Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Union-Supported Bill on Brown's Desk Triggers Student Leader Opposition

There is a union-supported bill SB 376 on Gov. Brown's desk (which he could sign or veto) essentially requiring employees hired through outside contractors to be paid comparably to UC employees.*Various student leaders have now written an op ed urging a veto. Excerpt:

At its face, SB 376 is a bill about fairness — a bill which seeks to ensure the University of California administration doesn’t undercut the wages and benefits of full-time employees by contracting services to agencies with cheaper labor for comparable work. It requires that the University of California calculate wage and benefits it pays its full-time employees for this work, and provide the same package for contract workers. The students of the University of California, including those I represent at UCLA as its student body external vice president, largely identify with the principles informing this proposal. However, the passage of this otherwise well-intentioned provision implies the unraveling of victories earned for students after a year-long, hard-fought battle for state investment in the UC. An unfunded mandate, the bill gravely complicates the budget deal that Gov. Brown, UC President Napolitano, and students wove so painfully together. The provisions of that budget — frozen tuition and more funds to reach a difficult enrollment mandate of 5000 additional students — are entirely compromised by SB 376’s expected $60 million price tag. While none of us disagree with the principle of the bill, students simply cannot afford to shoulder the cost of the bill, which will fall to the only funds the UC has left to pay for it: our recent enrollment grant funds, and after the freeze ends in two years, our tuition...

In the case of SB 376, the Legislature’s call for fairness literally neglects to put its money where its mouth is. We will, without reservation, support this bill if the governor will fund the cost. Until then, we urge Gov. Brown to defend his budget deal and veto SB 376. 

Zachary Helder is UCLA External Vice President, Undergraduate Student Association. This commentary is co-sponsored by: Heather Rosen, UCLA President, Undergraduate Student Association; Jimmy Villareal, UCSB President, Undergraduate Student Association; Lewis Luartz, UCR President, Graduate Student Association; Dominick Suvonnasupa, UCSD President, Undergraduate Student Association; Krystl Fabella, UCSD External Vice President, Undergraduate Student Association.

Full op ed at

Note: As far as yours truly recalls, no opposition to the bill was expressed by student leaders at Regents meetings. There were union reps who generally supported equal pay for contractors during public comment sessions. Student regents did not react, pro or con, during those sessions or at other times.

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