Archive for December, 2010
At a recent meeting of the Davis Faculty Association Board, a number of hard decisions were made about the scope and direction of future activities. This has been a very active year for the DFA as well as the other UC campus associations. As you are aware, we are financed independently and do not receive UC-related support. Thus, we can take up issues directly with the UC Regents and we can lobby state legislators. Recent examples are concerns raised about strategies that have focused on post employment retirement and the nature of funding higher education.
Although inflation has been low in recent years, it has not been non-existent. More importantly, a large number of DFA members have retired in recent years and now no longer pay active member dues (emeritus members pay much reduced dues). Thus, our costs have gone up while our resources have dwindled. As a consequence, this year’s effort will be directed at recruitment and broadening our affiliations, such as developing stronger ties with AAUP. In the interim, it will be necessary to increase dues. As you may be aware, the DFA has a tiered dues structure, and the current board feels this is important to maintain. Thus dues for full professors will increase by $6 while dues for assistant and associate professors will stay at their current rate. The DFA board will also be asking for larger contributions from emeritus members. We all regret the need to increase dues, but the decision was needed to keep us going at our current level.
A primary goal is to continue a platform on which we can maintain a strong and independent voice. I would invite you to visit http://cucfa.org/accomplished.php in this regard. The faculty associations have addressed and influenced issues that range from requiring employee representation in UCRP’s governance to clarification that professors independently own their lectures. I will follow up in the new year with specific recruiting plans.
The Board welcomes any suggestions that you have regarding increasing our membership and activities that may contribute to even more visibility.
Robert Rucker on behalf of the DFA Board
The following is a press release that the Council of UC Faculty Associations distributed to media outlets:
At their Special Meeting on Monday, December 13, the Regents of the University of California will be making decisions on two significant issues – endorsing the principles of the UC Commission on the Future (UCOF) and drastically changing the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP).
“One thing we can agree on, said Robert Meister, President of the Council of UC Faculty Associations “is the first sentence of the UCOF Report: ‘UC is at a crossroads.’” Meister continued, “Unfortunately the University leadership has ignored the outcome of this year’s election and is about to enshrine outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vision of a privatized higher education system. The result will be a lower quality more expensive institution financed by ever increasing student debt.”
While faculty now use online tools to enhance their classroom teaching, CUCFA is concerned that the move toward fully online courses “taught” by non-research faculty and grad students, coupled with a push toward three-year degrees, means that future UC undergraduates will be trained in job skills rather than educated as citizens, leaders or thinkers. “On-line ed, apart from its notorious drop-out and failure rates, is designed to impart information, not create reflective, creative and articulate citizens,” argued Wendy Brown, co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association. She added, “the three year degree path will inevitably compress breadth and major requirements, discourage double majors and further attenuate aspects of an undergraduate education that broaden the individual and shape a thoughtful citizenry to engage an increasingly complex world.”
The UCOF also envisions increasing out-of-state undergraduate enrollment to raise more money. “Increasing out-of-state enrollment would raise revenues for only a few campuses—not the system as a whole—while decreasing the opportunity for Californians wishing to attend UC,” according to Meister. “The result,” he said, “will be increasing enrollment pressure on CSU and the Community Colleges.” To raise revenue, he argued “UC should make private businesses pay the full cost of the research they hire it to do, rather than losing money on such contracts as it presently does.”
CUCFA continued to express concern about proposals to reform the University of California Retirement Plan. Christine Rosen, Berkeley Faculty Association co-Chair and CUCFA Secretary, said, “I am still concerned about the inequitable two-tiered nature of the new proposal. Employees hired on or after July 1, 2013 will only have access to a pension plan with lower benefits.”
Rosen continued, “despite large increases in the UC and employer contributions, the new plan still does not adequately address the unfunded liability created by the 20-year suspension of contributions by the UC, the State of California, and UC’s employees.” It is not likely, she argued, that the still very vague proposal to borrow from the University’s Short-Term Investment Pool (STIP) and/or restructure University debt using STIP interest to fund the UCRP Annual Required Contribution (ARC) will be enough to raise the $4.5 billion needed to bridge the gap identified by the PEB Task Force between the funds raised by the contribution increase and the sum needed to fully fund the ARC prior to 2018, when contributions are supposed to reach a level where they can satisfy the ARC. Rosen also expressed concern that the plan seems to put UC on track to funding UC pension liabilities in part by charging employees more for health care. “The proposal to increase employee contributions to their healthcare premium, coupled with a big increase in employee contributions to their retirement plan, represents a cut in take home pay that will make it increasingly difficult for UC to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and staff.” Because this is happening without a plan to fully fund the ARC, she argues, the pension plan’s unfunded liability will continue to grow, putting its future increasingly at risk, despite the sacrifices UC and its employees are making to increase their contributions.
In his October 14 letter to President Yudof, CUCFA President Meister warned that, “a never-ending cycle of … more contribution increases, and more benefit cuts [would make] anticipated benefits … less cost effective, less calculable and less secure, [and lead] many lower and middle income employees [to] demand a defined contribution opt-out. Our defined benefits system would then collapse due to adverse selection.”
The UC Regents will be meeting on December 13th and voting on changes to post employment benefits as well as on recommendations from the UC Commission on the Future.
The relevant portions of the Regents agenda are:
UC Commission on the Future:
The Council of UC Faculty Associations has objected to portions of the proposed changes. Some of CUCFA’s objections to the post employment changes may be found at:
Some of CUCFA’s comments about Commission on the Future proposals were printed by the San Francisco Chronicle and can be read at:
But more on that subject is available at:
Wendy Brown, Berkley Faculty Association Co-Chair, and Dick Walker, BFA Vice Chair, will be speaking at the Regents meeting on behalf of CUCFA – Wendy about the Commission on the Future, Dick about post-employment benefit plans.