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Save UC-Based Labor Research & Education: Organization Sign-On Letter

By noon this Thursday, May 16, please add your organization to our sign-on letter asking California electeds to stop the cuts to the state’s $13 million in funding for UC labor research and education, which currently supports all nine UC labor centers.

Re: Opposition to Proposed Cuts to University of California Labor Centers, Research, and Education  

Dear Honorable Electeds:

We write to oppose the proposed cut of all $13 million in recurring annual funding for labor centers, research, and education at the University of California. The future of our state’s economic well-being depends on this historic investment in economic research and labor education. 

Refined, proactive economic and industry forecasting, cutting-edge labor standards research, career pipelines for young people, and new workforce development initiatives should come from public institutions. Low-road approaches to economic development such as subcontracting, temporary, and gig work have boosted profits, but lowered wages and reduced workers’ economic security and bargaining power. There is increased worker exposure to critical and emerging health and safety hazards such as heat, wildfire smoke, infectious disease and workplace violence. It is no coincidence that we face historic wealth and housing inequity. These challenges demand evidence-based policy solutions that center working people. 

Labor centers and the labor safety and health programs boast distinguished track records of research excellence, deep community engagement, and careful financial management that include: 

  • Black Worker Centers;
  • Minimum wage increases and labor standards enforcement; 
  • California’s Secure Choice retirement program;
  • A Jobs and Climate Action Plan for 2030; 
  • High Road Training Partnerships;
  • Expanded Medi-Cal to all Californians regardless of immigration status;
  • Expanded California Earned Income Tax Credit for undocumented immigrant worker households;
  • Research support for passage of cutting edge occupational safety and health protections; and 
  • The California Dream Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The COVID-19 pandemic amplified long-standing income and employment disparities for Black, Latinx, low-wage, immigrant, and women workers. The $13 million augmentation supported established institutes, including labor centers at UC Berkeley, UC Merced, and UCLA at $3 million each, and $1 million to UCLA’s Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program and UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program. The final $3 million created new programs at UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, and UC Davis.

Since the augmentation, the nine UC labor centers have hired new directors and staff, secured space and facilities on campuses, and are providing data and technical assistance to support policies related to agriculture, fast food, garment, nail salon, domestic, health care, and other rapidly-growing sectors that cannot be outsourced. They have published research critical to the California Worker Outreach Project.

Massive shifts in automation, lithium mining, goods movement, and agriculture threaten to dramatically alter California’s employment sector. University of California labor research and education supports 21st century economic policy in the Inland Empire, the Sacramento region, the Santa Cruz/Monterey region, the Central Coast, San Diego, Orange County and all of California in partnership with our UC campuses. Legislation requires fact-based analysis from public universities on the ground.

These proposed cuts to UC labor research and education threaten to dismantle years of investment and institutional knowledge that cannot be easily rebuilt. The labor centers have become a pivotal resource providing evidence-based analysis and counsel that state legislators across California rely upon to craft sound workforce and economic policies. Numerous ongoing research projects and collaborations with various state agencies, including but not limited to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, as well as city and county agencies, will be impacted. The labor centers serve as a leading voice underpinning workplace standards, sector development strategies, equity initiatives, and myriad other efforts that promote economic opportunity and protections for California’s workers. We urge you to sustain this modest but impactful allocation so the University of California can continue fulfilling its obligation to uplift all Californians through path-breaking labor research and education.

Sincerely,

[Organization Names: Sign this letter on behalf of your organization here.]

This letter will be sent to: Governor Gavin Newsom, President pro Tempore Mike McGuire, Speaker Robert Rivas, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Assemblymember David Alvarez, Senator Scott Weiner, Senator John Laird, Senator Aisha Wahab, and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva.