San Francisco uni IT bods to protest Tuesday over cuts, outsourcing

Axed workers vow to spend last day kicking up a fuss in the street

Dozens of IT workers slated to be laid off from their jobs at the University of California, San Francisco are planning a protest this week.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) labor union says that it will be helping some of the 78 laid-off techies take part in a protest Tuesday outside the research university's Mission Bay campus.

"On their last day of work, pink-slipped employees will protest the University of California, San Francisco's decision to replace them with lower-paid workers from India," the CWA said. "It is the first time a public university has ever offshored American information technology jobs, undermining its own mission to prepare students for high-tech careers."

The protest is slated to take place Tuesday at 9:00am outside UCSF's campus on Folsom Street.

The workers have been axed as part of a cutback the university announced last year, when it said it would eliminate some full-time staff while also removing vacant positions and contractor jobs.

In place of the in-house staff, UCSF says it plans to offload some of the work to outsourcing company HCL. While the CWA says some of the jobs will be given to workers on H-1B visas, the university has disputed the claim.

Perhaps more so than other colleges, IT staff are particularly visible at UCSF, where top-notch biotechnology studies and bleeding-edge research are primary areas of focus. The university estimates that the 49 full-time staff to be made redundant – not including the contractors – account for just eight per cent of the total in-house IT department.

The university for its part said in a statement to The Register that all of the laid off workers were notified six months ago and have been offered job placement assistance.

"This reorganization is an unfortunate but necessary step to rein in IT costs, which have risen sharply," the UCSF spokesperson said. "The pressure is driven largely by the increased demand for specialized IT services, including the electronic medical record and the use of big data for research aimed at improving diagnostics and care for patients." ®

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