Davis Faculty Association

Archive for November, 2009

Highlights from the UCRS “Advisory” Board meeting

Joe Kiskis attended the UCRP Advisory Board meeting (or, as Joe would call it, the “Advisory” Board) in Oakland last Friday on behalf of all of us and sends us this report:

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Highlights from the UCRS “Advisory” Board meeting Nov. 13, 2009

Preliminaries:

A) In this discussion, it is important to distinguish between the Regents _policy_ on funding and what they actually do.

B) Academic Council position on restart of contributions:

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/reports/mctoyudof.ucrpfunding.june09.pdf

This Council position would require a contribution far higher than the 6% = 2% employee + 4% employer now scheduled to begin on April 15, 2009 and to continue into 2010. The numbers are now worse than they were when the Council letter was written. If the Regents were to fund their own policy starting in June 2010, it would require a total contribution (employer + employee) of about 20% of payroll. That is basically the 17% steady state number plus 3% to amortize the first 1/5 of the $1OB lost last year.

Highlights:

1) The fund performance for the third quarter of this calendar year was very strong: up about $3B or about 12%. For the whole calendar year, it’s up about 18%. Note that most of the numbers you will see quoted and used for the official calculations are based on the June 30, 2009 end of the fiscal year situation. For that FY, the fund was down about 19% or about $10B.

2) Based on the official methodology with 5 year smoothing, UCRP is now 95% funded. If the full loss from last year were included, it would be 71% funded.

3) As already mentioned, if the Regents were to follow their methodology
adopted in Sept. 2008, the total contribution for 2010-2011 would be about 20% and would rise to about 36% in a few years. Even with that, it would take about 20 years to get back to 100% funded and a normal cost contribution of 17%. If we follow the current slow ramp up plan, i.e. only slowly approaching the Regents policy, then by the time we get out about 10 years, the accumulated additional shortfall would require a 50% contribution to fund Regents policy. This is the really bad situation that has been discussed for some time now. The new part is just the more precise and official 20% quoted above. You can find all this discussed in detail in

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f5.pdf

and

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f5present.pdf

4) Based on the dire numbers, there was a discussion that focused on whether the Regents could be persuaded to follow the Academic Council recommendation. The suggestion was made that the UCRS “Advisory” Board recommend that the Regents follow the Academic Council recommendation. It appeared that everyone agreed with that. However, and here I come to the part about why I have been putting “Advisory” in quotes, the person from the Office of the University Counsel pointed out that although the board has “Advisory” in its name, it is not allowed to give advice or make recommendations. On the other hand, it can express concern or suggest that certain things be considered. It was agreed that the Board should use whatever language it could to support the Academic Council recommendation.

Also last week, the Task Force on Post-Employment Benefits listening tour was at Davis last Monday. A pdf of the powerpoint is available at

http://www.hr.ucdavis.edu/benefits/2rs/PEB-pp

There are also links to various video formats of the presentation at

http://budgetnews.ucdavis.edu/

UC’s proposed 2010-2011 budget now online

The proposed Regents’ budget for 2010-2011 is now online.

Long version:
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f3attach3.pdf

Really long version:
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f3attach1.pdf

“Key elements” include: maintaining only a 4% employer contributions and 2% employee contributions to the UC Retirement Plan for the duration of 2010-11; preserving the quality of employee and retiree health benefits programs; ending the furlough/salary reduction plan on August 31, 2010; continuing the academic merit salary increase program; increasing student fees 15% in January and then another 15% for next fall; and a proposal to reduce systemwide enrollment by a further 2,300 (current year is already reduced by 2,300), while continuing to expand infrastructure and facilities.

Oil Severance Tax Article

An article in the California Aggie about proposed legislation to begin taxing oil extraction to create funds for public higher education quotes DFA member Joe Kiskis. The full article is at http://theaggie.org/article/2009/11/16/oil-severance-tax-aims-to-support-higher-education and here is an excerpt:

AB 656 proposes a 9.9 percent oil severance tax for California oil drilling and natural gas companies. It is estimated that the tax would allocate $1 billion for UCs, CSUs and community colleges. The Council of UC Faculty Associations expressed its support for this bill in April… “The new funds would replace some of the lost state support and would therefore reduce the pressure for further fee increases and cuts to educational quality. However, this bill would fall short of generating enough additional money to restore a healthy level of university funding,” Kiskis said in an e-mail interview.

Hope for a financially stable higher education system in California may seem implausible, but AB 656 by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) rekindles some faith that the University of California, California State Universities and community colleges will have some help.

AB 656 proposes a 9.9 percent oil severance tax for California oil drilling and natural gas companies. It is estimated that the tax would allocate $1 billion for UCs, CSUs and community colleges.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations expressed its support for this bill in April.

AB 656 can provide additional financial support for UC Davis and the higher education system of California, said Joseph Kiskis, UC Davis physics professor and CUCFA Vice President for external relations.

In April, Kiskis authored a letter that represented the views of the CUCFA and included suggestions for the bill.

CUCFA suggested that the 11 member board of the California Higher Education Endowment Corporation create a public website that shows annual reports on how UCs, CSUs and community colleges have utilized the funds.

Funding allotment is projected to allocate funds so that CSUs receive 60 percent, UCs receive 30 percent and community colleges receive 10 percent.

UC spokesperson Steve Montiel told the Daily Californian that the university was concerned about the distribution of the money.

“We believe any legislation that proposes to provide additional support for higher education needs to treat the UCs and CSUs the same,” Montiel said in the Daily Californian on Nov. 6.

Montiel also said the university needed to know whether the revenues from the tax would replace existing funding and whether it would be made available exclusively to colleges and universities.

A representative from Torrico’s office said these distributions were decided based on the amount of money UCs, CSUs and community colleges already receive. UCs and community colleges receive funding from outside sources in addition to student fees. CSUs also obtain funding through student fees but rely heavily on money from the California General Fund, which is severely affected by the economic crisis.

The distribution is subject to change, the representative said. Community colleges may require more funding than the current 10 percent because more students may attend community colleges in the future, due to the rise in tuition cost for UCs and CSUs.

The CUCFA also recommended a different distribution of the funds – 45 percent for UCs and CSUs and 10 percent for community colleges.

“The new funds would replace some of the lost state support and would therefore reduce the pressure for further fee increases and cuts to educational quality. However, this bill would fall short of generating enough additional money to restore a healthy level of university funding,” Kiskis said in an e-mail interview.

With this bill, institutions of higher education will not have to rely on funds from the California General Fund. The California higher education fund would be established and divide the severance tax money among the institutions.

“California’s higher education system, which for decades has served our state so well, will continue to decline without a renewed commitment to invest in our public universities,” Torrico said in a press release.

Opponents of the oil severance tax believe the bill will not contribute positively to the current economic situation.

Scott Macdonald, a spokesperson for Californians Against Higher Taxes, believes that the oil severance tax will not contribute toward rebuilding our economy.

Macdonald said although California is the only state that does not have an oil severance tax for oil producing companies, California oil companies already pay the highest taxes.

“It will make oil production decrease, thousands of jobs [will be lost] and oil production will be replaced with foreign imported oil,” Macdonald said.

He also believes the oil severance tax would increase the price of gas.

“Increasing taxes undercuts the ability for the economy to recover. It is the worst idea at the worst time.” Macdonald said. “Higher education is extremely valuable, but we must live with the means we have. It is the most effective way to get out of this economic situation.”

The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee will review AB 656 on Jan. 11, 2010.

Nov. 16 teach-in well attended

About a hundred people showed up for the teach-in Monday night. Speakers included: Nathan Brown (faculty member), Tarone Bittner (of AFSME), Kaitlin Walker (graduate student), Catherine Fung (graduate student), Ian Kennedy (faculty member), Joshua Clover (faculty member), Jeffrey Bergamini (of UPTE), Jim Davis (lecturer), Kevin Roddy (lecturer), and Sarah Raridon.

teach-in-audience

Teach-in Monday, 7 to 9 pm, in Giedt 1001

Your students may have a lot of questions about the impending fee increases, and about the funding situation of UC in general. Faculty and students at UC Davis are sponsoring a teach-in from 7 to 9 pm on Monday in Giedt Hall Room 1001. The DFA recommends that you mention this teach-in to your students so they can plan to attend.

If you wish to present some information about the crisis, we have PowerPoint slides here, and there are a number of articles at the Keep California’s Promise website that would make good handouts (of particular interest for this use might be the 2 page overview discussion guide, the 1 page article on how tuition is being used to leverage Wall Street bonds, or the 2-page article about the disproportionate growth in administrative positions at UC).

LAO Report: Assessing California’s Vision for Higher Education

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has just issued the following report:

The Master Plan at 50: Assessing California’s Vision for Higher Education

Almost 50 years ago, the state of California adopted a visionary plan for higher education that sought to forge the state’s colleges and universities into a coordinated system, founded on core principles and directed toward specified goals. Adherence to that vision has been uneven over the past five decades, while changes in demographics and the economy have caused the state’s educational needs to evolve. The 50th anniversary of the Master Plan thus presents a timely opportunity for policymakers to take stock of California’s higher education system in light of current and projected needs and priorities. In order to assist the Legislature in such an effort, our office is launching a series of publications examining key aspects of higher education policy and funding. The series is designed to frame key issues for legislative consideration, and assist in the refinement of higher education goals and policies. This report provides an overview of the series. (8 pp.)

This report is available using the following link:
http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/PubDetails.aspx?id=2141

Disproportionate growth of administrators at UC

There is a new article on the KeepCaliforniasPromise.org website about the disproportionate growth of administrators at UC and how much it is costing us (four times the savings of the furloughs). The full article is at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/?p=469 and an excerpt is below:

Soon every faculty member will have a personal senior manager: Is this a good way to spend money?
by Richard Evans

…It’s true that UC’s share of the state’s general fund has been declining (from 7.5 percent in 1967-68 to as low as 3 percent in recent years, according to the California Postsecondary Education Commission), but that has been a steady trend. The more immediate reason for the current enormous increases in student fees, and for the sudden need for employee furloughs, is the startling recent growth of UC’s senior management. Data available from the UC Office of the President shows that there were 2.5 faculty members for each senior manager in the UC system in 1993. Now there are as many senior managers as faculty. Just think: Each professor could have his or her personal senior manager…

Presentation: Legal Threats to Academic Freedom and Shared Governance

Legal Threats to Academic Freedom and Shared Governance in Higher Education; a presentation by Rachel Levinson, Senior Counsel at the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

November 13, Friday, at 12 noon, in the new Abbaszadeh Lecture Hall, Gallaher Hall (Graduate School of Management, across from Mondavi).

The question of whether principles of academic freedom protect faculty as they participate in shared governance activities at the University of California has been called into question by recent court decisions.  The AAUP is issuing an extensive report in November 2009, the Garcetti Report, on these legal developments and the need for universities to strengthen their policies on academic freedom to make sure shared governance participation is included.

Rachel Levinson as Senior Counsel at AAUP helped draft the report.  She has worked to alert faculty to cases that threaten academic freedom and the faculty?s critical role in shared governance.  In her presentation, she will discuss recent attacks on the academy—nationally and in California—and highlight some important warning signs for faculty—as well as opportunities for action.

This presentation is co-sponsored by the UC Davis Academic Senate, the  UCD Senate Committee on Academic Freedom, the AAUP, and the Davis Faculty Association.

November 18-20

Some UC faculty members, staff, and students are calling for a strike to protest the proposed 32% student fee increase. The strike is to roughly coincide with the upcoming UC Regents meeting: November 18, 19, and 20. The DFA has been asked to forward to our members the URL for a form where faculty can pledge solidarity with the strikers — essentially promise not to punish students, TAs, etc. who participate in the strike. The meat of the pledge is:

“We the undersigned thus pledge to not penalize undergraduate or graduate students who will not be attending class during the strikes. If we have midterms scheduled or papers due during the strike, we will do our best to reschedule exams, to extend deadlines, to create alternate assignments so that students can respond to events on campus as part of their classwork, or to accommodate students in other ways. We also pledge to protect the rights of graduate students working as TAs and GSIs in the event that they face retaliation from the administration as a result of their participation in a work stoppage. We will call on our departmental managers to refuse to report graduate students who will not be teaching classes or performing other work, and on the campus leadership to likewise protect graduate students.”

The full pledge, with sign-up form, is at http://ucstrike.com/solidarity_pledge.php

Minutes of DFA Board Meeting October 30, 2009

Guest Craig Flanery — Executive Director of the BFA, SCFA, CUCFA and West Coast Director of AAUP

Craig gave a brief history of the SCFA: founded in 1975, enabling legislation was passed in 1978 (HEERA) that meant UC had to recognize the UCSC faculty union. California is 1 of about 28 states that have passed enabling legislation. Because the whole UC system did not unionize, SCFA only has local bargaining rights. Most compensation issues have been established as systemwide issues, so SCFA can not bargain them. SCFA designated CUCFA as its collective bargaining agent. Using UCSC’s bargaining rights, CUCFA negotiated meet and confer rights on systemwide issues. Changes of terms of employment require advance notification to CUCFA. Thus CUCFA finds out about things faculty otherwise might not find out about – for example there was a benefits change at UCSC without any notification to anyone. Individual faculty came to collect on those benefits only to learn they had been written out. Because UC failed to notify CUCFA, they were required to restore those benefits. CUCFA also sued over arbitrary merit reductions in the early 1990s and got those restored.

Flanery was asked about dues at SCFA – he replied that SCFA dues are higher than most FAs, but he doesn’t know the exact number, something between $400 and $600 per year. Nationwide, association fees are usually in the range of .75% and 1.2% of payroll. If SCFA bargained more they would have to raise their dues. 50% of faculty must vote for representation, but those faculty who vote for representation are not required to join the FA. That said, Craig believes more than 50% of faculty did join SCFA in the 1970s. SCFA has been active enough on the significant issues that they have maintained good support. He thinks almost half of UCSC faculty are in SCFA.

Flanery was asked if the UCSC Academic Senate was less activist than at other campuses – if this could account for the higher participation rate at UCSC. Craig responded that UC is legally bound to negotiate with the SCFA while there is no legal requirement for UC to negotiate with the Academic Senate.

He was also asked how issues get arbitrated. Craig responded that arbitration was an expensive option for both parties, which creates an incentive for UC to bargain. He described how CUCFA can cooperate with the Academic Senate in the interests of faculty by taking an outlier position with UCOP and then agreeing to compromise with UCOP to abide by the Academic Senate’s vote.

Flanery was asked what is happening at UCSC with regards to the furloughs. He responded that they are currently forced to bargain for the right to bargain. When UCOP announced that furloughs would be decided at the local level that made it a local issue and SCFA notified UC of their intention to bargain the issue. UCOP now claims this is a systemwide issue and so not bargainable locally. SCFA’s goal is to have instructional day furloughs if the UCSC Senate votes to do so. SCFA may charge UC with unfair labor practices over this issue, or they may resolve this issue in exchange for something else.

Flanery was asked how the SCFA board manages a half-time unpaid job on top of their professorial duties. Craig described the work Bob Meister does on behalf of UCSC from his position as CUCFA President, as well as the fact that CUCFA has two staff members (himself and Eric Hays) to assist. He went on to say that, if the DFA were to collectively bargain, it would probably have to raise dues to pay stipends for faculty release time or to hire more staff.

Flanery was asked why Berkeley had not unionized. He responded that the BFA had become moribund for a time, but that now it had become rejuvenated and the issue of unionizing has been discussed again. Craig agreed that faculty don’t unionize when their pay falls behind peers, but they do when the whole structure seems threatened, when the university may become insolvent, when substantial loss of benefits are threatened, when significant changes in workload are threatened.

Since Craig, through his AAUP role, works with CSU faculty, he was asked about union action at CSU. Craig explained that the California Faculty Association represents both tenure and non-tenure track faculty at CSU (at UC non-tenure faculty are represented by AFT). The CFA is the most powerful faculty union in the US. Systemwide, 58% of CSU faculty are members of CFA. They have an agency fee of .75% of salary that all faculty pay (members and non-members), and a membership fee of 1% of salary. They are considering raising the agency fee to 1% of salary. CSU bargained furloughs with the CFA. They knew they had to. At CSU some furlough days are falling on instructional days.

Given that there are quite a few members of the DFA that are interested in unionizing, Flanery was asked what the next steps should be. He replied that he was not getting a strong sense that the majority of faculty are interested in unionizing on any of the campuses any time soon. However, the faculty at the University of Oregon, where things are much worse than at UC, is likely to unionize soon. If they do unionize, Oregon State is likely to follow. If those two systems unionize, the issue will rise again at UC. Unionization is a multiyear effort, so now is a good time to be laying the groundwork. Faculty visits sound awful, but they really aren’t. Stop in any faculty member’s office, ask them what they think about what is going on, and be prepared to listen for a long time.

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