Retirement incentives deeded costly, to not be offered

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

President David Glassman recently announced in an email his decision to not offer a retirement incentive this year.

The retirement incentive was going to be an extra benefit for employees who were eligible for retirement.

Glassman said in a later email that a retirement incentive was being explored as an option to cut university costs for the 2015 fiscal year.

“After review of all factors I decided that a retirement incentive would not be in the best interest of the university this year,” Glassman said. “It was determined that offering a retirement incentive could create a risk that the incentive could actually cost the university more than the cost savings gained by the incentive.”

Jon Blitz, the president of the University Professionals of Illinois, said when UPI and the administration signed the Memorandum of Agreement over the summer delaying the annually contracted faculty layoffs, the administration wanted to talk about retirement incentives.

“It was their idea to do that,” Blitz said. “And so of course we agreed, because it only means good for us, for the UPI members, so we had no problem with that.”

Blitz said UPI members were optimistic that they would get something because the incentives were the administration’s idea.

“I didn’t know what, but at least something,” Blitz said. “But we didn’t. Nothing happened.”

Blitz’s optimism led him to promise his members they would get something because they asked for it.

“Then they pulled the plug,” Blitz said. “It kind of leaves me hanging out to dry.”

He said he and his vice president, Grant Sterling, heard questions about the incentives from other members.

During meetings about the incentives, they found there were some hurdles that needed to be overcome to make them happen.

“We solved those, and then we didn’t hear anything for a while, and then I saw that email,” Blitz said.

One of the problems was that the administration wanted to make money off the incentives this academic year.

“That’s not an easy thing; if you have an incentive that means you’re handing out money,” Blitz said. “So we came up with a scheme where we thought the university would probably accrue not a lot this fiscal year, but probably wouldn’t lose much.”

He said the university would have probably accrued 10s of thousands of dollars.

“Then, all of a sudden there was another hurdle which we could not overcome,” Blitz said.

Blitz said the UPI members agreed to certain terms for their own incentives, but administrators then wanted to extend those incentives to others.

“We knew that if that was the case, then the math just wasn’t going to work,” Blitz said. “There was no way it could work. There’s no way they could have made money, which is what they wanted to do in the first place.”

Blitz said the plan was to offer an across-the-board increase for those who were going to retire this fiscal year.

He said he thought other people not in UPI should get incentives as well, but not the exact same ones.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]