Tulsa Community College Faculty Sue over Pension

Article excerpt

More than two-dozen senior faculty members have sued Tulsa Community College, claiming the school's supplemental retirement program discriminates against them and unduly enriches TCC's administration.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court, alleges TCC uses only nine months of compensation earned by the teachers - even though they work during the summer - to calculate their supplemental retirement benefits.

But the college does choose to use the teachers' entire income during the year to decide the base contract salary that is applicable to the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System.

Lawyers said the college has been arbitrary and capricious in the way it calculates retirement compensation for the teachers, and the practice may violate the state's constitution banning discrimination in teacher pension plans.

The net effect of this is most of these teachers, who have over 20 years or more, will receive absolutely nothing upon retirement, from the supplemental plan, said Tulsa attorney Joseph Clark, who is representing the teachers. And that's the purpose of our lawsuit.

TCC's supplemental retirement plan was created in 1983 after the OTRS capped the amount of compensation that could be considered for retirement. Many teachers found they'd be making sharply less in retirement than they would when they were working.

Eventually, the OTRS cap was lifted.

The TCC plan was amended in 1993 and 1999, and the only employee classification is employees, with no distinction between teachers and administrators, the lawsuit said.

Clark said administrators at the college have walked away with large lump sumps under the supplemental retirement plan, but teachers with decades of service won't get anything.

Lauren Brookey, TCC's vice president of external affairs, said the controversy cited by teachers isn't new, and there have been recent negotiations between faculty and the college's president about the issue. …