UC reaches new pension, health care agreement with union

The University of California announced Monday that it finalized an agreement with a union representing research and technical employees in which both the university and the union will increase contributions to the university’s underfunded pension plan.

Under the agreement, members of the University Professional and Technical Employees union will contribute 3.5 percent of their salaries to the UC Retirement Plan retroactive to July 1, 2011, and 5 percent of their pay starting this July. The agreement, which union members ratified mid-January, requires union employees to pay the same retirement and health care rates as the general UC employee population.

“I think there were many pluses and minuses with the agreement,” said Tanya Smith, an editor at the UC Berkeley Archaeological Research Facility and president of the union’s local office, which covers the campus and the UC Office of the President. “We got to form committees to work with the university to look at future health care costs and employee benefits, so we’re happy with that.”

The UC will also raise its contributions to the retirement plan, according to a press release from the president’s office.

“The university is doing its part to ensure (the retirement plan’s) long-term viability by contributing 7 percent, up from 4 percent last year,” the release states, adding that the university will increase its contribution to 10 percent beginning July 1.

According to the release, about 8,700 employees will be affected by the agreement.

UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said the university is satisfied with the arrangement, which she said could potentially be up for negotiation with the rest of the current contract upon its expiration in June 2013.

“What’s really key is that the employees are now going to be paying the same rates as everyone else at UC,” Klein said. “The agreement puts them in line with everyone else.”

This agreement is similar to the new December contract the university reached with the Coalition of University Employees, which also requires union members to contribute the same percentage of pay to retirement as other UC employees. However, the agreement for professional and technical employees operates under the union’s existing contract.

“This type of agreement is called a ‘re-opener,’” Klein said. “None of the other provisions were dealt with.”