Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Despite removal of 70% retiree health care floor from July regents' agenda, issue isn't dead

Letter below reproduced by permission:

July 17, 2017

Dear President Napolitano,

The UC Berkeley Emeriti Association (UCBEA) is very troubled about the proposal to rescind the 70 percent floor for the University’s aggregate annual contribution to the retiree health benefit program.  Our concerns have been well articulated by our colleagues from other campuses.  Essentially, they are centered on two general themes: 
  • Governance: The agenda item was added without prior notification or consultation with the Academic Senates or the Councils of Emeriti and Retiree Associations.
  • Financial: There were no details as to the fiscal necessity of this proposed change, no analysis of the financial burden on retirees, and no mention of the impact this would have on recruiting and retaining faculty and staff.
While we appreciate the removal of the proposal from the July agenda, it apparently will be on the agenda for the September Regent’s Finance and Capital Strategies Committee.  In the interim, UCOP must be more sensitive to the long tradition of shared governance and consult with the various stakeholders such as the Academic Senates and the various emeriti associations.  Further, UCOP must be more transparent about the underlying data and analyses that led to this agenda item in the first place.

The emeriti of our wonderful university make an enormous contribution to scholarship and pedagogy.  I draw your attention to John Vohs’ “Eleventh Campus” (see link: and the contribution of UC Berkeley’s emeriti to our campus (see link:

By placing such an important item on the Regent’s agenda without prior consultation and discussion is, at best, disrespectful to our emeriti.  The following recent communication (with his permission) by Professor Emeritus Richard Mathies captures the frustration we have been hearing from many of our colleagues: “Hmmm--- So I have been writing grants, doing research, and advising students and postdocs for free since July of 2013, just brought in a $3M grant from NASA that will support a lot of people at Berkeley (and hopefully lead to putting an instrument on Enceladus and or Europa) brought in many millions of dollars of royalty payments into the campus over the years, and the Regents want to secretly reduce their support for my retiree health care!  Its insulting to see how they respect and reward 40 years working for this institution. I am changing my will terms.  Not your fault but perhaps you can use this message to influence someone.”

We look forward to your acting on our concerns before this issue is brought to the Regents.

On behalf of UCBEA, sincerely yours,

John Swartzberg

President, UCBEA

No comments: