Internal wage audits reveal inconsistency in UC system

ROSA FURNEAUX / AGGIE FILE

Inspections across UC campuses show little compliance with UCOP’s pledge to increase minimum wage

A recent review of audits conducted across UC campuses and medical centers has revealed that the UC system has shown inconsistent compliance with the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan announced in 2015 by UC President Janet Napolitano. The plan was announced to the Board of Regents through the UC Office of the President in July of 2015 and pledged “that the minimum wage for its workers — both direct and service contract employees — will be raised to $15 an hour over the next three years.”

Part of the criteria to successfully implement this policy is mandatory audits independently performed on UC contractors employed for services exceeding $100,000. Contracts are required to contain language of the policy stated within and audits must be paid for and conducted by an independent auditor the supplier hires. Afterward, the contractor provides a certificate signed by the independent auditor to their respective campus proving their annual audit was performed.

Each UC campus’ Audit and Management Advisory Services reviewed its university’s processes, contracts and compliance with the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan. The audits revealed that the systems in place to monitor universtiy agreements related to independent contracting were lacking. The purpose of a monitoring system is to ensure that contracts fall under the criteria relating to the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan; however, the review showed that parts of the system were flawed. The review also found a recurring failure to conduct audits among service contractors and vendors who were plainly violating the Fair Wage/Fair Work policy with no repercussions.

“What these audits expose is [that the] UC has not been enforcing this Wage/Work plan,”  said John de los Angeles, the communications director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest UC employee labor union. “Contractors are skating under the radar and they themselves are not even sure which contractors need to be following this policy.”

UC Davis’ review showed that since the plan’s announcement two years ago, the campus and UC Davis Health are still trying to create effective systems to track independent contracting agreements. UC Davis is also trying to become stricter when it comes to certifying the authenticity of audits. Similar observations were recorded in audits at UC Merced, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley.

“If UC prides itself in being an agent for social mobility for students, they might also think to serve that same function for low wage workers,” de los Angeles said.

Claire Doan, a UC spokesperson, responded to current issues with the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan via email.

“As with any relatively new and expansive policy, implementation and compliance can take some time,” Doan said.

Doan also said that the UC is continuing to develop the plan by training occupational leadership to enforce policy, tracking contracts to make sure guidelines were followed and updating reference documents and online content for clarification. These developments are projected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2017.

 

Written by: Elizabeth Mercado — campus@theaggie.org

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