Yee plans to block Crane’s UC Regents Confirmation

San Francisco Bay Guardian, 3/2/11.

Citing UC Regent David Crane [1]’s op-ed in the Chronicle, in which Crane questioned if public sector workers should have collective bargaining rights, Sen. Leland Yee says he wants to stop Crane’s UC Regents confirmation and protect the vital services provided in our communities by public employees.”

In his op-ed, Crane argues that “collective bargaining for public employees in California changed the balance of power and – most importantly – gave public employees power over their compensation and benefits.”

But Yee, who is running in the San Francisco mayor’s race this fall, counters that the only public employees at the UC that have any real power over their compensation are the top executives.

“The Regents consistently cater to the elite and ignore their unionized workers – nurses, janitors, technicians, bus drivers, teaching assistants, and others,” Yee stated. “Collective bargaining is vital in addressing this disparity and fighting the unconscionable acts of UC administrators.”

Crane, who identifies as a Democrat, was an adviser to Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed him to the Board of Regents during his final days as governor. And Crane awaits final confirmation to the Board of Regents by the Senate.

But Sen. Yee and a bunch of community members and public employees hope to block Crane’s confirmation, starting with a noontime rally in San Francisco on Friday, March 4, at UC’s Medical Center at 513 Parnassus Avenue.

“UC Regent David Crane recently took his cue from Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and called for an end to collective bargaining rights for California’s teachers, nurses, firefighters, university employees, and other public sector workers,” Yee stated in a press release. “While the Regents approve million dollar contracts for their top administrators, David Crane wants to take away the rights of working class families. It is time for Regent Crane to put away his Wisconsin playbook and come down from his ivory tower.”

“While the Regents have approved million dollar contracts for their top administrators, they allow many UC workers and their families to live in poverty,” Yee continued. “Now, Regent Crane wants to take away their only avenue to earning a livable wage and a respectable retirement – their collective bargaining rights.”

Yee notes that UC service workers wages’ can be as low as $13 an hour. That 96 percent of these workers are income eligible for at least one of the following public assistance programs: food stamps, WIC (women, infants, and children), public housing subsidies, and reduced lunch. That many work two or three jobs to meet their families’ basic needs.  And that all this is happening against a backdrop in which the UC Board of Regents has consistently provided double-figure raises to their top administrators.

Yee cites the “retention salary adjustment” for UCLA Medical Center CEO David Feinberg, whose salary was recently increased by an additional $160,300 per year to $900,000.  The Regents also voted to award Feinberg an additional $250,000 annual retention bonus. And if you add in his annual Medical Center incentive payment, Feinberg’s annual compensation is more than $1. 3 million. UC President Mark Yudof also pulls in over a million annually, when salary, housing, and benefits are factored in.

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