IT Workers

Filer photo of Univeristy of California San Francisco medical center workers staging a demonstration outside of the UCSF medical center on May 9, 2018 in San Francisco, California, for higher wages. (representational image/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

About a dozen U.C. San Francisco tech workers have protested on their last day over the university’s decision to lay off 20 percent of its IT staff, and outsource their work to a company in India.

Insider Financial reports that the 100 layoffs at UCSF Medical Center represented 20 percent of its IT staff and included 49 full-time employees, 30 contractors and 18 unfilled positions.

University of California administrators said the university is under financial strain. It has a $5.4 billion annual budget and is planning to raise student tuition, but top executives in the IT department are in line for a substantial bonus, according to the report.

Administrators said the cost-cutting move will save $30 million on a $50 million five-year contract with HCL, a multinational information tech firm headquartered in India, NDTV reported.

Workers first learned in July last year that they would be laid off in February. In the last several months, UCSF tech workers have trained their Indian replacements via video conference, according to the report.

At least 13 employees plan to sue the university for outsourcing their jobs to a group of young men from India, claiming their eliminated jobs amounted to discrimination. Filing a lawsuit will mean no severance pay, according to the report.

While outsourcing employees abroad isn’t illegal by itself, hiring a group of uniformly young male workers from India runs contrary to a law forbidding bias based on national origin, gender, age, and race, the report noted.

The university has denied violating any laws, according to the report.

UCSF is a school focused on health care and research and is believed to be the first public university in the U.S. to outsource a large number of IT jobs. The layoffs have caught the attention of state and federal lawmakers, the report added.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein last year said the university had a responsibility to keep jobs in the United States and pledged to seek reforms to stop domestic jobs being outsourced.

In Sacramento, Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty introduced a bill to ban universities from using contractors to move work out of the country. The proposal will not reverse the UCSF layoffs but will apply to other state universities hiring outside firms for work. Under the measure, contractors would be required to certify their workers are based in the U.S. Failure to do so would be deemed perjury and subject to criminal penalty, it said.

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