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For the Week of January 03, 2011
Happy new year, readers!
We have only one news item for our first issue of 2011: UC’s highest-paid executives are demanding that their pensions be dramatically increased.
Yes, you heard right. While you were taking a much needed end-of-year break, the San Francisco Chronicle broke the story on December 29 that three dozen of UC’s highest paid executives are threatening to sue unless UC raises their retirement pay. They want UC to disregard the federal limit of $245,000 on pension calculations.
“Under UC's formula,” reports the Chronicle, “which calculates retirement benefits on only the first $245,000 of pay, an employee earning $400,000 a year who retires after 30 years would get a $183,750 annual pension. Lift the cap, and the pension rises to $300,000.”
The signers demanding the increase include some of the same executives who advocated slashing pension benefits for the lowest-paid UC workers by instituting a two-tier higher cost plan, a proposal approved by the regents last year for unrepresented employees. Any changes to benefits for union represented employees will have to be negotiated.
Those who have paid attention to the reactions to their demand must know how badly they shot themselves in the foot. The next day, Governor-elect Jerry Brown condemned the execs as “out of touch.” Letter writers to the Chronicle on New Year's Day called the executives’ demands "ludicrous," "outrageous," "indefensibly selfish," and a "betrayal," among other things. One writer said, "I no longer wish for my own children to attend UC, especially if this level of greed remains among their supposed leaders."
One of the letter-signing executives, UCB Law School dean Christopher Edley, defended himself and others (whom he jokingly referred to as “craven scum”) by saying the higher pension was “financially important to my family.”
Even the San Francisco Chronicle’s resident conservative columnist recognized the kernel of class privilege in the execs’ demands.
In an editorial titled, “UC executives offer further evidence they live in a bubble,” the Sacramento Bee said it was dumbfounded, galled, and appalled by the executives' demand.
The (Vacaville) Reporter advised UC regents to "approve the higher package and then retire all of those executives who take it. There are plenty of hard-working people looking for work right now who would jump at the chance to have a pension based on $245,000 a year. "