Sunday, August 23, 2015

The outside pension threat differs from UC's internal threat

What you see above are different faces of a campaign by various unions representing folks covered by CalPERS. All of these three online efforts are currently aimed at the proposed pension initiative that would, over time, essentially kill defined-benefit public plans (such as the one covering UC employees).

While the pension initiative threat seems to have receded for now with the absence of funding to mount a viable signature-gathering campaign, the immediate pension problem for UC differs in an important way. The proposed pension initiative is an external threat. It was not generated by CalPERS or any state entity. The threat to UC is internal since it was negotiated by the UC prez as part of the "Committee of Two" deal. Given that fact, no one within the UC establishment - and certainly not within the Regents - can admit that "mistakes were made." For example, did the UC prez realize that the pension cap she negotiated is not just a cap on the final monthly pension but on the portion of salary that the pension would cover. That is, it would reduce the pensions of faculty who would not earn a pension as high as the cap. The fix that is needed to repair the damage - assuming that nothing can be done about the deal itself - is therefore not simple. Moreover, as a practical matter, a deal/fix has to be designed in the next few months. Unlike the 2010 UC pension changes, there is little time for the kind of forums and participation that occurred back then.

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