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College District, Union Near Pact on Early Retirement Offer

October 18, 1994|JOHN CHANDLER

The Los Angeles Community College District is nearing agreement with union officials on an early retirement package that could spur the departure of up to 20% of its full-time faculty, according to Chancellor Neil Yoneji.

If enough older full-time teachers opt for the incentive, officials said, the result would be an opportunity to reinvigorate the district's academic programs and diversify its faculty through the mass replacement hiring that would occur. Currently, about 70% of the full-time faculty is white, even though the district's college-age population is about 70% minority.

The district also hopes to save money. The theory is that the cost of providing the bonus to retiring faculty members would be more than offset by the salary savings from hiring new teachers at lower pay.

"It's an opportunity for us to do a restructuring and yet also give employees who have spent a long time in this district a better opportunity to retire," said Yoneji, who oversees the district's nine campuses and nearly 104,000 students.

Under the proposal being discussed with the American Federation of Teachers College Guild, the incentive would be offered to about 700 of the district's more than 1,500 full-time teachers--all those age 55 or older. Faculty union President Leon Marzillier estimated that 200 to 300 of those might accept the offer.

The district has an unusually large share of older faculty because of the boom in hiring that occurred in the 1960s and early 1970s. Two-thirds of the district's full-time faculty is 50 or older, according to statistics provided by Marzillier.

Originally, officials had hoped to offer the retirement package immediately, with the retirements taking effect at the end of the fall semester. But the move has been delayed so that any retirements would occur at the end of the school year.

Under the proposal, faculty members would get 7% of their final basic salary in an annual lifetime annuity in addition to their regular pension benefit. For the program to proceed, at least 125 faculty members must participate.

A top-scale teacher in the district without a doctorate currently earns a salary of about $50,550, union officials said. Normally, such a person retiring with 30 years of experience would get a 60% pension, or about $30,330 a year. The incentive would add more than $3,500 a year to that amount.

District officials reportedly are considering offering a similar package to senior administrators and staff members.

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