Tens of thousands of University of California employees would be forced to take furloughs and lose pay under a plan proposed Friday to offset deep funding cuts to the 10-campus system.
UC President Mark Yudof proposed the furloughs for roughly 80 percent of the system's 180,000 employees as part of a broader plan to deal with an anticipated 20 percent reduction in state funding.
"There is no question that the cuts to come will hurt," Yudof said. "But we have worked hard to bring fairness to the process."
The UC Board of Regents is scheduled to discuss and vote on Yudof's plan when it meets in San Francisco next week. If approved, the furlough plan would go into effect Sept. 1.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature are proposing unprecedented cuts to state colleges and universities to help close a $26 billion budget deficit.
Many state offices were closed Friday after the governor imposed furloughs for many state employees, effectively cutting their pay by 14 percent. Some offices will close three days a month.
The governing board of the 23-campus California State University system is also considering a plan to furlough nearly all of its employees for two days a month to offset a 20 percent cut in state funding.
Yudof's furlough plan
Under Yudof's plan, UC employees would see pay reductions ranging from 4 percent to 10 percent, with higher paid workers taking bigger pay cuts and receiving more days off. Most furloughed employees would have flexibility in deciding when to take their days off.
The furlough plan would not apply to employees who receive funding from the federal government or other outside source or employees at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
UC officials would have to reach agreements on furloughs with unions that represent about 35 percent of university employees.
The University Professional and Technical Employees union, which represents more than 10,000 workers, issued a statement denouncing the furlough plan, saying UC should instead tap its reserves or find new ways to raise funds.
"For me, it's going to be devastating," said Elizabeth Wilks, an accountant at UC Santa Barbara who protested with other union members outside UC headquarters in downtown Oakland.
Tuition fees may also increase
If approved, the furloughs would offset about a quarter of an anticipated $813 million reduction in state funding. The remainder of the funding shortfall would be made up by refinancing debt, a previously approved 10 percent student fee increase and about $300 million in cuts at individual campuses.
UC campuses are already taking action to cut costs. More than 700 employees have been laid off, and most campuses are deferring at least half of planned faculty hires, UC officials said.
In addition, UC Irvine has halted admissions to its education doctoral program, the UC Davis Medical Center has eliminated its liver transplant program, and UC San Francisco is closing its poison control center.
"There will be real pain on every campus," Yudof said. "There is no way that we are going to be able to look every student in the eye and say the University of California will be the same as it was yesterday."
Yudof unveiled the furlough plan after several weeks of consultations with UC employee groups. He said his office received thousands of letters and e-mails after he released his initial proposals for possible furloughs and salary reductions last month.
Furloughs were preferred over straight salary cuts because they are temporary, preserve pension benefits and give employees extra time off, Yudof said.
Mary Croughan, a UC San Francisco professor who heads the UC Academic Senate, said the furloughs would make it more difficult for the university to retain and recruit faculty.
"We're going to have to really work hard to come up with creative means to retain our exceptional faculty that we have now and to look forward on how to recruit people so we don't fall further behind," Croughan said.
Russell Gould, new chairman of the Board of Regents, said he was launching a new commission to explore new revenue sources and UC's future.
"We can't keep limping along like this from budget cycle to budget cycle," Gould said.