Student Reports on SJSU Layoff

April 30, 2010

From Bob Rucker
New Postings Online at CNN i-Reports
By Bob Rucker’s Journalism 163 class

Below is a synopsis of the special news coverage of the unprecedented staff layoffs and transfer orders at San Jose State University by advanced SJSU broadcast journalism students:

Staff Layoffs & Transfers reported by Marissa Lovus. (Advancer)

This video news feature sets the stage for a huge campus protest and rally over recently announced staff and tech layoffs by SJSU administration. Moral is threatened as people react emotionally to the orders which in some case makes little sense to people who have many years of service, training and expertise. A staffer in the School of Nursing tearfully prepares to face saying goodbye to friends and co-workers as she get ready to move to a new position on campus in mid summer.

Multimedia Self Narrative: SJSU Outrage Over Staff Layoffs/Transfers
An angry and worried staff person on campus approaches a student media reporting team demanding to be heard. She was upset that workers in offices all across California’s oldest university campus were facing the most drastic job reduction order by university administrators. Media students and faculty, using only their cell phones with still photography cameras get natural sound audio and pictures of the veteran employee’s outrage, then briefly showcases the campus rally by staff union organizers where more than 200 showed up and marched.

CA Public Education Woes reported by Ejere Elekwachi

A popular California State University office secretary is brought to tears feeling like a mandated transfer to another SJSU department this summer is like going through divorce all over again.This month, the oldest California State University campus gave pink slips or marching papers to more than 70 staff members. This CNN iReport focuses on the story of Silvia La Rosa, a single woman raising a son, who says being transfered from her current job feels like losing the people she considers family. She’s so upset with state higher educational system, La Rosa plans to send her child to a private college next year.

Budget Cuts University Pharmacy, report by Rina Santoro.
Did you ever think budget cuts would force you to loose out on medication?  At San Jose State University many departments have been affected by layoffs and reassignments.  Pharmacist Patricia Jones is loosing her job and has to close down the school pharmacy in six months.  Students will be forced to get prescriptions somewhere else.

Jobs Layoffs Aftermath, report by Nessa Wright.

Mandated job cuts or transfers are inspiring growing fears and campuswide questions about how a major university can function with fewer staff and working piling up every day in the future? That’s what staffer Amy Freitag faces in the fall when she will be all alone in an office that serves between 600 and 800 degree students. Others on campus also don’t understand how SJSU administrators say publicly the campus is in deep financial distress, while at the same time the university continues to recruit and hire top level managers with good salaries.

Staff Diversity Questioned/Forced Layoffs reported by Jacob Amayo
An African-American former television news tech specialist, hired to support the needs of the campus radio/TV and photojournalism programs, will be transferred from that department to another one on campus this summer. Seniority rules enables Jessie Pickett to keep getting a paycheck and bump someone else with less time on cmapus. But administrators are uncertain about what department he’ll be moved to. Some wonder what sense does that make since the journalism department specifically hired him for his unique professional experiences and his diversity representation?

Erin Sterner reports on the CSU Union Protest Rally ( Event Coverage )
A loud and angry campus protest rally suggests the recent encouraging CNN Money report that unemployment is going down nationwide is not true on the west coast, California’s oldest public institution of higher education is going in the opposite direction.  With a statewide $584 million dollar budget deficit for 23 campuses, San Jose State University campus has now decided to layoff, transfer or outright eliminate 76 office staff and tech support jobs. For a school that feeds the local Silicon Valley workforce with more than 25,000 students, these drastic cutbacks raise serious concerns about the next school year and California’s commitment to diversity hiring.


Today is the day

April 29, 2010

Our Rally on layoffs is today. Tomorrow we will be talking one on one with our fellow workers who have been affected by the layoffs. Thank you to my union brothers and sisters who are coming to the aid of SJSU workers. Thanks also to all of you who went to Sacramento earlier this week to walk the halls of the capitol earlier this week to take our case directly to the lawmakers.

Rally on Thursday info!

April 28, 2010

Dennis Fox, the Chief steward of our staff union at SJSU, CSUEU Chapter 307, has sent this out to staff:

To mark the beginning of our fight and struggle with the SJSU administration, a march and rally has been organized. This is a call to action of all staff, faculty and students to show campus administrators that we will not give up without a fight. Vital support staff which not only help with the day-to-day operations of our campus but most importantly our students, are being let go all the while no management level positions have been eliminated. Please see the flier link, print it out and place it in a highly viewable area to show your support. Please make plans to attend and make a powerful statement as we stand together in unity and solidarity. UNION POWER!!!

More here:

  • Thursday, April 29, 2010, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (come when you can) Student Union Amphitheater
  • Flier Link [PDF Format]

Beware of FUD

April 28, 2010


Beware of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt
I will not give up or be defeated. I remain an optimist we can mitigate SJSU layoffs, saving precious staff jobs and essential services for students and faculty. I see nothing to gain through pessimism. I will not stop trying.

“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, perhaps the greatest president of the 20th century, was elected President of the United States during the Great Depression in 1932. In his inaugural address he warned Americans of the dangers of pessimism. On March 4, 1933 he said the great words shown above. His words still ring true today, “Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously.”

If we give up on our fellow workers who have been given layoff and reassignment we are embracing defeat. If we continue to be vigilant, and only if, are we given a chance at victory. If we quit we defeat ourselves. Let’s not do the work of those whose goal is to gut higher education and embrace ignorance as though it is a noble end.

We need to understand what we are fighting for, we are fighting for the jobs of our union sisters, brothers and through their retention and the continuation of their services; we are fighting for a quality education for our students and the greater goal of an educated citizenry for our country.

In my opinion that is something not only worth fighting for, but critical. If you quit you defeat yourself. The cause is too great to allow that to happen. The stakes are too high. We cannot afford pessimism.

NOTE –> These are my own personal opinions, views, information and perspectives regarding the labor movement in general and our local union, Chapter 307 of CSUEU, the California State University Employees Union at SJSU, San Jose State University, San Jose, California. This in NOT meant to represent the official union position on this or any other matter.

Reasons for concern over Google

April 27, 2010


As the state budget is tightening the CSU is looking for ways to save money. One of those ways appears to be outsourcing to supposedly free service providers. Various campuses in the CSU system are outsourcing, or planning to outsource soon employee and/or student e-mail to Google and/or Microsoft.

Reportedly the vendors are going to be doing this for free. But, is it really free? According to the editor of Wired Magazine, Chris Anderson, who also wrote the book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, “All forms of free boil down to shifting monies around…cross-subsidies.” In other words if they give something away, they have to be making money elsewhere off the free gift. Where are Google and Microsoft making money on this? That question has not been adequately answered as of yet.

The outsourcing also has other unanswered questions; like, what do we do if the plan fails? It is amazing for such a big plan to be executed without a back out plan. One of the basic principles of change management is the need to plan for the unexpected. This includes the need to provide back out if the plan fails and the need to define the criteria on which a decision to back out will be made. So, what is the back out plan? That question has not been adequately answered as of yet.

A mystery also surrounds the issue of displacement. San Jose State University has already outsourced its student e-mail to Microsoft and is in the process of outsourcing faculty and staff e-mail to Google. SJSU has recently announced the layoff of 73 staff members, 21 of these are from unit 9. SJSU Chief Information Officer William Maguire said in a meeting in early 2010, “100 techs at SJSU support e-mail.” If each of tech supports legacy e-mail ten percent of the time, on average, that is the equivalent of ten positions supporting e-mail. Few may actually be supporting e-mail 100 percent of the time; but when the work is contracted out and the positions are cut, it is hard to argue there is no impact.

The classification of the people doing the work also comes into question. Typically the top-level people running the e-mail servers are Operating System Analysts. When there is a problem with an e-mail server it is an Operating System Analyst that fixes it. When that work is contracted out someone will still have to be reporting problems to the vendor, but; it is not likely that person will that be an Operating System Analyst.

A lot of information sent via e-mail between students and faculty is very sensitive. Security and privacy is a major concern. On April 19 privacy and data-protection officials from 10 countries, including Germany, Canada and France sent a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The officials said Google “too often” forgets people’s privacy rights as it rolls out new technologies.

According to a post by Ellen Messmer of Network World, Cloud computing makes IT access governance messier. Messmer said, “IT professionals are finding it harder than ever to set up access controls for network resources and applications used by organization employees, and cloud computing is only adding to their woes, a survey of 728 IT practitioners finds.”

Not everybody is finding outsourcing to Google to be the slam-dunk it appears to be in the CSU system. According to a March 30 article by David Tidmarsh of the Yale Daily News at Yale University, “Information Technology Services has decided to postpone the University’s move from the Horde Webmail service to Google Apps for Education.” The article went on to say, “Deputy Provost for Science and Technology Steven Girvin said, “There were enough concerns expressed by faculty that we felt more consultation and input from the community was necessary.”

Few answers to these questions and issues have been forthcoming about these so-called free solutions. There is an old saying, if a deal appears too good to be true, it usually is. As CSU appears on the verge of leaping into the pool of free e-mail for all, maybe we should be looking a little more carefully beneath the surface.

Union’s table by SJSU Student Union

April 26, 2010
Derek West and Gilbert Villarreal in front of Student Union

Derek West and Gilbert Villarreal in front of Student Union

Click image to enlarge image.

I spent my lunch hour today in front of the student union at SJSU where we leafleted, passed out information about the rally 11:30 Thursday at the Student Union amphitheater and spoke to employees that will be affected by the layoffs. We plan to be in front of the Student Union Tuesday and Wednesday as well.

CSUEU Organizing Committee Blog

April 26, 2010

The CSUEU Organizing Committee has a blog. Unlike this blog, that blog is an official blog. Being official is a good thing. It means what is posted there is backed by the organization. Check out their blog here.

When folks like me start their own blogs you can not be sure that what is posted there is the official word. I am clear in announcing my blog is not.

Not all other unofficial blogs are quite so clear about that. If it comes from it is official. Otherwise, not!