A plan to remove the ability of the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri System Giving retirees cost-of-living adjustments in the future was a hot topic Wednesday at the spring general faculty meeting.
The meeting took place at the Stotler Lounge at the Memorial Union.
the Association of UM retirees wrote a letter April 2 to Board Chairman Darryl Chatman and other board members complaining about the plan.
At issue is a planned change to the collected rules and regulations that retirees describe as the unnecessary removal of a discretionary tool. The change would prevent the Board of Trustees from approving future cost-of-living adjustments that current regulations allow.
The association recommends that the board vote against a paragraph which reads as follows: “Given the magnitude of the obligations of the plan and the additional risks inherent in the management of a closed plan, the benefits of the plan should in no case cases be increased beyond the levels in effect at the time of the adoption of this policy.
The letter also has the approval of MU’s Faculty Council.
“Why are we removing a tool that hasn’t been used since 2007? said faculty member Rabia Gregory, citing the year of the most recent cost-of-living increase.
“Why make such a big change to put it in the Collected Rules and Regulations” instead of having it done by management? asked Gregory.
Calling it an “unearned advantage, Ryan Rapp, UM Chief Financial Officer said the administration wanted to be clear about the change.
“We think it’s important to approach it from a position of transparency,” Rapp said.
The move is necessary to protect the operating budget, he said.
“We want to be very clear, they shouldn’t count on it, because it was never a guarantee,” Rapp said.
This seems to disempower future curators, said faculty member Leslie Lyons.
“I’m really still unsettled about the (cost of living adjustment) discussion,” Lyons said. “Why is this happening now? »
Although MU has one of the best-funded pension schemes, raising its cost won’t work, Rapp said.
The change has been discussed for several years, he said.
“We haven’t been able to offer one in 15 years,” Rapp said of the plan increases. “We don’t think we’ll be able to offer one in the future. It’s not an in-system cost.”
The uncertainty for retirees now is inflation, said faculty member Paul Anderson.
Rapp said he understands the perspectives of retirees and the Faculty Council.
“We’re just going to agree to disagree,” Rapp said.
An increase in the cost of living is not an option in the future, said Mun Choi, chancellor of UM and chairman of the UM system.
“We’re going to be very transparent,” Choi said. “We will discuss this at a public board meeting.”
Retired MU faculty Art Jago said in a separate interview that an almost 20% increase in the cost of living was approved in 1994 to catch up with retirees. More modest increases of around 2% were approved in subsequent years, with the 2007 increase of 2% being the most recent.
“Inflation is higher now than it has been since 1982,” Jago said, although he said pensioners are not looking for a raise now.
The decision will affect all employees enrolled in MU’s pension plan before 2020, Jago said.
The Board of Directors meets next Thursday at Missouri University of Science and Technology at Rolla.
Another topic on Wednesday was Choi’s decree for reduce the salaries of some tenured professors.
“I believe in it,” Choi said. “I believe accountability is very important.”
The pay cuts are temporary, but Choi said he didn’t handle it well.
“The rollout could have been smoother, but I’m sticking with it,” he said.
Gregory, faculty member David Singh and others told Choi they appreciated his willingness to engage with them.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this dialogue,” Singh said, before asking if the pay cuts could be seen as an attack on tenure.
Roger McKinney is the Tribune’s educational reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-815-1719. He’s on Twitter at @rmckinney9.