News Report on Internal UC Audit Reveals Wage Policy Shame

October 23, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 23, 2017
CONTACT: John de los Angeles, 650-438-1961, comms@afscme3299.org

University of California Isn’t Enforcing Its Own Minimum Wage Rules

(OAKLAND, CA) – A blockbuster report in today’s San Jose Mercury News has revealed that the University of California is failing to enforce the minimum wage policy it released to much “fanfare” in 2015. The report was compiled based on a review of internal campus audits related to vendor compliance with the University’s Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan (FW/FW), which affects thousands of low wage contract workers.

“A review of audits and pay documents by this news organization indicates that the system is doing a poor job of monitoring compliance with Napolitano’s feel-good [minimum wage] edict–and that at least some workers continue to make far less,” notes the San Jose Mercury News. “This news organization reviewed internal audits from all 10 campuses and found evidence of problems at each one.”

The report on UC’s internal wage audits raises more disturbing questions about the University’s spending priorities and commitment to its core public mission. A string of investigations earlier this year uncovered a secret $175 million slush fund, unjustified outsourcing of UC jobs, a payroll system that is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget, oversized payouts to executives and disgraced ex-chancellors, and interference with a state audit by the UC office of the President.

“With each new scandal, UC administrators appear to have embraced the distorted priorities that are eroding trust in our public institutions, and the persistent income inequality that plagues our country,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger.

Over the last three years, media reports have repeatedly chronicled the treatment of service contractors at UC. Employed by private firms, the workers are primarily immigrants and people of color. Many have worked at UC on a full-time basis for years, but received just a fraction of the wages of UC employees performing the same jobs. Both current and prior investigations have revealed them being paid under multiple names to avoid overtime laws, facing arbitrary wage cuts and employer retaliation, and other abuses.

Faced with mounting scrutiny over these abuses, UC enacted the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan in 2015, promising a system-wide $15 minimum wage by 2017 with robust internal enforcement to ensure compliance. In addition to the campus compliance problems, the Mercury News noted that even UC’s wage enforcement hotline was outsourced to a contractor that doesn’t comply with the policy. In responding to today’s story, UC’s own spokespeople acknowledged that its “fair wage/fair work” plan also includes massive loopholes that exclude many of UC’s most vulnerable low-wage workers.

“It’s clear that past news reports of contractor abuse at UC are part of a systemic pattern,” added Lybarger. “UC’s minimum wage policy was clearly a public relations ploy aimed at enabling more outsourcing and denying contract workers the standards of fairness and equality that UC routinely professes to teach in the classroom.”

Last modified: October 27, 2017

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