UC Academic Senate rejects task force’s proposed retirement benefits plan

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In a letter addressed to UC President Janet Napolitano, the Assembly of the university’s Academic Senate rejected a plan to restructure employee retirement benefits.

The plan comes as a result of the 2015 budget agreement between Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown, in which the university was promised additional funding in return for creating a new benefits plan that would abide by the pensionable compensation limit of $117,020 imposed by the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act, or PEPRA.

Napolitano convened a UC task force last summer to draft recommendations for new retirement benefits options that would abide by the compensation limits and ensure the future financial stability of the UC system and its retirement program, according to a UC press release.

The task force proposed a benefits plan in which employees can choose between two options. The new plan creates two pension options for UC employees hired on or after July 1.

At the January meeting of the UC Board of Regents, protesters representing UC employees voiced opposition to the recommendations. Critics of the proposed benefits plan have said it would harm the competitiveness of the university by diminishing its ability to attract top-tier faculty and researchers, who might receive higher remunerations at competing institutions.

The Academic Senate echoed these concerns in its letter to Napolitano.

“The assembly rejects the imposition of the PEPRA cap on the University of California and the discontinuation of the current pension plan … so as to prevent the harming of the mission of the University of California by eroding its ability to recruit and retain the best faculty,” the letter stated.

The proposed benefits plan constitutes a decrease in overall remuneration, which may prompt new employees to expect salary increases, according to Academic Senate chair Daniel Hare. He added that the cost of increasing salaries would outweigh the savings of implementing the new retirement benefits plan.

“We need to maintain the competitive total remuneration, and the current proposals available are unable to do that,” Hare said. “There may be a need for additional proposals.”

With the feedback she receives on the recommended benefits options, Napolitano is expected to submit a proposal to the UC Board of Regents in March.

Ivana Saric is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ivanas26.