Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Adjunct Faculty - Write your U.S. Reps today in support of HR 1205 (worth thousands to you in retirement)

This month, our AAUP chapters of the CCCS urge you to write to your U.S. representatives in support of federal legislation HR 1205, to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Together, these federal provisions are devastating to CCCS adjunct faculty, especially, and need to be struck down. 
Were you aware of how two Reagan-era provisions (Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision) (GPO/WEP) unfairly impoverish CCCS adjunct faculty for the rest of their lives? The two programs do not hurt CCCS career employees such as full-time faculty, administrators, and staff. The six initials have life-altering and devastating effects on workers who paid into Social Security for years, then became part-time college teachers who paid into Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) instead of SS for several years. The latter typifies CCCS adjunct faculty. Adjunct faculty are 80% of CCCS faculty and are nearly HALF ofthe entire CCCS workforce (4,613 of the 12,590 CCCS employees in 2017).
How do the two programs work to hurt adjunct faculty? Briefly, when PERA worker/members retire, Social Security (SS) will deduct from their SS benefit 2/3 of whatever they may receive from PERA. Lifetime-career PERA-only workers are thus not affected. However, those adjunct faculty who worked in professions previously and now bring that professional expertise to CCCS classrooms will be penalized mightily in retirement, financially.
For example: Perhaps from previous work in the private sector, you are slated to receive $1,100/month from SS, and then, from dozens of years working "part-time" as an adjunct faculty in the CCCS, you are slated to receive $1,000/month from PERA. What you don't realize is how the GPO/WEP programs require SS to deduct 2/3 of the PERA amount from your SS payments. In this example, you might have believed you would be receiving a total of $2,100 month in retirement from the combined SS and PERA ($1,100 + $1,000). However, SS will deduct $666 from that $1,100. Instead, you will be receiving only $1,434/month. At $1,434/month, that puts you at an annual retirement income of $17,208. In other words, your income throughout retirement will be $6,933 below the living wage for the Denver metro area($24,141 in 2017).
In this way, as if poverty level wages working as an adjunct were not devastating enough, as a final and enduring insult, you learn that years of top-notch work in the CCCS will make you $666 poorer the rest of your life.
Wouldn't it be helpful if, when new adjunct faculty take a position in the CCCS, we could let them know about how these two programs will deduct funds from their SS payments when they retire because of how PERA interacts with the GPO/WEP?
            While CCCS presidents boast about a faculty of working professionals and about "appreciating adjunct faculty," they do nothing to look out for that same faculty by pushing to change the PERA/GPO/WEP issue. A vibrant and employee-focused CCCS HR division would be doing so. Are they? If lobbyists under contract to the CCCS were similarly focused, they, too, might be working to change this situation. Are they? Who is? Only the AAUP chapters are doing so. Our AAUP chapters of the CCCS learned of these provisions through our own research as part of our Adjunct Survival Workshop Series.
            Most adjunct faculty believe they'll snag all their SS retirement when they retire AND their PERA. They are unaware of how the GPO/WEP will HURT them in retirement. Your single letter to a U.S. lawmaker might help, but just think of what a difference it makes when a juggernaut organization like the AAUP gets behind a push for needed change. Our AAUP chapters have been writing to U.S. lawmakers and colleagues for some time now about the GPO/WEP. Please join us, and add your voice to our chorus.