Op-Ed: As a UC professor, I support the strikers. Our schools shouldn’t have let it come to this.
A lot has changed in just a few short years for the University of California faculty, but it’s far from clear what will replace the old model of professor salaries. To help make sense of what’s happened, I wrote a guest post for the New York Times.
What’s been happening at UC: A decade of dramatic change
The University of California, my alma mater, took a big hit when the new, more progressive state legislature passed its landmark “Fair Pay and Safe Work” law. That law, which affects faculty, staff, and administrators, requires that certain campus workers receive a minimum of $12,000 a year for their work and creates new standards for employer contributions to pensions.
The new law was a major surprise to the faculty, who’d assumed that they’d have little to fear from it. The faculty felt the law was much too mild in comparison to the recent faculty activism. It didn’t allow them the leverage they needed to push for a higher minimum salary and require that UC make the money it now collected from the state directly contribute to their pensions.
That’s why those who have been most affected by the pay and pension laws have become so frustrated. “I would love this to be a fair deal,” said professor of political science Jennifer Cohen, a member of the UC Faculty Association who had been working on a bill to strengthen pay and pension requirements. “But they have not, and this is a problem.”
A UC professor gets a salary of $180,000, and she’s only on the tenure track. As a professor at UC, she can only teach a maximum of seven courses in a semester. This is the system today, and it’s the system I want to change.