Statement to UC Regents about new UCRS tier

Professor Celeste Langan spoke on behalf of the UC Faculty Associations at the July 22, 2015 UC Regents meeting, during the public comment period. Below is a copy of her full comments:

As co-Chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association and on behalf of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, I wish to address the Regents concerning the third discussion item of the Finance Committee agenda, item F3, “Update on Final 2015-16 Budget.”  The update, produced by the Office of the President, misleadingly claims that the final budget “incorporates the funding framework developed by UC and the Governor.” If you’ll recall, the “framework” of the May Revise proposed that the state make a contribution of $436 million toward the unfunded liability of the UC Retirement Plan.  The final budget, however, promises only a “one-time payment” of $96 million; there is nothing in the budget that commits the state to two additional payments of $170 million.  Yet even this meager one-time payment is contingent upon Regential approval of a cap on pensionable salary consistent with PEPRA (Public Employee Pension Reform Act) for employees hired after July 1, 2016.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations is opposed to the University making permanent changes in the structure of its retirement plan in exchange for a very modest one-time contribution from the State. We are especially opposed to the introduction of a full defined-contribution option.  There is absolutely no justification for the proposed introduction of a full defined-contribution option; neither the Legislature nor the Governor called for the introduction of a Defined Contributions plan in aligning the UCRP with PEPRA. Yet UCOP seems bent on introducing such an option, to the point that their statement exposes their intention as a foregone conclusion rather than a possible outcome of consultation and deliberation — those elements of what we once understood as “shared governance.”

I call your attention to the third paragraph on page 3 of the F3 agenda item.  First OP declares, “The President will convene a retirement options task force to advise on the design of new retirement options that will include the pensionable salary cap consistent with PEPRA.  The retirement options will be brought to the Regents next year for review and approval.” But apparently the “design of new retirement options” is a fait accompli, for the penultimate sentence of that paragraph declares, “new employees will have the opportunity to choose a fully defined contribution plan as a retirement option, as an alternative to the PEPRA-capped defined benefit plan.”

Since the two minutes allotted in the public comments session is the temporal equivalent of Twitter’s 140 characters, let me ask: #What’s up with UCOP?  If I had to speculate, I’d say that UCOP’s attempt to replace Defined Benefits with Defined Contributions suggests its preference for a mobile, “flexible,” precarious professoriate with a consequently short-term institutional memory — a professoriate that wouldn’t recall that only 6 years ago, the relative merits of defined contribution versus defined benefit plans were thoroughly, carefully, and widely discussed by UC constituents. Given substantial evidence that defined benefits are more cost-efficient than defined contributions in achieving the same level of benefits, it was agreed that the University of California was best served by continuing with UCRP as a defined benefit plan. Thus in 2010, when the President recommended and the Regents endorsed pension reforms, UCRP was preserved as a defined benefit plan.

Ironically, the paragraph in question concludes, “For represented groups, retirement options will be subject to collective bargaining.” Well, the UC Faculty Associations represent a good number of those faculty, members of the Academic Senate, without collective bargaining rights, and we say that UCOP has vitiated the interests of that faculty, both those vested in the current UCRP and those who will be hired after 2016.  We deplore the introduction of a different tier of faculty benefits, but we firmly oppose the attempt of UCOP to introduce a fully defined contribution plan in this untoward and unjustified manner.

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IFA Statement in Support of Wisconsin Faculty

The IFA opposes the alarming attack on tenure at our fellow public university system, the University of Wisconsin, and calls on President Napolitano and the UC Regents to affirm unambiguously the UC’s commitment to tenure and to academic freedom.

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CUCFA Governance Questionnaire, 2015

Dear Faculty Association Member,

The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) is working to assess recent challenges to UC faculty governance. Please write to us at  outreach@cucfa.org and answer YES, NO, or I DON’T KNOW to the first 2 questions.

1. Have faculty at your UC participated adequately in searches for administrative positions of Dean or above?

2. Do you find that important academic decisions that used to or should be the provenance of faculty at your UC (from hiring to school restructuring and policies) are being made or impinged upon by administrators?

3. Overall, what grade would you give to ‘shared governance’ at your UC over the last 3 years?

If you know of specific instances of good or bad shared governance practices at your UC, please fill out, anonymously or not, in part or more fully, our Survey on UC Governance available at:

http://cucfa.org/uc-governance-questionnaire/

You are also welcome to contact the CUCFA subcommittee on governance.

Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,
Claudio Fogu, UCSB, claudiofogu@gmail.com
Eyal Amiran, UCI, eyal.amiran@gmail.com

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Petition to protect UC healthcare options

Update: The healthcare petition was sent to President Napolitano on April 7, 2015. It generated 2,611 signatures, the vast majority senate faculty. We hear that the plans have been postponed, perhaps indefinitely. We would like to think our efforts played a role in their pushback. We hope that the energy and concern generated this time can be sustained in the future, should it become necessary to mobilize again.

The original announcement and call for signatures is below:

**********************

Dear Faculty Colleague,

As you may be aware, the University of California is considering restructuring the provision of medical plans for its employees across the ten campuses of the system. These changes would have a dramatic impact upon the health care options currently available to faculty and other UC employees. In brief, the plan is to create a new UC Care HMO program that will replace Health Net and possibly Kaiser. The aim is to generate savings for the university by forcing UC employees into a monopoly healthcare system that will be both less convenient and more expensive to use, as well as cause severe inequities of provision between campuses.

More details can be found in a letter that the CUCFA Board (CUCFA is the systemwide organization of faculty associations that the Berkeley Faculty Association belongs to) has written and plans to send to President Napolitano, asking her to undertake serious study of the manifold consequences of this plan and to make transparent the financial projections driving it. We would like for faculty to add their names to this letter so that President Napolitano sees how important these health care options are to us. If you are a UC faculty member, please add your name to the letter by visiting:

http://cucfa.org/healthcare-options-petition/

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Continuing deterioration of compensation and benefits

A year ago, the Berkeley Faculty Association drew the attention of faculty across the ten campuses of the University of California to the continuing degradation of their pensions, benefits and salaries.

Faculty were, they noted, still underpaid in relation to their peers at competitor institutions. Despite this salary gap they were being increasingly asked to pay more but get less from their health insurance and pensions. Moreover, the introduction of a new and less generous pension ‘tier’ for those hired after 2013, last year’s chaotic roll out of the new health plans with the prestige UC Care option working only on campuses with medical schools, and the cutting adrift of out of state retirees from all health plans with a good luck lump sum payment of $3,000, created new inequities between UC faculty.

This analysis has recently been confirmed by UCOP’s own study of total remuneration. The executive summary of this document contains the following depressing bullet points:

• Between 2009 and 2014, UC’s total remuneration fell from 2% below market to 10% below market.

• Health and welfare benefits fell from 6% above market in 2009 to 7% below market in 2014, primarily caused by higher medical employee contributions at higher salary bands compared to the market.

• Changes to retirement plan designs since 2009 reduced positioning against market from 29% above market to 2% below market.

• Total retirement decreased from 33% above market to 6% above market.

• Total benefits decreased from 18% above market to 1% below market.

It is the first UCOP study to compare the new (2103) and old (1976) tier benefits for UC faculty with equally depressing results.

• New tier retirement benefits (the defined benefit plan) are valued 16% below old tier retirement benefits.

• New tier retiree health benefits (medical, life, dental) are valued 23% below old tier retiree health benefits.

• New tier retirement benefits (defined benefit plan plus retiree health) are 17% lower than the old tier.

In short, we have moved to a new system where the old deferred benefits of our pension and healthcare helped offset lower salaries to one in which the cash compensation of salaries still lag behind our competitors and in addition benefits have now also been reduced to a point where they are below comparable institutions. In 2009 UC cash compensation by salary represented 68% of total remuneration, yet for assistant professors in 2014 it represents 86%.

The IFA and the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) believe that it will be difficult to retain and protect the quality of UC faculty if their salaries remain uncompetitive and their benefits and retirement packages continue to erode.

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CUCFA statement on UC’s planned tuition increases

Below please find a letter that The Council of UC Faculty Associations
(CUCFA), the systemwide organization of which the Irvine Faculty
Association is a member, sent today to President Napolitano and the UC
Regents regarding their recent proposal to raise tuition up to 5% per
year for the next five years.

___________________________________

The Council of UC Faculty Associations holds Governor Jerry Brown’s
slashing of public higher education responsible for UC President
Napolitano’s recent proposal to budget for 5% tuition increases every
year for the next 5 years.

Raising tuition is not the solution. There is a better way: provide
California students and their families high quality, affordable higher
education, as defined by the California Master Plan for Higher Education.

The reality is that Governor Brown has not been willing to spend the
necessary money to do so even though the cost to do so is surprisingly low.

Here are the financial facts:

• In 2001-02, Gov. Gray Davis provided $3.2 billion ($4.4 billion in
2014 dollars) to the University of California. Tuition was $3,964.

• On taking office in 2003, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut UC’s budget
by 15% to $2.7 billion and pressed for rapid tuition hikes to shift
costs on to students and their families. By the time Gov. Schwarzenegger
left office in 2011, he was providing just $2.9 billion to UC. Tuition
had tripled to $11,279.

• Brown cut UC’s provision to $2.4 billion in his first budget (2011-12).

• While Brown has provided small increases to UC in the last 3 years,
his 2014-15 budget only includes $2.8 billion for UC, more than
one-third less (in real dollars) than Gov. Davis provided more than a
decade before.

• At the same time that governors have cut support for UC by one-third,
the university’s student body has grown by nearly one-third: from
183,000 to 238,000 students as UC continued to meet its Master Plan
obligations.

• While Governor Brown appealed to UC students to help pass Proposition
30 in 2012, he has only allocated 4.5% of the money it raised to UC.

UC’s leaders have responded to these unprecedented cuts by reducing
budgets for teaching and research, boosting class sizes, shifting
administrative tasks to faculty (leaving less time for students and
research), admitting more out-of-state students, and massive tuition
hikes that tripled tuition in 15 years.

Along with his legacy of high-speed trains and long-distance water
tunnels, Governor Brown needs to restore the promise of the California
Master Plan for Higher Education:

• He should budget for all public higher education, including the State
University and Community College systems, at levels that will return
them to where they were in 2001-2002, adjusted for inflation and student
population growth.

• Tuition should not merely be capped but rolled back to 2001-2002
levels, inflation adjusted ($4,717 for the University of California,
compared to the $13,860 planned for UC next year).

Unlike many dreams, offering affordable, high quality public higher
education to all is a bargain. It would cost the median California
household just $50 a year.  (Details of calculation at
http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/3553/restore-2013-14.)

The UC Regents and President Napolitano must represent not only the
institutional interests of UC students, staff and faculty but also the
fundamental public interest of all Californians to restore one of the
few fair-minded systems of advancement still open to anyone, from any
background, who works hard and demonstrates talent.

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CUCFA Statement on “Civility” and Academic Freedom

On Friday Sept. 5, Chancellor Dirks of UC Berkeley circulated an open statement to his campus community that sought to define the limits of appropriate debate at Berkeley. Issued as the campus approaches the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, Chancellor Dirks’ statement, with its evocation of civility, echoes language recently used by the Chancellor of the University of Illinois, Urbana and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (especially its Chair Christopher Kennedy) concerning the refused appointment of Steven Salaita. It also mirrors language in the effort by the University of Kansas Board of Regents to regulate social media speech and the Penn State administration’s new statement on civility. Although each of these administrative statements have responded to specific local events, the repetitive invocation of “civil” and “civility” to set limits to acceptable speech bespeaks a broader and deeper challenge to intellectual freedom on college and university campuses.

CUCFA Board has been gravely concerned about the rise of this discourse on civility in the past few months, but we never expected it to come from the Chancellor of UC Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. To define “free speech and civility” as “two sides of the same coin,” and to distinguish between “free speech and political advocacy” as Chancellor Dirk does in his text, not only turns things upside down, but it does so in keeping with a relentless erosion of shared governance in the UC system, and the systemic downgrading of faculty’s rights and prerogatives. Chancellor Dirks errs when he conflates free speech and civility because, while civility and the exercise of free speech may coexist harmoniously, the right to free speech not only permits, but is designed to protect uncivil speech. Similarly, Chancellor Dirks is also wrong when he affirms that there exists a boundary between “free speech and political advocacy” because political advocacy is the apotheosis of free speech, and there is no “demagoguery” exception to the First Amendment.

Before the slippery slope of civility discourse we remark that the right to free speech is not limited to allowing the act of speaking or engaging in communicative actions to express ideas publicly, nor is it contingent on the notion that anyone else needs to listen, agree, speak back, or “feel safe.” The right to free speech is constituted through prohibitions on the infringement of speech by the state and other public institutions and officials. Moreover, while civility is an ideal—and a good one—free speech is a right. The right to free speech does not dissipate because it is exercised in un-ideal (un-civil) ways.

Second, we underline that the right to freely speak on public and institutional issues is one of the three pillars of academic freedom. Academic freedom is a specific—though not exclusive—right of professors. The three pillars of academic freedom that extend to individual members of the professorate are: (1) the freedom to conduct and disseminate scholarly research; (2) the freedom to design courses and teach students in the areas of their expertise; and (3) the right to free speech as laid out in the 1940 Statement of Principles of Tenure and Academic Freedom which in this context prohibits the professional penalization of professors for extramural speech. Ensuing from academic freedom is the right and duty of faculty to decide, collaboratively and individually, standards and thresholds for teaching and research, without interference from administrators, alumni, or donors. Those determinations are based on standards of scholarly excellence and achievement, which manifest through hiring, academic publishing, and peer review processes in which an individual’s academic record is judged by peers. Those who administer institutions of higher learning bear a responsibility for the protection of academic freedom, which includes free speech in the ways described here.

The University of California bears an especial burden to respect these rights. For the rights of academic freedom and the 1st Amendment right to free speech cohere in a way peculiar to a public university. As a public university the University of California is called upon to affirm not only the guild rights of Academic Freedom but the more expansive rights of the 1st Amendment—which after all, are possessed by students and staff as well as faculty.

On the basis of all of the above, CUCFA Board deems necessary to release the following declaration and to ask its members, and all UC faculty to press their Senates to pass it as a resolution:

Taking note of the concurrent rapid growth in non-academic administrative positions in most colleges and universities and the significant reductions in state/government funding for public universities during the last decade,

Concerned by numerous accounts across the United States of senior administrators, management, boards of trustees, regents and other non-academic bodies attempting to influence, supervise and in some cases over-rule academic hiring, tenure and promotion decisions, as well as policy and evaluatory decisions traditionally under the purview of Academic Senate and other faculty bodies,

Concerned further by the attempts of senior administrators in the UC system and at many universities across the United States to narrow the boundaries of academic freedom and permissible speech by faculty, students and other members of the university community, and, in particular by the inappropriate and misleading appeal to concepts like “civility” and “collegiality,” deceptively used to limit the “right” to free speech, and as criteria for hiring, tenure, promotion and even disciplinary procedures,

We reaffirm,

That all professional evaluations related to hiring, tenure, and promotions of either present or potential faculty are the sole purview of designated committees composed of faculty members, department chairs, and deans as peers and/or academic supervisors of anyone under review and/or evaluation,

That senior campus and University/system-wide administrators, as well as Regents and other governing boards, or donors to the university and/or its foundation(s), do not have any right to interfere in these processes, and that final decisions on appointment and promotion must be based solely on information in the candidate’s file that is related to established categories of teaching, research, and service and that has been added by established procedures of peer academic review.

That we oppose any insinuation that civility, per se, be added either formally or informally as a valid category in the academic personnel process, as well as any attempt by external parties, including donors to the university, government officials, or other forces, to interfere in any personnel decisions, especially through the threat of withholding donations or investments should certain academic policies or personnel decisions be made.

————————————

(CUCFA — The Council of University of California Faculty Associations — is a coordinating and service agency for the several individual Faculty Associations — associations of UC Senate faculty — on the separate campuses of the University of California, and it represents them to all state- or university-wide agencies on issues of common concern. It gathers and disseminates information on issues before the legislative and executive branches of California’s government, other relevant state units dealing with higher education, the University administration, and the Board of Regents.)

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CUCFA Concerns re: Rescission of 1989 Guidelines on University-Industry Relations

On July 6, 2014, the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) sent the following letter to UC President Janet Napolitano in response to the June 26, 2014 announcement that she has rescinded a policy that barred the university from investing directly in companies that commercialize technology that has emerged through UC research:

Dear President Napolitano,

The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) is concerned by both the substance and the process associated with your recent announcement that you have rescinded the 1989 Guidelines on University-Industry Relations.

The policy you rescinded contained restrictions on direct UC investment in companies commercializing technology based on UC research. These provisions in Sec. 13 of the 1989 Guidelines are thoughtful and prudent. Sec. 13 includes the following statement: “If the University were to be an equity participant in the work of one or more faculty members, it could be seen as favoring those faculty members, and could be in conflict with the University’s role to support scholarship and allocate institutional resources in an even-handed manner.” In our view, this rationale for the restriction in the guideline remains valid. We support the full statement of the Sec. 13 justification and the guideline itself, which are quoted at the end of this letter. They should not be rescinded without a compelling justification.

In your announcement, you did not mention consultation with the Academic Senate, and we have not been able to find evidence that such consultation took place. Since your stated policy change affects faculty research, faculty involvement in relations with industry, and the investment of University funds, it clearly falls within the established scope of topics appropriate for consultation with the Senate.

Thus we request that you provide CUCFA and the larger University community with an account of your reasons for rescinding the Guidelines and with a description of the process that led to your decision. We also strongly encourage you to engage with the Senate in consultation on the desirability of reinstating the 1989 Guidelines or on the structure of a replacement policy that will also contain appropriate safeguards such as those in Sec. 13 of the 1989 Guidelines.

We will welcome an opportunity for further discussion of these issues with you.

Sincerely,
Joe Kiskis
Vice President for External Relations
on behalf of the Board of the Council of UC Faculty Associations

enclosure: Excerpt from Sec. 13 of the 1989 Guidelines on University-Industry Relations

cc: Academic Senate Chair William Jacob, Provost Dorr, CIO Bachher, Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance and Audit Officer Sheryl Vacca, and Vice President Steven Beckwith.


From Sec. 13 of the 1989 Guidelines on University-Industry Relations:

“Primarily because of its need to be even handed in its support of faculty members and in its openness to competing commercial enterprises, the University has not arranged for investment in firms whose products derive from University research, when the principal purpose is to promote faculty inventions. If the University were to be an equity participant in the work of one or more faculty members, it could be seen as favoring those faculty members, and could be in conflict with the University’s role to support scholarship and allocate institutional resources in an even-handed manner. Moreover, this kind of relationship with certain companies could preclude or inhibit research sponsorship by other competing companies.

“Guideline: In general, it is not appropriate for the University to invest directly in enterprises when such investment is tied to the commercial development of new ideas created or advanced through University research.”

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UC Faculty Call on UC Administration To Negotiate in Good Faith with Student-Worker TA Union

Update:

Thank you everyone who took a moment to sign this letter. UC and the student-worker TA union have now reached an agreement. Details of the agreement by UC and the student’s union are available on the UAW Student Worker Local 2865 site at: http://www.uaw2865.org/ and the LA Times also has some press coverage. We are no longer collecting signatures.

 

Dear Colleagues,

For many of us, our teaching assistants are central to our pedagogy. They work the most closely with our students, and are most closely involved with our students’ individual progress. Our universities depend on them in many ways. As you all know, despite a series of system-wide labor actions and nearly a year of negotiating, our teaching assistants remain without a contract.

The SCFA is sponsoring a petition, to be delivered to President Napolitano, to demonstrate system-wide faculty support for a speedy resolution to teaching assistant contract negotiations. We believe that a strong showing by faculty system-wide can help make the case to the central administration that better working conditions for teaching assistants is not simply a matter between teaching assistants and the administration, but is a pressing concern for all UC faculty.

We invite ALL faculty-both Academic Senate members and AFT members-at ALL campuses to sign the petition, forward the link widely, and encourage your colleagues to sign as well.

For more information on TA labor activities and demands, please consult the TA union website at http://www.uaw2865.org

To sign the petition (the text of which is also reproduced below), please go to the petition page at http://ucscfa.org/petition2/

In solidarity,
The SCFA

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Campaign for the Future of Higher Education’s “Teaching Millions or Making Millions”

New video released by Campaign for the Future of Higher Education Questions False Promises of Online Education Industry.    “Online Ed: Teaching Millions or Making Millions?” at Online Ed: Teaching Millions or Making Millions?

 

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