The University of California has been just barely scraping by in this economic depression, consistently raising tuition for students and slashing course offerings like weeds.

Everyone employed by the university took a 10 percent pay cut across the board last year; still, there are over 200 faculty members and top executives who earn over a quarter million per year — and 36 of them are ready to take the UC regents to court if their pension doesn't start looking just as fat-cat as their paycheck. Currently, the salary cap used to calculate their pensions is about $250,000.

And they're not exactly using the magic word:

The San Francisco Chronicle, No. 1 watchdog of the corporatizing university and its head moneysuckers, has the papers to prove it:

“We believe it is the University's legal, moral and ethical obligation” to increase the benefits, the executives wrote the Board of Regents in a Dec. 9 letter and position paper obtained by The Chronicle.

“Failure to do so will likely result in a costly and unsuccessful legal confrontation,” they wrote, using capital letters to emphasize that they were writing “URGENTLY.”

Apparently, the UC Regents — who have been raising these same execs' salaries behind closed doors, and who don't exactly earn chump change themselves — promised the university's upper crust in 2009 that the $250,000 salary cap for pensions would be lifted once the IRS gave the OK. The IRS did so in 2007, and UC execs have been tapping their watches since then.

But enough is enough, says the new legal threat, which they wagged so hard the Chronicle got a hold of it. Not a good move. Haven't they seen those Irvine crazies?

Under the current pension cap, execs are out there strugglin':

Under UC's formula, which calculates retirement benefits on only the first $245,000 of pay, an employee earning $400,000 a year who retires after 30 years would get a $183,750 annual pension.

Lift the cap, and the pension rises to $300,000.

Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports, their request would add $5.5 million per year to the university system's existing $2.1 billion pension liability, plus the $51 million they're requesting in back-logged liability since 2007.

Our very own UCLA has the most exec signatures on the huffy legal threat out of all 10 campuses. They include:

Roger Farmer, chair, Department of Economics

Dr. David Feinberg, CEO of the hospital system; associate vice chancellor

Franklin Gilliam Jr., dean, school of Public Affairs

Dr. Gerald Levey, dean emeritus

Virginia McFerran, chief information officer of the health system

Judy Olian, dean and John E. Anderson chair, Anderson School of Management

Amir Dan Rubin, chief operating officer of the hospital system

Dr. J. Thomas Rosenthal, chief medical officer of the hospital system; associate vice chancellor

Paul Staton, chief financial officer of the hospital system

UC President Mark Yudof is surely enjoying the brief respite in negative attention — he's scolding the selfish retirement request to anyone who'll listen. It's almost as if he doesn't rake in $800,000 per year himself. That's, like, Bobby Rizzo status.

All the UC student newsies and activists are probably out getting pre-NYE shwasted right now, but you can bet the moment they get back, there'll be an army of broke college kids to deal with. Come on, guys: Make these greedy goobs regret the day they were hired.

LA Weekly