U.C. Merced Furlough Plan affects 860 employees

Fresno, CA U.C. Merced faculty and staff members are trying to figure out how to cope with furloughs that will cut salaries by four to ten percent.

Annette Garcia, U.C. Merced Staff Member said, "I don't know where I'm going to cut because right now I'm just barely covering my costs. So my husband and I just have to look at our budget and probably start trimming back on all of the luxuries."

The plan approved by the U.C. Regents Finance Committee today sparked outrage during the meeting in San Francisco.

Mary Higgins, U.C. Employee said, "It is absolutely stupid and amazing that you guys who've destroyed the economy of this country are now destroying the university and you think you're so smart"

But those we spoke with on the Merced Campus say the cuts could have been worse under previous proposals, and they believe their voices were heard.

Patti Waid Istas, U.C. Merced Spokesperson said, "I think the U.C. office of the President has been very good at consulting with employees throughout the system to get their input, and now this plan incorporates quite a bit of the employees input."

The plan uses a sliding scale that bases pay cuts on the employee's salary. The higher the salary, the higher the number of required furlough days, with a maximum of 26. The proposal prevents lay-offs, but administrators on this young campus say it could affect student services.

Charles Nies, U.C. Merced Assoc. Vice Chancellor said, "We've talked about the impact a furlough could have on smaller departments. Some of our units have one person, so if that one person is furloughed, you have no one there."

Spokesperson Patti Waid Istas said the plan allows for flexibility as to when furlough days are taken, so supervisors will work to minimize the impact on students. But employees are concerned the cuts may keep coming.

"They said this is going to be for one year. I think most of us expect that this will last more than one year and that it will possibly have to be increased in future years. So i don't think it's going to be quick or temporary."

The full board of regents is expected to approve the committee's decision Thursday. U.C. Merced is planning to hold a town hall meeting on Friday to answer employee's questions and discuss more details about how the furloughs will be implemented.

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