LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Amid ongoing labor negotiations, thousands of union workers and students held protests at University of California campuses across the state Thursday to demonstrate against what they call money mismanagement by UC administrators.
The protest, organized by the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2399, the largest UC employee union, is against what it calls “secret slush funds, executive pay raises and half-million dollar parachutes for disgraced ex-chancellors with tuition hikes for students and cuts for low-wage workers.”
Locally, the protests started at 11 a.m. at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, UC Irvine Medical Center and UC Riverside.
AFSCME has been in contract talks with the UC Office of the President over a new collective bargaining agreement since early last spring.
Meanwhile, the UC Board of Regents is considering another 2.7 percent tuition hike in May after implementing a 2.5 percent hike last year. It was the first such tuition hike since 2011. The California State University system is also considering a tuition hike of its own.
ASCME’s slush fund criticism is in reference to a 2017 state audit that uncovered $175 million in off-the-books money UC officials had set aside while pushing for tuition hikes and ever-increasing appropriations from the Legislature. UC President Janet Napolitano characterized the undeclared surplus as part of a reserve for contingencies and outlying expenditures.
The golden “parachutes” swipe was aimed at former UC President Mark Yudof, who received $546,000 in retirement pay and extras from the UC system in 2014 — a year after he stepped down. According to published reports, almost three dozen former UC employees each received more than $300,000 in pension benefits in 2016.
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