Dear UAW Local 2865 members,
Today Governor Jerry Brown proposed a budget that would cut nearly one and half billion dollars from higher education. The proposed cuts include $500 million each from the CSU and UC, and an additional $400 million from our community colleges.
It isn’t just higher education on the chopping block. The proposed budget would cut an additional $1.7 billion from Medi-Cal, slash $1.5 billion from welfare-to-work, and make draconian cuts to programs for AIDS patients, uninsured children, the elderly, and the developmentally disabled. The budget calls for across-the-board wage cuts for thousands of public employees, closure of state parks and public libraries and the siphoning of funds earmarked for poor children and the mentally ill.
Our local union has always fought against higher education cuts, alongside fellow employee, faculty and student organizations. We will continue that commitment. But it doesn’t make sense to call for restoring higher education funding at the expense of crucial, life-sustaining services or more pain for other public sector employees.
We need a comprehensive fix to California’s budget crisis. While the proposed budget does include measures to increase state revenue through closing some of the most egregious corporate tax loopholes, these proposals don’t go far enough. The governor is proposing a Special Election in June to extend temporary tax increases for five years. Approval of these extensions, already denounced by conservative leaders in Sacramento, would only help stave off further cuts. We need to make up lost ground in order to get California back on track.
Missing from the discussion are bold steps to increase revenue by requiring corporations and the richest Californians to pay their fair share. There are many proposals out there, from an oil severance tax to real property-tax reform, that should be put directly to the voters if lawmakers can’t bring themselves to fix the state without sticking it to working families, the disabled and the poor.
We also have to keep the UC’s feet to the fire. We agree with UC President Mark Yudof in saying that this is a sad day for California. However, the UC administration has shown time and again that its favored approach for absorbing cuts in state funding is to force students and employees to shoulder the burden.
At the top of the UC organization, executives pull in six-figure salaries. Not satisfied with that, some have even threatened to sue to be exempted from a $250,000 pension cap. This latest round of cuts cannot be an excuse for more unequal treatment and backwards priorities at the University of California.
Fighting back will take all of us pulling together, sharing ideas about how to be a part of the solution, and taking action to hold our representatives accountable to those who worked hard to elect them. As things move forward, we will keep you apprised of opportunities to increase your involvement in this struggle.
In solidarity, UAW Local 2865 Executive Board