The pension fund also said it extended its private debt programme to 4.5% of the total fund with the award of four new mandates, including a first strategic allocation to real estate debt.According to the fund’s report the year under review also saw it finish a review of its direct investment portfolio, agreeing changes such as an increase in its overall capacity and in the target size of individual investments.As at the end of March the commitments in the direct investment portfolio made up 5% of the total fund, with the permissible range of 2.5-7.5%. The target investment size is £20-100m, with a minimum of £10m and a maximum of the greater of £200m or 1% of the total fund value.Infrastructure, renewable energy and credit commitments make up the bulk of the direct investments portfolio.Lothian rejigs allocation categoriesLothian Pension Fund, Scotland’s second largest LGPS with assets of £7.8bn, has changed the way it expresses its strategic asset allocation following a review of its investment strategies.The investment strategy used to be set at the broad asset class level of equities, index-linked gilts and alternatives, but the number of “policy groups” has been expanded from three to five: equities, gilts, non-gilt debt, real assets and cash.The strategic allocation was broadly unchanged, however, it said in its unaudited annual report.Last year the Scottish LGPS Advisory Board launched a consultation on possible structural reform of Scottish local authority pension funds, and Lothian said the prospect of this was “the most significant possible development” affecting it.In contrast to Strathclyde, Lothian came out in favour of structural change. The latter has an authorised internal asset management company that it shares with the schemes for two nearby local authorities.In its unaudited report for 2018-19, Lothian said partner funds were benefiting from its internal resources and it was sharing its costs, but there was not yet any significant impact on any of Lothian’s investments.“The arrangements are expected to evolve and for Lothian to benefit from greater overlap in investments,” it added. “The governance of Lothian’s collaborative arrangements is not straightforward. While other funds rely on advice from Lothian, they need to continue to be resourced appropriately to make decisions for their respective funds.“Further, there are practical constraints to the expansion of this type of collaboration.”Both Strathclyde and Lothian reported for the first time in their annual reports on their approach to climate change using the framework recommended by the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. Investments made by Strathclyde Pension Fund, Scotland’s largest local authority pension fund and the UK’s second biggest, gained 5.9% in the year to the end of March for a “remarkable” 10th consecutive year of growth, according to its unaudited annual report.Returns were largely driven by the equity markets, the £21.9bn (€24.4bn) local government pension scheme (LGPS) noted. It gave its estimated funding level as 109%.Over the past few years the pension fund has been reducing its equity allocation in favour of a more diversified portfolio, and it reported agreeing at least £1bn of new investments during the 2018-19 financial year.These included £200m in an absolute return fund, £500m in global infrastructure, and seven investments with a total value of £205m by Strathclyde’s direct investment portfolio, its vehicle for alternative and local investments.
USC non-tenure track faculty filed a petition Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking to join the Service Employees International Union Local 721. Faculty at the Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences, the Roski School of Art and Design and USC International Academy all filed separate petitions.The move is the first major step toward a unionization process that faculty began exploring in earnest last spring. Those involved with the effort said they hope a union will help address issues of job security, transparency and compensation of non-tenure track faculty.According to a survey and examination of offer letters conducted by the SEIU, the average salary for non-tenure track faculty at USC is $5,044 per course. Additionally, many faculty say their contracts are semester-to-semester or year-to-year and they are unsure if they will be renewed until a few days prior to the end of their contract.Kate Levin, a part-time professor in the writing program who has taught at USC since 2011, said faculty at USC are joining a nationwide movement to address growing problems within higher education.“This is part of a larger groundswell on college and university campuses throughout the country that’s challenging the current model of doing things,” Levin said. “I see students and faculty joining together to say ‘you know what, I think this current model of running a university like a business is not really working well for the people who are at the heart of what a university does.’”In California, Whittier College and Otis College of Art and Design have formed unions, as have larger research universities nationwide including Tufs and George Washington University.In order for SEIU to become the bargaining agent for contract negotiations at USC, the National Labor Relations Board requires a petition filed showing support from at least 30 percent of employees in each school that has chosen to file.Next, the NLRB will survey employment conditions at USC and determine who is able to participate in a vote to elect the union. The survey will likely take place within the next week. USC will then have an opportunity to respond with whom they think should be included in the bargaining unit.In a letter to faculty in March of this year, Michael Quick, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, warned faculty of the potential pitfalls of union representation.“If the SEIU has its way, your right to represent yourself concerning pay, benefits and working conditions would be transferred to the SEIU, and you would have to pay dues to the SEIU as a condition of employment,” Quick wrote in the letter.But faculty counter that the university does not give non-tenure track faculty enough of a voice or provide effective recourse to address concerns. Levin is on the part-time faculty subcommittee, part of the committee for non-tenure track faculty in the Academic Senate. She said she believes the Senate serves an important function as an advisory body, but emphasizes it has no voting power.Alexis Disselkoen, a part-time faculty member at Roski said she loves her job and her students but her course load has continued to fluctuate in the four years she has taught here. The uncertainty, she said, has made the job more difficult.“I believe that USC has the resources to really be a leader in this effort and in bringing back the idea of being a college professor as an amazing job,” Disselkoen said. “It hasn’t been an amazing job for quite a while for quite a lot of people. Whereas once it was this coveted position that held a lot of cultural importance, now it’s daunting going from job to job just trying to make ends meet.”Disselkoen said to supplement her income, she has an office job on the side. In addition to increased transparency and job stability, Disselkoen said she hopes the union might help argue for health benefits for more non-tenure track faculty.She said she appreciates that the organizing effort has allowed her to meet faculty from across the University and hear their concerns. The filing does not mark the end of the faculty organizing campaign, but rather it is a first step in a much larger process and she hopes other schools within USC will follow suit. Like Disselkoen, Levin said she is pleased with the results of the organizing campaign thus far but she has already begun to examine what’s next.“Even though it can sometimes seem like the election is a big event, really the event is beyond that,” Levin said. “What comes next is the bargaining process. I think it’s more important to look down the road and say okay what are the issues that we want to bargain for.”