By Rory Carroll
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The University of California, San Francisco on Tuesday laid off 49 information technology (IT) employees and outsourced their work to a company based in India, ending a year-long process that has brought the public university under fire.
The university announced the plan last July as a way to save $30 million over five years. The University of California system, which includes health care and research-focused UCSF, has been struggling to raise revenue and cut expenses.
Globalization and outsourcing have become hot-button political issues in the United States, as more employers cut costs by farming out work to low-cost workers in far-flung parts of the world. President Donald Trump campaigned on promises to restore lost U.S. jobs and to penalize companies that move factories overseas.
This was the University of California's first outsourcing, said a spokeswoman who added that the layoffs were necessary due to rising costs of technology. In addition to the 49 staff layoffs, another 48 positions that were vacant or filled by contractors were eliminated.
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.
Kurt Ho, 58, a laid off systems administrator, carried a box of his personal items with an American flag draped over it, and said the university's decision will hurt service for a medical staff that relies on a smoothly running and secure computer network.
"It's a downgrading of services and a slap in the face for the customers," said Ho, who has worked in IT in the Bay Area for 25 years. He said he plans to look for a job but worries that outsourcing of IT services is a growing trend.
Last year UCSF entered into a $50 million contract over five years with India-based HCL Technologies Ltd to do the work.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Peter Henderson and David Gregorio)