Changes to Post-Employment Benefits under Discussion
The Academic Senate is working closely with the administration to ensure that the voice of the faculty is heard as potential recommendations for the future of UC’s post-employment benefits are developed and disseminated.
Several factors have combined to focus energy and attention on the UC retirement programs, prompting UC to empanel a presidential Task Force on Post-Employment Benefits (PTFPEB) to consider choices with regard to retiree health and pension benefits that could impact both current and future UC employees. In addition to the poor market performance of recent years, the resumption of employee and employer contributions to UCRP on April 15 – following a nearly 20-year contribution holiday – and the ongoing state budget crisis have helped force this discussion to the top of the agenda. No decisions have been made.
The PTFPEB has conducted its work under a specific charge, which includes a guiding principle that “The University of California is committed to providing competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain excellent faculty and staff to accomplish its mission for the people of California, while ensuring sustainable post employment benefits for current and future retirees.”
The timeline for the development, dissemination, and review of recommendations included initial consultations about preliminary options with the University Committee on Planning and Budget (UCPB), the University Committee on Faculty Welfare (UCFW), and UCFW’s Task Force on Investment and Retirement and UCFW’s Health Care Task Force. In addition, on March 31, the Provost Lawrence H. Pitts hosted an all-day budget “summit” with the Academic Council, UCPB, members of the PTFPEB, and key administrators to contextualize the PEB discussion within the parameters of the University’s overall budget situation.
A series of campus town hall meetings is planned for April and May. Systemwide Human Resources will hold open briefings on each of the campuses throughout April to discuss the issues, and in May, Academic Senate Chair Harry Powell and Vice Chair Dan Simmons will hold Senate-only discussions of the options on each campus. The PTFPEB is expected to submit its final recommendations to President Yudof in June, and the President will discuss the recommendations with the Regents in July. The Senate will begin its review of the President’s recommendations in July, and discussions are expected to continue into the fall.
“I urge faculty to become involved in this process and learn more about retirement generally and the nature of the proposed changes at upcoming campus fora,” said Chair Powell. “Most employees go through their UC career expecting full delivery of an excellent benefit plan. The changes under consideration are significant. Regardless of your rank and step, your personal welfare is directly impacted by these issues and the decisions that will be made. Please plan to attend the events at your campus both to learn and to share.”
Since last summer, the PTFPEB and its steering committee, along with three subcommittees focusing on finance, pension, and retiree health care, have been studying the viability of current retirement programs.
Last fall, systemwide Human Resources staff conducted a “listening tour” of campuses to hear concerns about the retirement system and identify knowledge gaps. This was followed by an online survey with similar goals. Now, the PTFPEB’s internal deliberations have turned to cost cutting options intended to increase the sustainability of the post-employment benefits structures while maintaining UC competitiveness. Among the options under consideration are raising the retirement age, changing the age factors, increasing out-of-pocket retiree health premiums, and creating a separate pension plan for new employees.
Chair Powell and Vice Chair Simmons both serve on the PTFPEB Steering Committee, and current and past chairs of standing Senate committees serve on the PTFPEB subcommittees on finance, pension, and retiree health. The Senate will send its feedback to the PTFPEB through Senate representatives to inform the process before it issues its recommendations, and the Senate will conduct a review of the President’s recommendations before they are presented to the Regents for action.
Schedule of Senate Post-Employment Benefits Forums
Senate Chair Powell and Vice Chair Simmons will visit campuses to discuss the Post-Employment Benefits task forces’ work with Senate audiences. These meetings are in addition to briefings from UC Human Resources. Please check with your division office for exact times and locations.