Professionals News Update: December, 2005


Our Benefits in the Crosshairs
Working at the University has its benefits, but they come at a disturbingly increasing cost.  

Healthcare benefits for current employees and retirees
Recent projections from UCOP Human Resources estimate that UC's contributions to our health care premiums will decline from 97% (in 2001) to 68% (in 2010). UC currently funds 89% of healthcare premium costs.  

The picture for retirees' medical benefits may be even bleaker. Increasing healthcare costs, a rising number of UC retirees, and increased life expectancy after retirement point to a precarious situation for our retirement. Retirement healthcare and other benefits are not guaranteed and the University has the authority to change (or eliminate entirely) the benefits and costs of programs available to retirees.  

Retirement benefits
The University is considering a number of options, but the following appear likely:

  • Employees will soon be required to once again make monthly contributions to our defined benefit plan (DBP). Contributions have not been required since 1990.
  • The University will attempt to offer new employees a Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) instead of a DBP. (See box for comparison.) This may happen as soon as July 1, 2007.
  • The University is exploring a combined DBP/DCP plan for current employees.

If/When the University begins to enroll employees in the DCP and/or into a combined DBP/DCP, the investment power of our DBP will decrease.

Pension Plan Comparison  

    Type of Plan

    Design or Promise


    Defined Benefit

    Income replacement


    Defined Contribution

    Capital accumulation

    Account balance

    A Defined Benefit Plan replaces income based on a formula (age at retirement, years of service, highest annual compensation). The benefits and risks associated with investment are assumed by the employer.

    A Defined Contribution Plan is based on a strategy in which the employer and employee contribute to the capital, which is then invested. At retirement, the employee has a total amount of money. That amount of money can vary wildly depending on the market.

What is UPTE doing?
UPTE is working in coalition with the other unions at UC to fight erosions in our benefits. We are in the process of forming a systemwide committee within UPTE to monitor developments and formulate policies and strategies to maintain our hard-earned benefits. If you're interested in joining UPTE's campaign, please contact your campus local through UPTE's website at

Book Recommendation
As the holidays approach, one book you might put on your shopping list is Getting Even: Why Women Don't Get Paid Like Men--And What to Do about It by Evelyn Murphy. Getting Even exposes the discrepancy between what women and men make and how it affects us all. It reveals that the wage gap is not going away on its own. And it explains how to close the wage gap and, finally, get women even. Murphy gives readers the tools and the inspiration they'll need to tackle individual discrimination issues without necessarily going to court, but her goal is obviously larger than that. As the president of the WAGE Project, she aims to rile the public at large into action so that the wage gap can be closed, for good, in the next ten years.

The book is filled with real-life workplace cases where workers (and, in some cases, employers) worked together to implement large-scale changes to address inequities.

Membership Has Its Privileges
Our union is only as strong as the members who run it. And the more people who choose to join UPTE, the stronger we are in the eyes of the University. To fill out an UPTE membership application, go to

Member benefits include the right to vote in UPTE to help determine the direction of the union as well as access to the AFL-CIO's union benefits (discounts, insurance plans, credit cards, etc.) Joining UPTE also puts you in touch with others who are interested in their working lives and are willing to step up to the plate to do something about it.