Nearly all University of California employees will be eligible for raises this year after UC leaders on Wednesday lifted a pay freeze that lasted almost four years.

In a letter to UC employees, President Mark Yudof said all but the newest and highest-paid employees would be eligible. Union members already were entitled to raises under their contracts, but nonunion workers have not received bumps since October 2007.

Faculty members, who previously were eligible for merit bumps only once every four years, will all receive performance reviews in the coming year. Any professor receiving a positive review will get a 3-percent raise.

The university set aside $140 million in this year's budget for the raises, a UC spokeswoman said.

Employees hired this year and nonunion workers who make more than $200,000 per year are not eligible for raises, said Yudof, who added that 400 employees -- including himself -- fall into the highly paid category. The 10-campus university had planned for several months to allow raises this year.

"One purpose of this pool is to give you a tool in your efforts to recruit and, most importantly, retain leading faculty members, who increasingly are being courted by competing institutions," Yudof wrote. He also said it was unfair to continue to freeze nonunion wages while represented employees receive raises.

"Fairness dictates that we take this step," he said.


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The university's budget was cut $650 million by the state this year, and UC leaders are preparing for an additional $100 million cut midway through the fiscal year if state revenues fall short. The 23-campus California State University faces an identical budget situation.

UC officials have raised student tuition seven times in the past five years, including twice since November. UC undergraduates will pay $11,220 for the 2011-12 school year.

Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Contact him at 510-208-6488. Follow him at Twitter.com/MattKrupnick.