Faculty union, administration agree on contract extension raises

My understanding is that this will soon go to the membership for a vote. I vote yes. If you’re not a member yet, the info on joining is here. Bottom line is that faculty will get average 3% raises in Jan 2018 (old contract) and now 2% in Jan 2019, and 2.125% in Jan 2020, variously distributed as ATB, merit, gender equity and external equity. These raises and the continuing promotion raises will mean that UO faculty pay will likely decline relative to peer institutions. The union pushed for additional merit pay but obviously the UO budget is tight. Next time we should call it “excellence pay” – that might get more traction.

The gender equity raise is conditional on UO’s soon to be hired consultant finding something in the pay regressions that no one else has been able to find. Assuming they don’t, that will be distributed as ATB. The external equity raise will go to faculty in departments where pay by rank is 90% below peers, or about 1/3 of the TTF.

As the statement below explains, the agreement for an extension rather than a new round of contentious bargaining (which would have started in January) was a cooperative one between the union and the administration. The UO faculty have suffered from a long series of incompetent and transient administrations. That era is over, and the union has responded appropriately.

UAUO Statement on Tentative Agreement for Contract Extension

Late last week, we were able to reach a tentative agreement with the administration for a two-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We will be holding a ratification vote later this month. The agreement will only be finalized upon approval of a majority of voting members. This email contains a short summary of the agreement, followed by a longer explanation and a link to the tentative agreement. This tentative agreement is not to be confused with the final 3% average raise from our current contract which consists of a 2.25% merit pool and 0.75% across-the-board raise and will take effect on January 01, 2018.

Short summary: We agreed to a raise package for the 2018-19 and 2019-2020 years. This tentative contract extension reflects our desire to sustain salary growth & stability and correct observed inequities, even amid a highly constrained state and university budget context. Our current contract expires on June 30, 2018, but still includes a 3% raise package that goes into effect this coming January 01, 2018. The tentative contract extension builds on UA’s consecutive five-years of salary increases and will provide two additional years of salary raises, which will take effect in January 2019 and January 2020.

1. In the first year (beginning January 2019), the agreement is for a pool of money equal to 2.0% of the total salaries for the tenure-track faculty. The pool will be split between a 1.25% across-the-board raise for all TTF, and a .75% pool of money to address observed salary inequities by protected classes.
2. For the NTTF in the first year, there will be a 2.0% across-the-board raise.
3. In the second year (beginning January 2020), the TTF will have a pool of money equivalent to 2.125% of TTF salaries. This pool will be split between a 1.625% merit pool, and a .5% external equity pool.
4. In the second year, NTTF will have a 2.125% merit pool.

The negotiations with the university over this extension took place throughout this summer. We engaged in a relatively quick and quiet negotiation process with the university because both parties thought that a contract extension made sense in our current unsettled university climate. The state of the university’s budget it still abysmal and the additional pressure from the state about PERS funding has not helped. Many of you may recall the proposed double-digit tuition hikes and the woeful support from the state to cover university operating costs. The failure to find new revenue at the state level threatens higher education with continued pressure to increase tuition, which is something we have stood against. Recall that Oregon sits near the bottom in spending for higher education in the U.S. and in corporate tax receipts. This bind will continue to pose challenges to the UO and public education in Oregon.

Additionally, volatility in US immigration policy (see how nicely we put that?) has lead to deep concerns about the numbers of international students who will attend the university in the next few years. We also wanted to give our new Provost a chance to get a handle on his job before we entered into full-fledged negotiations with the university. The University of Oregon is not the typical research university, we have a strong commitment to shared governance and a deep respect for the work of the NTTF. We wanted to give Provost Banavar time to learn who we are before we bargained over sometimes contentious issues.

We are very aware that there are pressing issues that need to be addressed. Job stability for NTTF, both in length of employment and in assignment, still needs to be improved. Support for faculty with children is woefully lacking. The service that all faculty do is still extremely undervalued. Before we agreed to negotiate an extension, the Provost’s Office pledged to work with us over the next two years on these issues and more. We are putting some faith in the Provost’s Office, but we believe that they are committed to finding solutions to help build a better university.

Details and tentative agreement here.

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6 Responses to Faculty union, administration agree on contract extension raises

  1. Anonymous says:

    The external equity pool is based on comparisons to AAU comparators. But some UO departments are especially strong relative to the same departments at their comparators, and some are especially weak. The formulation does not address this, instead assuming that all departments are equally good for their discipline (by pegging every department’s external equity to the same threshold of 90%).

    I come from a department that is quite strong for its field. Our salaries are above the 90% threshold, so no external equity for us. But they have gotten that way largely through a neverending cycle of people getting outside offers that they leverage for raises (the union-negotiated raises have been miniscule in relation to the size of retention packages). This creates a toxic dynamic in my department. People initially seek outside offers for salary reasons but then get wooed away, so we lose good people, often right at the point in their careers when our investments of professional support and startup money are starting to pay off. Retention cases are a constant drain on everyone’s time and energy. And it creates equity pressure in our department, because a lot of merit-irrelevant factors go into a decision to seek an outside offer.

    Look, I am happy to see any and all of my colleagues in other departments get raises. But until the union faces the politically uncomfortable fact that there are higher- and lower-performing departments at UO, this approach is going to put a ceiling on what the strongest departments can do and work against the university’s claimed interest in rewarding “excellence.”

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    • uomatters says:

      I’m sympathetic to this argument, but here’s the data on NRC rank and UO full prof pay relative to comparators: http://uomatters.com/2015/08/idiots-guide-to-nrc-rankings.html

      It’s old data with plenty of problems, but the correlation is zero and the variance is huge. Whatever it is that determines faculty pay at UO relative to peers, it apparently is not merit relative to peers. More merit pay instead of equity pay would be a solution, but obviously the UO administration has not shown an ability to distribute it appropriately.

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      • Anonymous says:

        My argument implies that there should be a positive correlation, and there isn’t one. “Whatever it is that determines faculty pay at UO relative to peers, it apparently is not merit relative to peers” is pretty much what I am saying (as a matter of department-mean differences). I am not claiming that outside offers have been a strong enough force to set us right, only that they’re the only mechanism we have and they create problems.

        “More merit pay” would do nothing to address my concern so long as each department gets the same percentage pool, as has been the case ever since the union was formed.

        BTW I would not take away from equity. As I noted, the outside-offer cycle has created equity problems for us. I hope that at the least we will get a proportionate share of that pool to address them.

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        • uomatters says:

          I agree with what you say about the need for merit raise pools that differ by department. Nothing prevents the administration from adding that on top of the merit raise pools in the contract. I think if there were more money on the table for merit, the union would be sympathetic to writing that into the contract. I know I would be.

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          • uomatters says:

            I’ll add that the pay data shown (fulls, 2015) was almost entirely determined by the decisions of previous JH administrations, well before the first union contract.

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    • solidcitizen says:

      Which are the better departments, which are the worse ones, and how do you determine this?

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