Sign of the times? UCLA Labor Center faces elimination
The center's director is "guardedly optimistic" that the center will be able to stave off proposed cuts for the second straight year.
If the cuts become a done deal, "it would seriously cut the amount of research and service being done around issues surrounding working people, especially low-income people," says Gary Blasi, the acting director of the Institute of Labor and Employment at UCLA.
The UCLA Labor Center was formed in 1964. The center uses up to 60 percent of its budget to sponsor research by nine University of California campuses on issues ranging from the effect of international tariffs on the California economy to the safety of workers in small businesses.
The UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program, which monitors occupational safety and trains workers to become activists, often works with the center to do community outreach, said Linda Delp, the director of the program.
Not long ago, the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program worked with the center to hold a conference that brought in UCLA staff and students to educate high-school students on working conditions and job safety.
"There's no way we could do that whole program ourselves," says Delp.
Delp says the proposed elimination of the labor center comes at a particularly bad time for workers, given that the state is also looking into cutting worker benefits and wages.
Employees are quick to point out that the amount of money Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes saving by cutting the center is only a fraction of the funding given to institutions that focus on corporations and the employer.
The UCLA Anderson School of Management, for example, which is consistently ranked in the top 20 business schools in the country, received $15.8 million in state funds last year, roughly four times the funding received by the labor center.
Whether the labor center will actually be cut is far from certain. Schwarzenegger's budget proposal will undergo many revisions before a budget is passed this coming summer, and until then the university, state legislators and various labor leaders will lobby on the center's behalf.