Davis Faculty Association

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Starving the Beast, the March for Science, and Nationwide May 1 Actions

Dear Davis Faculty Association Colleagues,

Thanks to the many of you who came out to watch the film Starving the Beast and meet with filmmaker Steven Mims. I think we would all agree it is a valuable and well-made film. The Davis Humanities Institute reviewed the event for their recent newsletter.

If you missed the film screening, we may be able to accommodate a smaller screening. Contact the DFA if you are interested.

On another note, this Saturday April 22 is the National March for Science. The Davis Faculty Association is a co-sponsor of the Sacramento March for Science, and you can find more information on this link. Hope to see some of you there:

Finally, there is a national day of action planned for May 1 of this year initiated by numerous labor, social justice, and immigrant organizations. There is a call for university participation in support of these actions.

Feel free to forward this information to others you may know who are not currently DFA members.

Have a fun and safe Picnic Day!

Jesse Drew and Richard Scalettar
Co-Chairs of the Davis Faculty Association

“Starving the Beast” Screening and Director’s Talk

The DFA is hosting a screening of STARVING THE BEAST followed by a talk by that film’s director, Steve Mims, on the current situation confronting public universities. “Starving the Beast” is a documentary about the crises in education that has been receiving acclaim around the US and has served to create community conversations about the way forward. The film will show on campus on Thursday, April 13 at 4:30 PM in the Art Annex main room.

About the film: STARVING THE BEAST examines the on-going power struggle on college campuses across the nation as political and market-oriented forces push to disrupt and reform America’s public universities. The film documents a philosophical shift that seeks to reframe public higher education as a ‘value proposition’ to be borne by the beneficiary of a college degree rather than as a ‘public good’ for society. Financial winners and losers emerge in a struggle poised to profoundly change public higher education. The film focuses on dramas playing out at the University of Wisconsin, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, Louisiana State University, University of Texas and Texas A&M.

Statement on Betsy DeVos Nomination

The nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education raises alarms that the new administration will fail to support college access and affordability for millions of current and future college students. Her nomination signals a blatant disregard for not only the magnitude of college debt plaguing our students but also the widespread fraud that has been exposed in the for-profit sector across the country. It also reveals an irresponsible resistance to protecting students from sexual assault, gun violence, ensuring the rights of immigrants, and students with disabilities.

Equally troubling, at her confirmation hearing and in the disclosure of her extensive financial entanglements, DeVos refused to commit to enforcing existing laws protecting students from fraudulent practices. Her financial connections to a student loan collection agency and inexperience managing the trillion dollar student loan portfolio that would be her responsibility reinforce her unsuitability for the position.

Her responses to questions in her confirmation hearing raised concerns about the safety of students on our campuses. When asked about Title IX, DeVos indicated that as Secretary she would refuse to ensure that existing campus sexual assault prevention and response processes are respected and improved. She also refused to endorse a ban on guns in K-12 schools, suggesting that she would take a similar position with respect to college campuses.

DeVos also demonstrated a woeful ignorance of the federal scope of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act; her lack of understanding puts the rights of all students with disabilities at risk. We also do not know if she would respect the protections of DACA on which DREAMER students depend for their safety and protection.

In short, we believe that Betsy DeVos is singularly unqualified to fulfill the Department of Education’s obligation to ensure that all students who seek a college education will have fair access and will receive the highest quality education possible with a minimum of debt. Her lack of experience and expertise is a black hole into which the nation’s students, faculty, and campus communities cannot afford to be pushed.

We urge you to call your Senators IMMEDIATELY urging them to reject Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of Education. More powerful would be calling key Senators in other states, if you have an appropriate nexus. A list of Senators and contact information for them is available here.

The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s Master Plan for Higher Education

On Thursday, January 26, the UC Regents will consider and likely approve their budget for the University for 2017-2018. It and the Governor’s budget, to which it is closely tied, perpetuate decades of failed privatization and persistent under funding of the University and of public higher education more generally. At UC and as compared to both 1990-1991 and 2000-2001, total per student expenditures for instruction and the State general fund contribution to per student instruction are sharply down while the inflation-adjusted contributions from students through tuition and fees are 70% higher than they were in 2000-2001 and 135% higher than they were in 1990-1991. Students and their families are paying more and getting less.

It has become conventional “wisdom” that this continuing decline is inevitable and that viable alternatives do not exist.

The report The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s MASTER PLAN for Higher Education demonstrates that there is an affordable alternative that restores public higher education in California.

“It turns out that keeping the full promise of the Master Plan-returning the state’s investment per CSU and UC student to 2000 levels (inflation-adjusted); eliminating tuition and fees for all in-state UC, CSU and CCC students; and funding seats for qualified California high-school graduates now refused access to the system-is affordable.”

“California’s two-decade experiment in privatizing higher education has failed, as it has failed in the rest of the country. Top-quality, accessible and appropriate higher education that affords opportunity to all California students has been replaced with a system that restricts access, costs students more and compromises educational quality. Exploding student debt constricts students’ futures and harms the economy as a whole. It is entirely feasible to reinstate California’s proven success in public higher education. Several reasonable funding options can be mixed and matched to make the costs remarkably low for almost all California families. Our state has the means and the opportunity. Will we recover our political will and vision?”

This report was produced by the Reclaim California Higher Education coalition, which includes the Council of University of California Faculty Associations and other organizations dedicated to affordable, accessible, and excellent public higher education in California.

Have a Drink on us, June 7th at Sudwerk

The Board of the Davis Faculty Association invites all DFA members to join company over a beer – or other drink – at Davis’s Sudwerk restaurant at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, June 7th. Bring your colleagues and we will treat them too.

Come discuss the issues confronting UCD. We want to hear about your concerns, your suggestions, and any other input you may have for the Board of the DFA. To be effective in representing you, we need your help.

Please forward this message to your colleagues! As the University of California continues to face challenges, we need concerted action as much as ever.

Please join us on the 7th.

We Supports the UC Academic Senate Resolution Rejecting the “2016 Tier Pension Plan”

On February 10, 2016, the Assembly of the Academic Senate of the University of California adopted the following resolution and sent it to UC President Janet Napolitano:

The Assembly rejects the imposition of the PEPRA cap on the University of California and the discontinuation of the current pension plan in the absence of any plan or program to fund or to provide compensating increases in total remuneration, so as to prevent harming the mission of the University of California by eroding its ability to recruit and retain the best faculty. [1]

The Council of UC Faculty Associations strongly supports this resolution and calls on President Napolitano and the UC Regents to reject this disastrous, ill-conceived and unnecessary plan.

Background:

In fall 2015, President Napolitano and Governor Jerry Brown, the so-called Committee of Two, engaged in private talks about UC’s budget and pension plan. As part of their negotiations, Napolitano agreed to a new “2016 tier” to UC’s retirement plan that would limit the amount of covered compensation that can be used in calculating retirement income based on the 2013 Public Employee’s Reform Act (PEPRA) legislation ($117,020 in 2016), which was designed to address instability and the high cost of the California Employee’s Pension System (CalPERS). In response to Napolitano and Brown’s deal, the Regents appointed a Retirement Options Task Force (ROTF) that proposed two plans for a new 2016 tier. [2]

The proposed 2016 tier and adoption of the PEPRA cap would create inferior retirement options for future faculty (who are more likely to be women or under-represented minorities), create a two-tier retirement system and further undermine total compensation for faculty. The proposals will greatly weaken the University’s ability to recruit and retain the top faculty, undermine UC’s ability to make the competitive offers necessary to recruit and retain outstanding faculty members, and increase inequities between the UC campuses while doing little to address the unfunded liability of UC Retirement Plan.

In addition, the process that led to the decision to adopt the PEPRA cap and institute a new retirement tier lacked transparency, careful deliberation, and adequate consultation with the Senate.

We continue to collect UC employee signatures in opposition to these proposed changes at: http://www.protectmypension.org/

 

[1] The full text of the resolution: http://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/reports/documents/AssemblyPensionResolution2-10-16.pdf

The full Academic Senate letter and divisional reports on the new retirement plan: http://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/reports/documents/DH_JN_ROTF_2-12-16.pdf

[2] For an analysis of the proposals, see Celeste Langan, “Retirement plan impacts entire community,” http://www.dailycal.org/2016/02/12/343390/

Act now to prevent further degradation of our retirement system

The University of California is currently considering introducing a new  pension plan for its employees hired after 2016. These proposed changes  will dramatically reduce pension benefits for most new faculty.

The Davis Academic Senate is planning to have two town hall events  to discuss these proposals, one on Monday, January 25, at 10 am, at the  UCD Med Center’s Center for Health and Technology lecture hall 1341. The  other on January 28, at 10 am, in MU II. Please attend to learn more details or  to express your opinion on these issues.

The Davis Academic Senate has also set up a comment form at where you can express your concerns about this plan.

Your opportunity to provide input to the Senate lasts just a couple  weeks. For some purposes, it will be most effective to provide input  this week.

Please read on for additional background and contact information.

This ill-conceived and ill-advised plan, which was negotiated behind  closed doors by President Napolitano and Governor Brown without any  engagement with the Academic Senate, the Regents, the Legislature, or  the larger university community, will do serious damage to the quality  of the University of California.

While the details are highly technical

the implications are not:

1) This is a serious cut in benefits to faculty and many other  professional staff, such as staff scientists and nurses, hired after  July 2016. (See pages 44, 45 and 84 of the task force report.)

2) UC faculty are already much more poorly compensated than faculty at  UC’s peer institutions despite the fact that the cost of living in most  parts of California is very high.

This plan will make it much harder to attract faculty and other  professionals and keep them here.

3) This plan does not do anything to make the existing pension system  healthier and could actually decrease the rate at which the unfunded  liability is retired. (See page 57 of the task force report.)

We agree with the assessment of Academic Senate leaders J. Daniel Hare  and James A. Chalfant’s analysis who concluded:

“If salaries don’t increase to compensate for these reduced benefits,  then UC will have to settle for a lower-quality of faculty who did not  receive better offers elsewhere. Many UC faculty members were hired in  spite of more lucrative salary offers elsewhere, just as many have  either declined outside offers or declined to pursue them. It may have been true at one time that benefits made up for our uncompetitive  salaries. The 2014 Total Remuneration Study showed that no longer to be  the case. While salaries and benefits continue to lag, and we are  contemplating making the lag even greater with the new-tier options, it  is important to note that most of the non-pecuniary attributes of UC  employment also are declining.”

As Academic Senate Chair Dan Hare stated in his remarks to the Regents  in September:

“Any reduction in either salary or benefits surely will have  consequences for the ability of UC to build and retain a future faculty  that is as distinguished as the current faculty. As recommendations are  brought forward in early 2016, I encourage the Regents to carefully  consider not only the budgetary cost of future retirement options, but  also their impact on how faculty members behave in terms of recruitment  and retention. If we are not careful, small budgetary savings will risk  far greater costs to the University, our students, and the citizens of
California.”

We urge you to sign our petition http://www.protectmypension.org/to  express your opposition to proposed changes to the UC Retirement Plan.  We will forward the names of those that sign to local campus faculty  welfare committees so they are aware of local concern about this issue.

UCOP President Janet Napolitano has also invited faculty feedback. Please consider  sending a copy of your comments to us at newtier@cucfa.org.

Petition opposing changes to the UC retirement plan

The Davis Faculty Association, via the Council of UC Faculty Associations, is a member of the UC Union Coalition. A Union Coalition petition in opposition to detrimental changes to UC pension benefits is available here:

http://www.protectmypension.org/

Please read it and consider joining in the opposition to changes that would harm the quality of the university.

Some background material about this issue:

Following unfortunate developments in the Governor Brown/President Napolitano Committee of Two, the Governor’s budget May revise, and the final State budget, the 2016 Retirement Options Task Force has been working to modify key elements of retirement benefits for faculty and other employees hired after June 30, 2016. The Task Force sent its report to President Napolitano on Dec. 15, 2015. The report will be widely released on January 15.

Although we have not seen the report, the information that is currently available indicates that it will recommend changes that are detrimental to the University and to future employees. In particular, it will concede to the President’s decision in the Committee of Two to impose a lower cap on pensionable income for future employees. This will likely be only partly compensated for by a defined contribution supplemental plan.

Available information also indicates that the report fails to oppose the offering of a full defined contribution plan, which new employees can select rather than the current defined benefits of the UC Retirement Plan.

We have already written about the harm that will be done to the University if these changes are adopted:

http://cucfa.org/2015/11/uc-task-force-considering-pension-cuts/

By reducing total compensation, these proposals will reduce the ability of UC to recruit and retain top quality faculty and staff.

Please consider objecting to these changes by signing the petition at:

http://www.protectmypension.org/

Join us for Lunch December 9, Noon

The Board of the Davis Faculty Association invites all interested UCD faculty to join us for lunch (pizza, salad, beer, sandwiches, etc), our treat, at Steve’s Place Pizza on F street in Davis, starting at noon on Wednesday, December 9th.

Come discuss the issues confronting UC with the Board of the DFA. We want to hear about your concerns, your suggestions, and any other input you may have. To be effective in representing you, we need your help.

And please invite your colleagues. As the University of California continues to face challenges, we need concerted action as much as ever.

UC task force considering pension cuts – we need your help

President Napolitano has charged a task force with developing a new 2016 UC Retirement Plan tier for faculty and other employees hired after June 30, 2016. We urge you to read CUCFA’s letter which details the proposed changes to the UC Retirement Plan and lays out the threat they pose to overall compensation for new faculty, as well as for the health of the pension system for all faculty. The letter includes a link and a pdf version with the names of faculty and task force representatives to whom concerns can be directed.

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