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Letter from Karen Sawislak on Post Employment Benefits


To UC-AFT-represented librarians and non-Senate faculty:

As you may know, the UC Post Employment Benefits Task Force is circulating a survey that is apparently designed to collect information about UC employee preferences and workforce retirement patterns.  There are two versions: a short-form that is made available to everyone and a long version that has been sent to randomly selected employees.

UC-AFT has NOT authorized participation in the survey by the librarians and non-Senate faculty that we represent.  I write today to explain that decision.

First, we have declined participation by our membership because UC-AFT is not in agreement with the fundamental premise of the Task Force, which is charged with finding ways to reduce post-retirement benefits. We contest UC's ongoing stance that it now faces permanent budget crisis that only can be alleviated through cuts to an employee's total compensation.  

Second, UCOP has continually refused to allow union participation in its planning processes and in the administration of critical employee resources for retirement.  As you may know, there is no employee representation on the governing board of the UC pension fund (UCRP), and this denial of a rank-and-file employee voice is unique among public pension funds in California. 

Similarly, the Post Employment Benefits Task Force has no UC union representation among its membership.  To the contrary, it was convened by President Mark Yudof and its Steering Committee is composed exclusively of high-level administrators from UCOP and the campuses.  Our union, and all other UC unions, were not consulted about any of the work that this Task Force has undertaken, including the design of the survey that UC now wants our bargaining unit members to complete.  Likewise, we will have no input into how any collected information ultimately is interpreted or utilized by the Task Force. 

From the briefings that we have attended, we believe it is clear that UCOP is intent on slashing the value of retiree health benefits and reducing pension benefits for new employees.  We therefore are quite concerned that this effort to gather information is simply an attempt to "appear" to gather employee feedback, when there is already a predetermined outcome.  We fully expect that this Task Force is the vehicle that President Yudof will use to set these cuts into motion.  

For all of these reasons, and in coalition with other UC unions, UC-AFT has declined to authorize the participation of our bargaining units in this UC survey.   

Our stance, and that of our sister unions, has been clearly communicated to UCOP: that our retirees and active employees have worked for many years to accrue their post-employment benefits and that UC must look elsewhere to cut its costs.  This primarily can be achieved by sharing revenues across all sectors of the institution and by reining in wasteful spending on a bloated administration.

We will continue to fight to preserve the value of UC benefits and we will continue to keep you posted on new developments in this area.  Please direct any comments or questions you may have to me at  We are also happy to relay any input you wish to provide in regard to these issues to the relevant authorities at UCOP.


Karen Sawislak

Executive Director, UC-AFT