This story came out a couple of days ago, and so we really should have jumped on this sooner, but we’ve managed to catch the full picture and updates since the story broke and going into the new year.
A couple of day ago, SF Chronicle broke with this story about a significant number of UC executives who had written a letter to the Regents and President Yudof, threatening to sue the Regents because the new retirement plan passed by the Regents reduced their benefits. The Group of 36 executives are mostly executives in the medical centers of the UC, along with investment and treasurer executives. However, they are also joined by a number of professors, the most prominent of such is Dean Christopher Edley, of Berkeley Law.
I don’t believe that the letter was meant to be distributed widely to the public, and was really directly addressed to the Regents and the President, which is why this has become bigger news. The UC executives argue that they were promised retirement benefits proportional to their salary – which goes beyond a cap instituted by the IRS limiting retirement benefits. The UC, back in the 90s, did get an exemption from that cap for these executives, but the new retirement plan apparently does not continue that exemption.
The cost of the executives request is 51.5million dollars upfront to make the changes retroactive, and 5.5million dollars a year going forward. This money may involve student fee dollars, as many retirement funds will.
SF Chronicle then reported that for now, Yudof is against the increases, although UCOP has not released yet an official statement or response to the letter. There was talk about giving the Regents “more time to review”, the Regents will ultimately have the final decision in this, although Yudof and UCOP will inevitably play a large factor. Gov-Elect Brown, Speaker Perez, and State Senator Leland Yee have all spoken out against the letter.
Dean Edley has defended his position and support on the letter, SF Chronicle has mentioned him as one of the leaders of the Group of 36. Regent Blum has mentioned compromise, and Regent Kieffer mentioned that the issue would not be heard by the Regents until at least March. Faculty Representative to the Regents, and Academic Senate Chair Dan Simmons was relatively aggressive in his opposition to the letter, saying that the Group of 36 fails to recognize the public university in dire straits.