Ned Raggett, 38, is a library assistant at the Jack Langson Library on the UC Irvine campus. There he is in charge of the library reserves, ordering them for professors, and making them available for students. He has been working in this capacity since 1997.
Q: When did you first learn of the budget cuts? A: To be honest, when things started looking dicey with regards to the State budget, I figured that cuts would be made to the school system. I believe it was in June or July last year that the State of California started having financial difficulties, and after that it was only a matter of time.
Q: What was your initial reaction to hearing about the budget cuts? A: I was not surprised. As I said before, I was sort of expecting that cuts would be coming. The whole process with regards to fitting a budget within its financial limits is rather convoluted, but there have been pay cuts as a part of budget cuts in the past, and there will be again. I thought, “It’s just one of those times.” I am less surprised that it happened than the intensity with which it has hit.
Q: How will the crisis affect you personally? A: Obviously I will have to revise my personal spending, and give up what I can no longer afford.
Q: Has it had any impact so far? A: In terms of my employment, I – and my colleges – are subject to furloughs, which no one are happy about. But more than that, I oversee the student employees working here at the library, and because of the cuts in the budget and to our hours, I cannot assign then as many hours as I would like. Already the services at the library are cut so we are not open as late in the evening as we used to, and the study area, which I also oversee at times, is only open in the evening now. It is just too bad.
Q: Are you actively involved in the protests against the budget cuts? Why not? A: No, I am a member of CUE (Coalition of University Employees), but I am not really active in the protests. I support the unions in general, which is why I am a member, but I do not like they way they are handling the current situation. Rather than fighting tooth and nail to keep things unchanged for now, the unions could try to negotiate for retroactive pay for the employees. Like an IOU. We would have a little less money right now, but be compensated down the line. This way they are just expending all of their energy on a battle they cannot win. The cuts are coming, but the unions could use it to their advantage instead of going kicking and screaming.
Q: Who do you think the cuts will hit the hardest? A: If the all budget cuts are implemented, it is inevitable that a part of the burden will fall on all of us, but I think it is important for everyone to realize that those who are getting paid less now are the ones who are going to have the hardest time affording the pay cuts. The higher paid employees will have an easier time dealing with less money.
Q: Where, in your opinion, could or should the cut be made?
A: There is no easy solution to this problem. I definitely prefer that everybody take a cut to their paycheck rather than seeing people laid off and losing everything altogether. But I think it is important for the “higher-ups” to look at the possible pr of this issue. They must be careful not to simply protect themselves when others are having problems. The cuts should be spread out in a reasonable fashion; CUE says that the University of California have money put aside for tough times, and I understand the rationale of having money for such a purpose, but I think that one could argue for the use of part of the emergency fund to lessen the impact of the proposed cuts. Everyone is looking for a simple solution, but in a case such as this, the solution is bound to be complex.
The hours at Jack Langson Library:
Monday to Thursday: 8am to 8pm
Friday: 8am to 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 1pm to 5pm
The hours at Gateway Study Center
Monday to Thursday: 6pm to 3am
Friday and Saturday: 5pm to 9pm
Sunday: 5pm to 3am