The Campus Faculty Association Responds to President Easter’s Message on Pension Changes.
President Easter’s recent message concerning his support for the “Six-Step Plan” to fix the pension crisis highlights the problem of the University’s central administration making decisions for faculty regarding our welfare and benefits. President Easter is correct that there is not universal support for this plan across the campuses. In fact, little if any support from current faculty or other employees is indicated. This is in part because faculty have not been consulted on the cuts in both income and benefits that this plan will entail.
We are not sure what President Easter means when he says the plan was “sympathetically reviewed” by the University Senates Conference (USC), the shared governance body over the three campus senates. That group endorsed very general principles regarding pension reform early last spring, but according to USC leadership, they never recommended in favor of the Six-Step Plan. Our own UIUC senate was not consulted regarding the plan President Easter has been supporting on campus and in Springfield.
For those of you who have been out of earshot lately, here is what the plan does:
1. Permanently reduces faculty salaries by two per cent as a result of increasing the employee contributions.
2. Cuts COLA adjustments from 3% per year to one-half the rate of inflation, a drastic cut in retirement income projected well into an uncertain future.
3. Shifts funding responsibility for the plan from the state to the university, which amounts to a further cut in the state appropriation for higher education.
While some adjustments may be necessary for the pension system to survive, we would argue that the proposed changes are grossly unfair to university employees, and we think the state has other, sounder options. Drastic reductions in salary and benefits are once again being proposed by university leaders without the consent of the faculty. This is one more indication that collective bargaining shows the way forward for faculty.
With union representation, faculty would be guaranteed consultation with the university administration in Urbana on important workplace issues. We would have a stronger voice in Springfield. Join us and work with us for the good of the faculty and the university! You can visit our website cfaillinois.org for updates on pension news. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get involved.
Harriet Murav, President
Campus Faculty Association