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LETTERS

The Real Cost of UCLA Labor Deal

November 23, 2003

After spending 2 1/2 years as President Bush's chief advisor for competitive sourcing, I read "A Contract Lost Amid Outsourcing Battle" (Golden State, Nov. 13) with keen interest.

Since the mid-1950s, the federal government has recognized that the private sector often can provide higher-quality services for a significantly lower price than federal employees.

Apparently, UCLA and the state of California have found a better model -- pay more for lower-quality services. With this kind of logical policymaking, how can anyone be surprised that your state is facing a crippling fiscal crisis?

When the government is performing work that could be performed by the private sector, the only fiscally responsible solution is to determine which sector (public or private) provides a better value. If 18 government janitors can clean buildings at UCLA as well as a private-sector company for a lower price, then clean away.

But shouldn't there be a transparent and accountable process in place to ensure that the right decision is made for the taxpayers?

Angela B. Styles

Washington

*

Given the pressures brought to bear from elected officials, unions and well-meaning advisors of all stripes, it continues to be a minor miracle that the $13-billion UC system, with its 10 campuses and three national laboratories, is widely considered the best public university in the world.

A union throws its weight around in Sacramento, and as a result 14 Democratic legislators target UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale and Dean Bruce Willison, who are caught in a no-win situation.

James Grant

Westwood

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The notion of the bottom line on the balance sheet as the bottom line of the social contract has got to be stopped. Let me simplify for the dim.

UCLA paying decent wages and benefits to janitors is good. Well-paid people with benefits can maintain households that consume, maintain stable relationships, maintain good health, educate their children and be productive members of society.

UCLA paying a third party that pays less well with few benefits results in a second class of citizens without the means to do all of the above except in exceptional circumstances.

I am so tired of the "haves" wanting to stint the wages of the "have nots" to support the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed in an unjust society, I could scream.

Richard P. McDonough

Irvine

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