UC Workers Ask Chancellor To Void Pension Proposals

Along with workers in seven other UC campuses in the statewide action, workers held enlarged checks reading “Pay to the Order of UC Executives: $180,000” that were “void due to inequity,” signed by Yudof.

“We wanted to give a message to President Yudof that as fees increase retirement income for top executives, he’s cutting low-wage workers,” lead organizer Matias Marin said.

The workers asked the Chancellor to deliver the message and the enlarged check at the next Regents’ meeting on Nov. 16 to Yudof.

“The chancellor wasn’t there but we left a message. She is usually good at delivering the message,” Marin said. “Our hope is that she delivers the check with the specified amount of money that [Yudof] is giving himself as a retirement and that we as the UC community are voiding that check because it’s immoral.”

Yudof is  currently receiving feedback from the UC community before presenting the recommendations — which was put together by UC Post-Employment Benefit Task Force — for discussion. The Regents will act on the proposed changes in December.

Currently, 2 percent of employee earnings and 4 percent of employer earnings are directed to the retirement plan.

In the proposals made on Sept. 16, employees will contribute 3.5 percent of their salary to the retirement plan — which includes pension and retiree health benefits — beginning July 2011 while the UC system will contribute 6 percent.

Starting July 2012, employee contributions will then increase to 7 percent while the UC system will pay 10 percent

“Though employees will pay more toward pension benefits in the coming years — at levels similar to those paid by employees at other organizations- — UC will continue to offer the same pension benefits under the same terms to current employees, ” UCOP spokesperson Steve Montiel said in an email.

For represented employees, any changes to retirement benefits are subject to collective bargaining, Montiel said. In addition, accrued pension benefits are protected andcannot be reduced or revoked.

The reform plan is an attempt to reduce the program’s $14 billion funding deficit.

At the latest Board of Regents meeting, a pension panel discussed recommendations to the plan and several alternative solutions were proposed — for example, retirement income could be maintained or increased for employees who earn $180,000 or above, while low-wage workers would receive a decreased income.

The Board of Regents will discuss a final plan together and vote in December.

According to Marin, this plan would cut low-wage workers’ retirement by 50 percent.

In addition, Marin said the UC system promised to pay 60 percent of the pensions 20 years ago but is currently paying 4 percent.

According to a report on the plan, due to a 20-year funding surplus neither UC nor its employees needed to contribute toward the cost of pension benefits.

“Instead of giving fee increases to executives, they should stop cutting worker retirement, worker wages and also stop increasing fees for students,” Marin said. “The cuts that UC executives are proposing hurt our economy because if workers don’t have a dignified retirement when they retire, they’re going to be using taxpayers’ dollars in health care. When they get old, the community is going to have to pay for them instead of the UC giving them a dignified, fair and just retirement.”

Marin and the workers are part of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is a statewide union made up of 20,000 UC service and patient care workers like custodians, groundskeepers, shuttle drivers and radiologic technicians.

At UCSD alone, there are 3,000 workers in the union.

“It was a very small delegation,” Marin said. “It was just to deliver the message very quick.”

Chancellor Fox could not be reached for comment.

Readers can contact Regina Ip at [email protected].

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