Saturday, August 8, 2015

Task force charged with making a silk purse out of you-know-what

From the UCLA Newsroom:

UC task force named to advise on 2016 retirement benefits

President Napolitano has appointed a systemwide task force of UC faculty, staff and administrators to help develop a new set of retirement benefits options for UC to offer future employees hired on or after July 1, 2016. The task force will meet today for the first time and is expected to deliver its recommendations to the president by early 2016.

New retirement benefits options are being developed as a result of the budget agreement between UC and state leaders, which includes nearly $500 million to help pay down UC’s unfunded pension liability. In exchange for this pension funding, Gov. Brown and the Legislature are requiring UC to align pension-eligible pay for future employees with that of state employees. As President Napolitano noted in a recent letter to the UC community about the budget agreement, the new retirement benefits only apply to future UC employees — retirement benefits for current employees and retirees are not affected.

President Napolitano has stressed to task force members that their recommendations must meet two important criteria:

  • That UC retirement benefits continue to be competitive in the context of total employee compensation;
  • And that the UC Retirement Plan remains financially sustainable.
The members of the task force are:

  • Rachael Nava, chair of the task force, executive vice president and chief operating officer, University of California
  • James Chalfant, professor of agricultural and resource economics, UC Davis
  • Lori Lubin, professor of physics, UC Davis
  • David Lawlor, vice chancellor and chief financial officer, UC Davis
  • Shane White, professor, UCLA School of Dentistry
  • Dan Hare, professor of entomology, UC Riverside; incoming chair of the UC Academic Senate
  • Deidre Acker, systemwide UC Staff Advisor and ombudsperson, UC Merced
  • Maria Anguiano, vice chancellor for planning and budget, UC Riverside
  • Greta Carl-Halle, chair of the Council of UC Staff Assemblies and business officer, UC Santa Barbara
  • David Marshall, executive vice chancellor, UC Santa Barbara
  • Pierre Ouillet, vice chancellor and chief financial officer, UC San Diego
  • David Odato, associate vice chancellor and chief administrative officer, UC San Francisco Medical Center
The task force is expected to meet approximately every two weeks through December 2015.
The design of the new retirement benefits options will be informed and guided by input from members of the UC community, including UC regents, faculty, staff, union leaders and other stakeholders. As with previous pension reforms, retirement benefit changes for union-represented employees will be subject to collective bargaining, and union leaders will help determine choices for their future members.


The problem here is that the UC prez's deal with the governor (but not with the legislature) is a fait accompli. As pointed out in prior posts, the legislature has not acknowledged any commitment beyond one year to contributing to the UC pension. Indeed, it officially takes the position that it has no real commitment at all unlike its obligation to CSU's CalPERS-based pension plan.
  • Can the taskforce address the problem of lack of legislative commitment? 
  •  Can it prevent UCRP from eventually becoming an orphan plan?
  •  Can it make whatever it comes up with contingent on what happens with regard to the pending pension ballot initiative?
The problem here is not the task force. The problem is that there was no such task force involved in advising the UC prez on whether she should have negotiated the deal in the first place.

At this point, what exactly has the UC prez given the task force to work with? Seems like not a lot:

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