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By Prince Matthews, APSCUF Intern

Yesterday, Representative Mike Tobash (R-125th District) held a press conference urging support for a hybrid pension reform plan which will impact the retirement security of current and future APSCUF members. Supported by Governor Tom Corbett, the plan will be introduced as an amendment to House Bill 1353 and will, among other things, force all future employees and current members who return from a “break in service” into an inferior pension plan with reduced benefits.

Under the hybrid proposal, the first $50,000 of an employee’s salary or first 25 years of service would be covered by a traditional defined benefit plan, although at a much lower employer contribution rate and a significantly smaller benefit.  A 401-K style defined contribution plan is provided for all income over $50,000 or 25 years of service.  According to a Keystone Research Center report, the new plan would reduce benefits for employees between 20 to over 40 percent. Employees who make over $50,000 will see the largest cuts in benefits (the average APSCUF faculty member makes over $50,000). The plan is also expected to generate very minimal savings for the state. 

Current APSCUF members should be greatly concerned with the Corbett-Tobash plan’s provision forcing members returning to work after a break into the new hybrid retirement plan.

Types of potential “breaks in service” for faculty and coaches that could trigger being forced into the new plan may include:

  • Educational leave without pay.
  • Temporary faculty renewing a contract and being rehired every year.
  • Transfer to another university or preferential rehire after retrenchment.
  • Maternity leave.

It has been noted that the “breaks in service” provision would disproportionately impact women due to maternity leave.  Over 3,300 APSCUF members are female. The Corbett-Tobash plan will require our faculty and coaches to choose between starting or expanding their families and risking their existing pension benefits.

APSCUF’s legal team is currently reviewing the entirety of the lengthy Corbett-Tobash plan, including the legal definition of “break in service”. In the meantime, we urge members to contact their legislator and ask them to oppose the Corbett-Tobash plan.