California legislators demand that UC address payroll system malfunctions

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After UC employees reported hundreds of malfunctions with recently implemented payroll system UCPath, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, voiced their concerns in letters to UC chancellors, demanding that the issue be addressed.

UCPath, which has been implemented UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, UC Merced and UCLA, was created to unify the UC payroll system, according to the UCPath project website. Since the system’s implementation, hundreds of UC employees, including undergraduate and graduate students, have reported miscalculated or missing paychecks. Gonzalez said in her letter that student workers are especially affected by the malfunctions.

“It has been a disaster for workers, in particular for Academic Student Employees,” Gonzalez said in a letter to UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. “Too many student workers have gone without pay, in some cases for months; or they have experienced pay errors or missing tuition remission.”

Gonzalez and Skinner could not be reached for comment as of press time.

UC spokesperson Claire Doan said in an email that the university’s efforts to combat these challenges are “ongoing.”

In her blog, UCLA student worker and graduate student Laura Muñoz discussed her experiences with the UCPath system and the challenges that have emerged with its implementation, especially as someone who lives “paycheck to paycheck.”

According to Muñoz, before switching to UCPath, she was warned that there might be some problems with the new system. After switching to UCPath, Muñoz alleged in her blog that on her typical payday, she was left unpaid and unsure of when her paycheck would come in.

The pay portal told Muñoz she would be paid two weeks later, she said in her blog. In the meantime, Muñoz called the phone number listed online and emailed in hopes of getting more information but did not receive a response.

She added that the absence of her paycheck caused her to give up coffee in an attempt to save money and also caused her to incur late credit card fees, including a $200 fee from her student loan company, which claimed she was no longer a student in the UC system.

“I began to contemplate how to live on the $100 I had left in the bank. Every purchasing decision was considered — did I need to buy laundry detergent, or could I wear my clothes over again?” Muñoz said in her blog. “I pushed it as far as I could — but after November 14th rolled around and I was not paid again, I had to go to my family.”

Nearly a week after her postponed payday, Muñoz received half of her regular paycheck.

Muñoz is one of hundreds of people affected by the system’s malfunctions. Gonzalez said in her letter that students who have not yet been compensated have faced a range of challenges, including late credit card fees and having to drop classes.

In a letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Skinner said many students rely on their paychecks to fund their tuition and rent.

“I am sure it is your intention that these problems do not occur when UCPath is implemented at UC Berkeley,” Skinner said in her letter. “I ask that your office work with the UC Office of the President to ensure a smooth rollout of the UCPath payroll system.”

Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.