Higher Education Employees Question "Pension Reform" Proposal


"Honestly, these proposals feel more philosophical than based in reality.  The economy just went through the worst economic downturn since the Depression;  of course earnings were down.  The fact that our plan is still over 90% funded despite the economic crisis reinforces its current form.  Lillard's basis for making the change seems to actually be a basis for keeping it.  It weathered the storm.  If folks had had their retirement in his proposed plan they would have lost significantly," said UCW President and UTK Facilities Services employee Tom Anderson.

"TCRS is not in crisis," says Anderson.  "We need sound government policies to rebuild after the economic shock we have been going through, not an ideological attack on public employees that funnels our salaries into retirement accounts administered by the same Wall Street bankers who have behaved like gamblers on a binge in Las Vegas."

Tennessee has largely avoided a funding crisis for TCRS through sound economic planning, choosing conservative investments, and making regular pension contributions.  Many other states spent that late 1990s and early 2000s making speculative investments and skipping pension payments.  As a result the gap between current reserves and future liabilities for those plans grew, ultimately reaching crisis proportions with the economic crisis in 2008.  In response many employers, both public and private have introduced so-called "hybrid plans."  But studies are finding that these  two-tier retirement plans, where new employees are diverted into a contribution-based plan and vested employees remain in the traditional pension, are actually increasing the funding gap for the pension, ultimately leading some plans to renege on retirement promises altogether.

"The facts are plain;  any legislation that removes new employees from the current pension will over time destroy our very solvent retirement system and constitute a massive pay cut for hardworking employees earning modest salaries," explains UCW Vice President and MTSU library employee Rick Kurtz.  Kurtz will submit his credentials for the upcoming Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustee election later today.  "My grandmother who was an English teacher instilled in me the importance of education, hard work and the responsibility of service to others.  Our higher education employees, state workers and teachers deserve to have the careers we give to the people of Tennessee honored.  If the person who comes after me also gives a lifetime of dedication to our state, she or he is as deserving of the respect of a secure retirement as I am."

For more information, please contact:

Tom Anderson, UCW President and UT Knoxville Facilities service employee
865-934-7373, [email protected]

Rick Kurtz, UCW Vice President and MTSU library employee