The Suit Claims Discrimination and Harassment
13 former IT employees of the University of California, San Francisco claimed they were harassed and discriminated against when they were laid off and forced to train their replacements, who were foreign-born outsourced workers.
The outsourcing move was made in order to save on the growing cost of IT at the university, which UCSF said had tripled between 2011 and 2016, largely due to the expansion of electronic medical records. (Source: “Outsourced UCSF workers sue state Regents,” The Mercury News, May 31, 2017.)
“This growth rate is not sustainable,” the university wrote in a released statement.
About 100 workers were replaced via outsourcing in February; a move that the university claims will save the institution $30.0 million over five years.
Still, there is concern that public dollars are being used to outsource work that could be done by Americans, as UCSF is a public institution. Bringing in foreign-born workers for considerably lower wages is often seen in the private sector, but this is believed to be the first time that a public university has engaged in the tactic.
Some of the employees cut had been with the university for decade, with one worker having been employed by UCSF for 39 years. The job reduction was seen as especially cruel due to employees being asked to stay around and teach their jobs to younger workers from abroad, who are also earning a lower wage.
There are accusations of abuse of the H-1B visa system, which the university denies.
Of UCSF’s near $6.0-billion budget, roughly two-thirds are spent on employee wages and benefits. The university is also known for providing medical care in poorer and underserved neighborhoods.
Further uproar was sparked when it was learned that the university president had collected a large surplus and yet was cutting these jobs in favor of low-wage outsourcing.
In any case, this represents a dangerous possible trend beginning for the American worker. Outsourcing has a strong presence in the private sector due to the constraints imposed by balance sheets and profit margins, but public institutions are under far less stress to cut costs, not to mention that they are in a bind in that they are funded by taxpayers. By sending the money to foreign workers, some view this as a slap in the face of the taxpayers who help fund the university but were laid off in favor of non-tax-paying people.