Faculty Advocacy Helps Save Five-Year Early Retirement Program
Months of CFA advocacy secured a popular and beneficial early faculty retirement program.
Staff and board members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) proposed changes this year to the CSU’s Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP), which would have trimmed consecutive months for retirees serving after retirement to 24 consecutive months from the 60 consecutive months in CFA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
This effort came just after CSU management spent more than a year trying to trim FERP down to three years during bargaining in 2021.
But faculty have prevailed, keeping bargained agreements in large part due to advocacy from higher education and firefighting employees, as well as union representatives.
According to plans released by CalPERS during its November Pension and Health Benefits Committee meeting, CalPERS revised their proposed regulations to specify that collective bargaining agreements supersede their revised FERP plans. Any bargaining agreements, not to exceed 60 consecutive months or five years, would be the set time for all post-retirement appointments, according to CalPERS language. All non-CBA appointments will be limited to 24 consecutive months.
FERP is valuable for faculty and for the CSU system, as it enables retired faculty with years of experience to continue to teach for a time base of up to 50 percent. Participating faculty may draw their retirement and 50 percent of their annual salary for up to five years. The program provides mentorship and support from senior faculty to junior faculty, allowing senior faculty to continue to serve on committees and to perform other crucial service work. FERP also saves money for the CSU, because faculty are paid at 50 percent of what they made before, and pension and health contribution costs are shifted from the CSU to CalPERS.
“Public workers’ pensions are perpetually under attack in this country, and sometimes in our own state. We at CFA were surprised to find out that FERP was under attack from CalPERS itself,” said CFA Vice President Kevin Wehr. “We worked with CalPERS board members, and with support from other unions, we were able to preserve the five-year longevity for FERP.”
CFA will continue to advocate for our current FERP for our retired members and encourage all members to learn more about their rights to FERP. CFA member leaders also extend a thank you to SEIU and various union members who worked alongside us to advocate to save this program.