Update 8/1/2019: This article has been updated to include information from UC Office of the President spokesperson Sarah McBride.
After the introduction of UCPath, a new payroll system implemented across several UC campuses throughout the past year, hundreds of student employees have reported missing or delayed paychecks.
According to Alec Uebersohn, a third-year doctoral candidate and the financial secretary of the UC Student-Workers Union, also known as United Automobile Workers Local 2865, glitches in the system have been causing distress for student workers, many of whom rely on the timeliness of their paychecks to pay rent and “put food on the table.” According to Uebersohn, student workers have been affected by the UC’s payroll system “experiment,” giving examples of students who were forced to take out emergency loans and use credit cards to pay for food.
“UCPath infrastructure has cost at least a billion dollars to design and implement,” Uebersohn said. “They’re really invested in doing this.”
Because the offices are remote, Uebersohn said, it is harder to resolve issues because students cannot simply visit a payroll office on campus. Since glitches in the system have occurred, UAW Local 2865 and other union groups have announced sponsorship of SB 698, a bill that would make late payments to student workers illegal.
The bill passed in the state Senate at the end of May, and is to be voted on in the Assembly by the end of the summer.
Some students, such as senior Faye Romero, have not noticed differences in the new system.
“I guess I’m just lucky if there is a systemwide thing that’s going on,” Romero said. “To my knowledge, I’ve not really come across anyone who’s had any issues with it, and I’ve not had any either.”
Romero mentioned that as the new system was implemented, there was a staff member present to guide the switch at her workplace on campus.
Other students, however, have faced firsthand the pressure of missed paychecks. Pedro De Anda Plascencia, a rising senior and a writing tutor at the Student Learning Center, mentioned that he and most of his writing tutor co-workers experienced delayed pay at the beginning of the spring semester.
When the system was barely implemented, De Anda Plascencia said, he and his co-workers did not get their pay until a month and a half later, and as a result, two or three paychecks were delayed.
De Anda Plascencia said he and his co-workers were “frightened” and “mad” when they experienced these delays in payment.
“We use a lot of that money to buy books, especially. … It was an economic burden on a lot of us,” De Anda Plascencia said. “We are putting in the work, and you are always showing up for your designated hours, and we should be getting (compensated) in a timely fashion as well.”
After the bill’s passage in the state Senate, UAW Local 2865 remains “optimistic about its chances in the Assembly and the governor’s desk,” according to Uebersohn.
In addition to sponsoring the bill, UAW Local 2865 has been actively building a pipeline with UCPath to resolve current errors, according to Uebersohn.
“We’ve been working closely with them to figure out … where the errors are occurring,” Uebersohn said.
According to university spokesperson Sarah McBride, UCPath, when fully deployed, will serve 230,000 UC employees.
McBride added that UCPath makes payroll and health benefits information easily accessible for employees online and provides “consistent data for reporting and decision-making.” According to McBride, all pay issues that occurred during the implementation of UCPath have been “resolved.”
“UCPath payroll accuracy surpasses the accuracy of the legacy payroll systems,” McBride said in an email. “We continue to apply lessons learned and best practices from previous implementations, and quickly identify and resolve problems.”
Contact Sasha Langholz at [email protected].