UC to Payout 1.3 Million After Underpaying Thousands of Employees

Christina Damse / The Triton.

The Regents of the University of California will pay approximately $1.3 million in back wages and damages after it was discovered that a system error resulted in small miscalculations of overtime pay for around 13,700 UC employees.

The UC contacted the Department of Labor to conduct an investigation in late 2015 after noticing small discrepancies in pay. A settlement was reached in early May 2017 for payment and damages for employees whose underpayment exceeds $20. The UC will not pursue reimbursement from employees who were overpaid due to the error.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local (AFSCME) 3299, which represents 20,000 non-academic University of California workers at the ten campuses and five medical centers, praised the decision but were critical of the how long it took to get the issue sorted. Of the 13,700 UC employees affected, 653 are current and former UC San Diego AFSCME employees.

“Working people living check to check have been waiting nearly three years for UC to pay back these stolen overtime wages,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in a press release last Friday. “We are grateful to the US Department of Labor for ensuring that workers are made whole and that the University is held accountable.”

The UC began notifying employees affected by the unpaid wages in July and payments will be sent out this September.

The UC has corrected the error in the current payroll system and expects the rollout of their new payroll system, UCPath, will prevent future issues. According to the UC, UCPath will calculate pay in compliance with Federal Standards, minimizing the possibility of future miscalculations. The new payroll system is set to launch at every UC campus by December 2018, although the initiative has experienced multiple delays. Initial estimates suggested a launch of 2012 and the project is currently $348 million over budget.

UCSD Teamsters 2010, which has 225 members who were promised reimbursement for overtime calculation errors, believes that the UC is still making these errors knowingly. 

“Teamsters has been waiting three years for UCPATH to sign a simple agreement on job classifications. UCPATH is millions in the red and years behind its original implementation plan,” said Tanya Marie Akel, the Teamsters 2010 Regional Director. “It’s sad that the UC, the great institution of higher learning, cannot pay its employees properly.”

Mo Elew is a staff writer at The Triton.