Furlough plan takes effect systemwide
September 4, 2009
By Dateline staff and UC Office of the President
The University of California began its systemwide furlough program this week, with most UC employees sharing the pain of pay cuts to help offset the loss of more than a billion dollars in state support.
Under the furlough plan, formulated on the basis of suggestions from faculty and staff, unpaid days off are apportioned according to employee salary—the more you earn, the more days off you must take.
From Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2010, participating faculty and staff are required to take 11 to 26 furlough days.
At UC Davis, 11 furlough days will be the same for everyone—because administrators have decided to essentially shut the campus down on those days. Most of the closures will be around the Christmas-New Year’s break, and the others between winter and spring quarters, and between spring quarter and Summer Session I.
(The official campus closure plan, slightly revised from last week's version, is available online. The revisions do not change the 11 closure dates.)
Taking 11 to 26 days off will result in pay cuts of 4 percent to 10 percent. (See chart for the seven salary bands and the corresponding furlough days and pay cuts.)
Paychecks are being reduced an equal amount each month, regardless of when you take your furlough days, so that your pay stays constant. For people who are paid monthly, the reductions will take effect on checks that are due around Oct. 1; for employees who are paid biweekly, the reductions will begin with the first full pay period in September.
More than 100,000 of the university system's 180,000 employees are subject to the provisions of the furlough program. For about 70,000 union-represented employees, implementation of furloughs or alternative approaches is subject to individual contract agreements and collective bargaining.
"All of us—students, their families, others served by the university and UC leadership—owe the deepest gratitude to every faculty member and every staff employee participating in this painful but unfortunately necessary endeavor," said Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for systemwide human resources. "It's their commitment to the university's mission that will enable us to continue to strive for excellence and access to opportunity despite formidable financial challenges."
As part of the effort to make the furlough plan as fair and low-impact as possible, pension calculations will continue to be based on prefurlough salaries, accrual of vacation and sick leave will not be reduced, and health and welfare benefits will not be affected.
The Board of Regents voted July 16 to approve the furloughs. Savings are expected to cover approximately a quarter of an $813 million shortfall in state funding for 2008-09 and 2009-10, and previously approved student fee increases are covering another quarter. More than $300 million will come from campus cuts, resulting in fewer faculty, lecturers and staff; fewer programs, courses and student services; and larger class sizes. Further administrative cost controls and debt refinancing account for $100 million.
In addition, increases in utility costs, employee and retiree health benefits, student over-enrollment and other expenses not funded by the state add up to more than $330 million, bringing the total state funding gap to more than $1 billion.
The furlough plan does not take in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory staff, the majority of health and safety workers, foreign nationals working with H visas, and academic and staff employees whose pay is funded entirely by research or extramural funds such as government and private contracts and grants.
Also excluded are employees who have volunteered for reduced hours under the START program, provided their pay reduction is equal to or greater than what it would be under the furlough program. Employees with contracts that cannot be changed unilaterally are also exempt, but have been asked for voluntary salary reductions consistent with their pay bands.
To protect patient safety, the five UC medical centers are exempt from the furlough plan, on the condition that they take cost-cutting measures that will save as much money as would have been saved through furloughs. The cost-cutting measures include elimination of vacant positions, planned attrition, layoffs, management of overtime pay, program closures and voluntary separation.
In addition, the medical centers are reducing the use of contract and temporary labor, eliminating some pay increases—except those required by contract—and reducing salaries for senior management.
Similarly, discussions are under way with union representatives about how their membership can contribute equally to systemwide budget savings, if not through furloughs, then by other measures.
All UC campuses have been developing cost-cutting measures for some time, Duckett said, and their approaches to achieving salary savings in lieu of furloughs could range from reductions in hours worked to layoffs.
"We hope union leadership will allow their members to participate in the furlough program and share in these sacrifices by the lowest-impact means possible," Duckett said.
Two small unions already have come to agreement with the UC system.
• International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501, representing about 100 employees at UC Riverside—In a deal announced last week, salary increases will go forward as scheduled on Oct. 1, with the increases to be based on the employees' unreduced, prefurlough salaries. Then, the employees' pay willl be reduced by the applicable furlough rates.
• Federated University Police Officers Association, representing more than 250 campus police officers—As safety workers, they are exempt from furloughs, but the officers have agreed to forego any across-the-board wage increases or merit increases over the next two years, according to the deal announced last week. Also, in recognition of the fiscal environment, step and longevity increases during the next 12 months will be suspended, saving UC more than $800,000.
"Both the local union unit at UC Riverside and the university police officers association recognized the financial challenges facing the university," said Duckett, "and both stepped up in a spirit of partnership to do what's best for the entire UC community."
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