UC students, workers to protest fat executive pay

Union to picket, deploring huge top management pay, pensions

"They get golden handshakes when they retire, and we get cat food!" That will be the rallying cry tomorrow (Jan. 31) as University of California workers and students stage protests at UC medical facilities and all ten UC campuses. The demonstrations are sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Locally, the protests will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Thornton Hospital; 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the UCSD Medical Center-Hillcrest, and 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the UCSD campus.

The protesters point out that outgoing UC President Mark Yudof, after only five years of service, will retire with a $230,000 annual pension. Since 2002, in-state tuition in the UC system has more than tripled as the burden of supporting bloated pay and pensions shifts to students. UC will spend $400 million in retirement benefits for 140 UC top executives after they retire, says the AFSCME. But a new employee hired after this year, making an average $30,000 a year, will face a 110% pay cut after retiring with 20 years of service, says the union.


Certainly there's some pointy-headed academic who can dig up the information for us that graphs the cost of tuition in constant dollars since the opening of the UC system and track relevant corollary issues like "executive" (and professor, and other staff) pay, outsourced contracts, spending not directly related to the charter, and oh, yes, do an essay on the charter and any changes.

Twister: That graph would show tuition rising steadily from about zero, then zooming the last few years. All over the country, people are expressing concern about the soaring cost of higher education, and the concomitant rise of student debt. Padded payrolls and bureaucracies are certainly contributing to the problem. Best, Don Bauder

I've been seeing UC alumni publications for over four decades, and no matter what is going on, the UC cries poor-mouth. About 30 years ago, UC Santa Barbara told how they were starting new, tenure-track assistant profs at about $30K a year, and how they could barely afford to rent a decent apartment on that sort of salary, let alone purchase a home. Oh, a woeful story it was. But some years later, they stopped complaining about poor pay for faculty, and I wondered why. The why was that they came up with some way to substantially increase faculty starting salaries, and also to raise the top salaries greatly. Of course, they did that to insure their academic "excellence", and stay in the top tier of universities, which required matching salaries at other such campuses. Yeah, right. UC students have been remarkably apathetic about all this as it was going on, and especially at UCSD. Part of that may be due to the generally apolitical culture of Asians, who make up a large part of the UC student bodies. But part of it is just not knowing where to access the levers of power. When the money got tight for the UC, the proper reaction would have been to reduce starting salaries, give few or small boosts to existing employees, and closely scrutinize all new hires for real need. That's what a business would do. But that isn't what the public sector ever really does, and what it would prefer to avoid at all cost. No, instead of tightening the UC belt, the regents just kept "reluctantly" boosting tuition. For many students the UC is no longer any sort of bargain, and they are going elsewhere. The regents appointed by Pete Wilson voted no differently than those appointed by "Gray Hair" Davis, or by Ahnold, and I doubt the new Brown appointees will do anything differently either. They all seem to have a given about how to run that mega-school, and follow down the same groove that has been followed since the 50's and 60's.

Visduh: Great points. I, too, have wondered where those activist UC students of the 1960s have gone. Look at the crooks who have been regents, or officers, or the UC system the last few decades. Not a peep from the students, although the information about the bandits -- including some from San Diego -- was a matter of public record. Best, Don Bauder

Just as I presumed. So is the way to get clarity on where we are today to lay out the relevant facts from square one and identify when, why, by whom, and to whose benefit such changes accrued, or is there a better way?

Twister: I have to believe that the information you seek has been compiled and is available on the web. Best, Don Bauder

Yes, but exactly what does the charter say? Anybody got a link to it? Or is it locked up in some Sacramento safe?

Apathetic students are not to blame here. The Regents and the State of California have a fiduciary responsibility to faithfully fulfill the declarations of the charter.

Twister: Yes, but what does fiduciary duty mean these days? Best, Don Bauder

Yes, but what does fiduciary duty mean these days?

Not much

SP: Yes, it's pathetically true. The words "fiduciary duty" have little meaning today. Best, Don Bauder

The protesters point out that outgoing UC President Mark Yudof, after only five years of service, will retire with a $230,000 annual pension.

Another example of public sector pensions, even for the top US official, completely out of control.

SP: Agreed. Public sector pensions are out of control. Private sector pensions for CEOs and others at the top are even more out of control -- they are obscenity incarnate. Best, Don Bauder

Yes, but what does fiduciary duty mean these days?

For executives it means "Show me the money" (and who cares about anything or anyone else).

ImJustABill: Today, "fiduciary duty" means "show me the money so I can pocket some of it." Best, Don Bauder

I'm a Cal graduate who has had to watch UC decline for 50 years.

The #1 fact of life I have learned the hard way is that UC is a class system where academics consider themselves members of an elite social class. They enforce their elitism by isolating themselves from lower classes, like the rest of us, by enforcing a system of marginalization.

If you try and communicate with them (like we do with Don) you will find out that they believe only in one-way communication, so don't expect them communicate with the rest of us in what they consider to be the lower classes. Don would be a great role model for them.

What UC needs is a Dept. of Social Conscience, starting with tutorials for the professors, administrators and regents. Don should have the first professorship.

Jeez, don't you know that they ARE social elites? Once on the tenure track, they are accountable to no outsiders, and once they hold tenure, are not even accountable to their peers. Condescension is the rule of the day, week, month, year and lifetime. The main thing that really annoys this UC grad is the way research is elevated on a pedestal, whereas the educational mission, especially undergraduate education, is marginalized. My simplistic way of describing that is to say that if you ranked various functions of the university by their priority, undergrad classes would be 20th on a list of 20. One might think that in our nuclear family of mom, dad, and two offspring, with every one of us a UC grad, we would be huge fans of the system. Maybe one of us is, and the other three do not have generally fond memories of our time on campus.

Gosh, Anon, our great minds can actually agree sometimes. Who'd a thunk it?

Visduh: You have hit the nail on the head. Too many universities, particularly in the UC system, hold teaching in low regard while paying full attention to research dollars the profs bring in. Best, Don Bauder

Sorry about that Visduh, unfortunately as you also document, UC needs a cultural overhaul, but I think only someone with Don's expertise, experience and dedication fix it.

The best thing I got out of Cal was my wife, she made me the luckiest man on earth for over 50 years, but she had a much better GPA than I did. We are granddaughter sitting an infant and a toddler today, just took them to the zoo, and that truly is as good as it gets.

Anon: You are certainly lucky. My wife and I have been married more than 50 years and we have one grandson. We didn't meet in college. She went to Northwestern and I went to Wisconsin. Best, Don Bauder

Northwestern Law School, specifically it's library, fronts Lake Shore Drive, a block form the John Hancock building, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to do anything but lookout over Lake Shore Drive, stunning area.

SurfPup: The Northwestern law school is in downtown Chicago, in a very attractive area. The med school is in downtown Chicago, too. The main campus is in Evanston and is stunningly beautiful. Best, Don Bauder

Anon: There are some exceptions: UC's Robert Reich certainly has a social conscience. Best, Don Bauder

I agree Don, and if they add you that should be two people who can make the right things happen at last because I will bet that the two of year are flameproof enough to overcome their culture of failure.

I had at one time thought that it would take social scientists to do the job, but after years of communicating with marginalizers who won't talk to anyone outside their Ivory Tower, I have totally given up (well almost totally, babysitting my granddaughters motivates me at least once a week to keep trying because their future is at the top of my priority list along with my wife).

In fact one of the senior social science elitists who actually responded to one of my e-mails said that kind of effort on his part would be "above his pay scale" so even $200,000 a year won't motivate them to make any effort to save humanity.

Anon: To communicate with those in the Ivory Tower, you have to learn the lingo. That's especially true in the social sciences. Inscrutable argot obscures the fact that the subject matter, stripped of jargon, is really simple. Best, Don Bauder

Anon, for nearly a decade I've been receiving an annual "report" from one of the hard science departments (unnamed) at my UC alma mater (which I will not specify.) It brags (as do all the UC operations) about its research coups and feats, and mentions only in passing--if at all--its "output" of degree recipients. Whenever a new faculty member is hired they brag of his/her research accomplishments, never the teaching ability or record. I have challenged that department to try to make a difference in the education of students in that discipline at the high school level by encouraging its grads to go into teaching, and to support local teachers with students who might assist. The response I've received in none, nada, zilch. Year after year my letters to the department chair go into deep space. Even the editor of the piece, who must get them, never responds. Do I sent money to that campus? LOL If they made some attempt, however feeble, to respond and show that there is interest in "outreach" to the community I'd respond with financial support and with encouragement. But it never happens, and likely never will. Sadly, I never really expected anything better from their Ivory Tower minds and values, and so I'm not disappointed in them. But I am disheartened for the UC. It was supposed to serve the people of California, and now appears interested in serving itself.

Visduh: Usually such annual reports are part of a pitch for funds from alumni. Maybe your department's profs get so many grants that outside money is sneered at. Best, Don Bauder

I was right, you are the best man for the new position of Professor of Social Conscience.

I wonder if we can get Jerry Brown to create the position for you?

Anon: If nominated I shall not run, and if elected I shall not serve. Best, Don Bauder

Darn, this means our problems shall never be solved.

How about authoring a new version of the "Declaration of Independence" v.21C instead?

You can at least be the new John Adams, who along with his most wonderful wife Abigail, helped get America up and running in the first place even though he irked Jefferson, Franklin and Washington many, many times. We most desperately need a new John Adams today.

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