My question involves employment and labor law for the state of: California
I was hoping someone would have an idea of what legal options might be available in our particular situation... Basically the case is this:
I work for a major state university in California. That university is facing a budget crisis right along with the state, and because that university receives a lot of support money from the state (obviously), it is suffering from reduced funding from the state. As a result the university is planning on forcing a 8% pay cut (via furlough or other mechanism) on all it's staff employees.
I work for a research group within the university. Our group is led by a faculty member of the university and that faculty member is thus paid by the university (in part) with state funds, but the entire group is otherwise funded exclusively by grant moneys and federal funds (NIH, etc). Thus, all employees in our group including myself have our salaries paid by an external funding source, although the grant money goes to the university first as a 'middleman', and they take out some overhead. The money then gets dispersed to us in the form of salaries, equipment, etc. But we, as employees of this group, receive no state funds and no money from the university. We do receive our checks from the University however, because they are the middlemen for the money. Technically, we are university employees.
Despite that, the university is saying they will cut our pay (and all soft-money employees' pay) even though cutting our pay will not aid the university. Thus, cutting our pay would result in us giving the money back to the grant-givers or repurposing the money for equipment or something. In other words, there is no reason to force us to take a pay cut because the money is not the university's money to begin with, they will not benefit from cutting our pay and it will not help their financial situation. The only reason we can guess that they want to cut our pay is to be fair with other university employees who are indeed funded directly by the university and thus by the state. Cutting those employees pay would of course help the university save money.
Somehow this can't be right - cutting our pay when it would not even help the university seems odd, and would needlessly hurt many employees who are already having trouble with mortgage payments and what-not. Are there grounds for a class action suit in this case for a cease-and-desist order to prevent the university from docking our pay, where such a pay cut is unnecessary and would hurt hundreds of people? Maybe under something like discrimination or unfair business practice or something?
Thanks for any initial thoughts or advice!