The University Record, October 16, 1995

Westerly Trends in Jobs and Contracts

By Bruce Oakley
Department of BiologyMy sabbatical in Berkeley provided a close-up view of a five-foot molecular genetics lab bench and an occasional panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay and its economic scene. Since Michigan's weather rolls in from the West one wonders whether California's economic storms won't shower their job insecurities onto Michigan. The job market in California has been in retreat---it is a state awash with apprehension. Vulnerable workers seek to blame their fears on public policy. It is likely that affirmative action programs that were once accepted will be scuttled by citizen initiative.

Are job anxieties based upon real or imagined job losses? Who have been the job winners and losers in California? Since public sector jobs reflect stable civic chores rather than the turbulence of the competitive marketplace, I collected some data on employment changes within components of California state and local government. Employment practices ought to be reflected in employment patterns.

Inspection of this table reveals some trends that are discordant with our everyday views. Some trends encourage our hopes. Asians, Filipinos, Latinos and African Americans have all made significant employment gains in the California state civil service in the last decade and a half. Asians, Filipinos and Latinos have also gained in the city of San Francisco. But not all boats have risen. Whites have ceded about 25 percent of their jobs in the California state and San Francisco city civil services. If this loss of upwards of 15,000 jobs is mirrored throughout those governmental branches not recorded in this table, such as the California universities and colleges, then it is plausible that the loss of tens of thousands of jobs might contribute to the waves of White Californian middle class anxiety.

The proportion of San Francisco municipal jobs held by Asian and Latino workers now corresponds closely to their representation in the Bay area worker pool. Filipinos and African Americans hold jobs at more than twice their proportional representation. The accepted goal has been to elevate the underrepresented to their proportionate representation in jobs. Then each group would have its piece of the economic pie in proportion to its representation in the labor pool. Since the number of San Francisco municipal workers classified as white has fallen well below their proportional number, it was not surprising to hear comments about caps. Some ask whether steps are being taken to counter overrepresentation. While hindsight makes one strongly averse to repeating the history of caps, in this zero-sum game where there is overrepresentation there must be underrepresentation. As a matter of future strategy it is important to determine to what extent discontent with affirmative action is amplified when the objective of proportional representation for targeted groups is substantially overshot. When employment rates hurdle past the proportional target by a factor of two or three, some may conclude they are at serious risk because group identity must be the predominant factor in the decision to hire, and not just one among several factors.

Enormous amounts of money are at stake in California state contracts subject to affirmative action. The University of California system issued $9.5 billion worth of contracts last year with 16.5 percent going to firms owned by minorities or women. However, the UC Regents decreed that effective January 1, 1996, the University of California system "shall not use race, religion, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin" as factors for hiring and awarding contracts. Because of the many federal and state regulations governing hiring policies and the awarding of contracts, the UC Regents specified that (merit-based) changes are not to be implemented in awards if they would result "in a loss of federal or state funds for the university." Hence little change is expected until a stillness settles on the battlefields of the state legislatures, Congress, the Supreme Court and citizen initiatives.

In part because small firms were said to be disadvantaged in the letting of contracts, "set asides" have been established for businesses owned by select minorities, or women, or local firms. The San Francisco city strategy is to adjust competitive bids. The bid of a city-based firm is lowered by 5 percent. Such a firm's contract could create new jobs for residents. Although taxpayers will end up paying more to accept a local firm's bid over the lowest bid, the expense might be offset if local job creation reduced welfare and crime costs, and increased local spending. In San Francisco's contract bidding process, ownership by minorities or women also reduces the bid by 5 percent. A $1 million bid of a woman-owned local firm would be reduced by 10 percent to $900,000 and would win over a $900,100 unadjusted bid. This kind of bid adjustment generates benefits that unfortunately may be offset by a slow buildup of resentment. It is a system that could steadily alienate an increasing number of workers---one rejected low bidder at a time. Has an enlarging pool of California workers come to feel such government policy threatens their livelihood?

In the long run I expect variants of affirmative action to prevail, for a meritocratic America is an anomaly. Most other countries, past and present, are ruled in the traditional way---by kinship. In the simplest kinship model, individuals like Fidel the dictator, or Faisal the king, and their immediate families, rule the nation. In many regions protracted struggles have broadened the power base from a ruling family to a ruling coalition or tribe. Things can get pretty rugged. The code of a typical New Guinea mountain tribe is simple---kill all intruders. And it seems not much different in Bosnia. In America, "cronyism" has negative connotations, but in the sub-Sahara it is a deep social obligation to share one's good fortune. Thus a success in business or a rise to political power becomes an absolute obligation to spread both wealth and jobs to kith and kin in the tribe.

Acknowledging a legacy of tens of thousands of years of biological evolution can help illuminate clashes between birthright and merit. While there is always an immediate triggering transgression, tribal jousting is a relentless evolutionary motif because its root cause is embedded in the selective advantage of "selfish genes." The evolutionary rule for social inclusion is whether the inclusion helps your genes and those shared by your kin to prosper. There is a corresponding determination to exclude foreign genes. Members of the xenophobic dominant tribe in Japan not only exclude individuals tainted by foreign genes (e.g., of Korean ancestry), but also denigrate a lower caste (bunrakumin) and their indigenous natives (Ainu) whom they have no intention of fully accepting into their society. In most of the world, heredity competes very effectively with merit in opening the doors to power.

It was an exhilarating experiment---this American meritocracy. In its heyday, westward geographic expansion provided vast resources and space for immigrant refugees to realize their potential at last. But now with our urbanized coasts clogged with foreign cars, and a manufacturing base mangled under management missteps and the weight of foreign competition, the mainstream perceives America as a land of diminished opportunity. So it is quite natural that the marginalized and foundering return to the norm of tribalism, to the solace and hope provided by a country increasingly controlled by identity politics where access to higher education and jobs will be gated by heredity. While reactionary forces are presently erecting detours on the road to a permanent state of affirmative action, it is no cause for despair. Tribalism is the everlasting rule---the die is caste.

EMPLOYMENT TRENDS AMONG CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENTAL WORKERS

 

CA State Civil Service*

San Francisco Civil Service

 

1978

1994

1980

1993

Native Amer.

0.4%

0.3%

0.3%

0.4%

 

 

 

(0.4%)**

(0.4%)

Asian

4.5%

6.6%

10.4%

16.6%

 

 

 

(15.3%)

(15.3%)

Filipino

1.2%

4.2%

6.8%

12.2%

 

 

 

(5.4%)

(5.4%)

Latino

7.7%

16.8%

6.4%

11.5%

 

 

 

(11.2%)

(12.8%)

African Amer.

8.3%

11.8%

23.4%

18.8%

 

 

 

(9.9%)

(8.2%)

White

76.7%

58.3%

52.4%

40.5%

 

 

 

(57.5%)

(52%)

 

 

 

 

 

Men

58%

53%

65%

57%

Women

42%

47%

35%

43%

Total Jobs

NA

163,422

25,398

30,361

*Excludes jobs in the legislative and judicial branches and all universities and colleges
**Numbers in brackets are number of workers as a percentage of the total labor force
in the San Francisco Bay area.

Preview of Senate Assembly Debate of Oct. 23, 1995
The Rights of Tenure: A Perspective on Undergraduate TeachingBy Jacqueline Lawson, Associate Professor of English
Language and Literature, Department of Humanities,
University of Michigan-Dearborn
As the AAUP's 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure makes clear, academic freedom "applies to both teaching and research" and "carries with it duties correlative with rights." The basis for granting tenure on the Dearborn campus is the "teacher-scholar model," which acknowledges the vital link between classroom instruction and research, each conducted in a climate of free inquiry. While this basic principle of tenure involves protecting the rights of teacher and student, the Statement throughout emphasizes the role academic freedom plays in creating good citizens and furthering the "common good." Viewed in this civic context, academic freedom involves reciprocal rights and obligations that the responsible educator must continually exercise in order to produce a thoughtful, effective citizenry. Moreover, and as John Stuart Mill observes in On Liberty (1859), ". . . since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied."

The assumption about freedom of expression contained both in Mill's essay and the AAUP Statement is that in order to produce good citizens, unpopular ideas must be aired, and I would argue that these ideas need to be aired most freely in the undergraduate classroom. The challenge of undergraduate teaching, and the importance of tenure in this endeavor, is our obligation to expose our students to the very ideas that are likely to cause them the most discomfort. Tenure as both a right and a duty allows us to teach---indeed, demands that we teach---ideas that are often controversial, provocative, even offensive. To avoid disturbing subjects simply because they are disturbing is to abdicate our responsibility to encourage our students' search for truth.

The popular and damaging misconception of tenure is that it gives professors license to indoctrinate students with certain political or intellectual ideologies. While tenure, like any right, is subject to abuse, good teaching often requires the promulgation of "adverse opinions" and "adverse opinions" are frequently unpopular and threatening.

Yet as the principles governing tenure acknowledge, it is these ideas that are most in need of protection and expression. The search for truth can only occur in a climate where unpopular, offensive, even subversive ideas are neither chilled nor suppressed, but where there exists unfettered expression of all ideas. As Mill notes, "the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation---those who dissent from the opinion still more than those who hold it." Tenure protects not simply our right to teach unpopular ideas but our obligation to do so, for it is precisely the ideas that make our students most uncomfortable that will ultimately make them better citizens. 

Rights of Tenure?By Thomas E. Moore
Museum of Zoology and SACUA
The 1915 AAUP founding Declaration of Principles; the 1925 Conference Statement of Academic Freedom and Tenure issued jointly by the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and others; and the 1940 AAUP Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure---endorsed by more than 135 learned societies and educational associations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the other groups cited---pioneered not only minimal financial security standards but also basic rights to due process in appointment and termination procedures for members of the academic profession.

Many institutions have adopted their own written definitions of the rights and scope of tenure. At the University of Michigan, our closest approaches to codification of rights of tenure are found in Regents' Bylaw 5.09, in the Regentally adopted Qualifications for Appointment and Promotion in the Several Faculties of the University of Michigan, and in
the central administration's Faculty Handbook. The Qualifications document only defines general standards forteaching, research and service, along with criteria for initial appointment and promotion to tenured faculty positions. The Bylaws only specify the procedures by which tenure can be removed. The Faculty Handbook merely reviews elements from the other two documents. Our Standard Practice Guide likewise fails to define the responsibilities, rights or causes for removal of tenure.

Our agreed-upon topic is the rights of tenure. What are these rights, and why were they selected? The document Toward a Definition of Tenure, adopted by the Senate Assembly in 1994, for the first time since this University's founding in 1817, initiated a written definition of rights, as follows:

"1. Continued employment until voluntary retirement or resignation.

"2. Economic security that (i) cannot be compromised on scholarship or teaching that falls within the limits of academic freedom, and that (ii) includes
a. An adequate salary that is not reduced during the term of employment except for adequate cause and after fair procedures; and
b. Adequate benefits the value of which is not reduced during the term of employment except for adequate cause and after fair procedures.

"3. Continued institutional support for our teaching and scholarship, including, at a minimum, reasonable and equitable teaching assignments in line with fair criteria and procedures (preferably in writing), as well as adequate classroom, library, and office and laboratory facilities. Academic freedom is endangered if faculty members risk losing this support because of the ideas they teach and write about.

"4. Continued involvement in the academic mission of the University and the unit in which the faculty member serves, includingparticipation in faculty decisions on hiring and promotion, teaching, curriculum, etc."

This "Bill of Rights" is not absolute, but speaks to essential functions of fragile academic operations. It seeks to preserve fair practice and review by peers against potential powerful institutional interference with these operations.