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In the Void

blog_slugUC workers gather to show distrust and disapproval of recently proposed UC pension plan changesIn another example of protest against the financial decisions made by UC Regents, on Thursday, Oct. 14, UC workers converged at UC Santa Cruz to express their disapproval of new retirement budget proposals by symbolically “voiding” them.

The discrepancy between proposed benefits for UC officials and low-wage workers prompted the demonstration, which occurred in Kerr Hall, one of UC Santa Cruz’s administrative centers. Several weeks ago, a panel of UC officials appointed by UC President Mark Yudof released a set of pension reform proposals that would restructure employee retirement benefits. If these proposals are enacted, the retirement benefits received by UC officials would remain intact or increase, while pensions for employees in the service sector (custodians, shuttle drivers, and food service workers, for example) could be decreased by more than 50 percent.

The proposals incited indignation among workers, who already receive a fraction of the benefits enjoyed by UC executives. Yolanda Lopez, a senior custodian at UCSC, expressed her concerns about the proposals in the press release for the demonstration. “I am barely going to survive on the $1,500 per month plus social security that I will receive under the current pension plan,” she said. “I don’t know how a family would pay rent, let alone pay for other necessities on less than half that.”

To express their discontent, the gathered workers marked a large check as “void.” In addition to voicing grievances about these pending pension cuts, they discussed recently announced changes to UC employee healthcare that could require workers to pay 50 percent more for health coverage.

This demonstration is not the first recent display of apprehension and disappointment with UC officials’ decisions. 2010 has been a year of UC-wide protests and demonstrations over fee increases and cutbacks. The legitimacy of official decisions has also come under question; an eight part investigative article by Peter Byrne shines a light on executives’ ties with the corporate world and suggests that there are many “conflicts of interests” that cloud the ethics of their decision-making.

The maintenance of executive pension plans at the expense of workers’ plans added more fuel to the fire for the demonstration. “Retirement funds should be used to make sure that dedicated service providers are able to retire with dignity and without public assistance,” according to Julian Posadas, UC Food Service Worker and Vice President of AFSCME Local 3299, in the press release. “It is clear that we need to properly fund retirement benefits and cut exorbitant and excessive retirement perks for executives.”


To read Byrne’s investigative reports, visit: spot.us/stories/544-the-investors-club-how-the-university-of-california-regents-spin-public-money-into-private-profit

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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