid staff,” she adds.
Therefore she concludes, “It is the UC students and the lower-paid staff who will bear the burden of the budget cuts. At UC, as is the case in corporate America, the richer get richer and the poorer can’t keep up because they are thrown crumbs in comparison.”
This provides further fuel to the fire. We have to question priorities.
In our “let them eat cake” commentary a few weeks ago, we argued that while President Yudof writes an apologetic letter to students, stating that he wanted to emphasize that he and the regents made this painful decision only after the absorption of as many cuts as possible without irreparably damaging the quality of the system, he doesn’t exactly feel their pain.
Here he is sitting there receiving over $800,000 in salary, surrounded by people who make half a million in salary, talking to parents who are worried about their children’s education as though he feels their pain.
Of course, Mr. Yudof would prefer to not have to raise tuition. It’s one thing to take a huge salary while raising everyone else’s costs, it is quite another to then turn around and take $140 million from student tuition – blood money – and give it to faculty members and staff who make up to $200,000.
I want to know how much is going to those making between $100,000 and $200,000, because those people are hurting a lot less than the students.
Sadly, Mr. Yudof took a bad and unfortunate situation, doing what he likely had no other choice but to do – raise tuition, then made the situation worse.
I just don’t get it. He can justify it all he wants by arguing that people will leave if they are not properly compensated – I don’t buy it for a second, not in this economy and this market – but what he fails to realize is that every time he raises tuition and then gives money to top executives, he makes it look like the university has more money than they are letting on.
That makes it easier for the legislature to cut money to education and tougher for the voters to sympathize when they do. In short, he is undermining the entire higher education system through his sheer arrogance and tone deafness.
—David M. Greenwald reporting