Faculty Union to hold on-line Town Hall Friday, 4-5

The union has also made a $1300 donation to the Student Crisis Fund, and are asking the university to waive the 5% fee that they usually take off the top of small donations for administrative expenses, and instead charge the same 0% that large donors pay – to ensure that all this donation goes to help our students:

Spring Union Meeting

Dear Colleague:

United Academics will be hosting our quarterly general membership meeting remotely via Zoom this Friday at 4pm.

The leadership of United Academics will be on hand to answer members’ questions about how the university and the union are dealing with the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty are understandably anxious about the financial impact on the university, their units, and in the case of Pro Tem and Career faculty, their jobs. President Schill indicated that the administration will be talking with us about how faculty can “sacrifice” to help the campus. We anticipate discussing their proposal on Thursday and will have a report on that conversation.

Faculty have contacted UA about a variety of issues arising from the pandemic. While some of these concerns are member-specific, many others are of general interest. We invite all UA members to submit a question for Friday’s town hall. We will attempt to answer all questions during the town hall—of course some questions may require followup—and will post thorough answers to all questions on uauoregon.org.

Please submit your questions by email to info@uauoregon.org. Questions should be of general interest; if you have questions/concerns specific to your situation, we are happy to address them one-on-one.

Details on how to access the Zoom will be sent later this week. The meeting starts at 4pm on Friday, and we will upload a recording for those who cannot attend synchronously.

We hope the pandemic finds you and your loved ones safe at home. We look forward to seeing you (virtually) on Friday.

Students in Crisis Fund

We wanted to share that UAUO is donating a bit over $1300 to the University’s Students in Crisis Fund. This money is not from your dues – it came to the union from membership fees paid by faculty to the pre-union AAUP Chapter.

We have asked the Administration to waive the 5% fee that they usually take off the top of small donations for administrative expenses, and instead charge us the same 0% that large donors pay – to ensure that all this donation goes to help our students.

We encourage all of you who are able to consider donating to this crisis fund – and we encourage you to also ask the Administration to waive the 5% fee, by emailing our VP for Advancement at miandrea@uoregon.edu, after you’ve made a donation.

The website for donations is at  https://duckfunder.uoregon.edu/project/20563/donate

Career Faculty Face Layoff or Non-Renewal

It’s early days, and some may see this report from the faculty union as alarmist.

On the other hand it’s important faculty understand what the administration is thinking, and you can’t count on VP for Strategic Communications Kyle Henley to communicate the administration’s strategic thinking on Around the O.

Full post below or see the union website at https://mailchi.mp/uauoregon/career-faculty-face-layoff-or-non-renewal?e=b103ce406c

Executive Summary: Officers of United Academics met with senior administrators to discuss current and future efforts to respond to COVID-19. We pushed admin to make a commitment to the Career faculty who could lose their jobs in the near future. The administration did not make any commitments.

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Faculty Union responds to Admin’s half-baked buyout scheme

Under the latest PERS reform, UO now has to pay into PERS for administrators like Brad Shelton and Lorraine Davis (yes, of course Lorraine’s still on the payroll) who are double dipping on salary and retirement. That change applies to faculty as well, substantially increasing the benefit to UO from getting older Tier 1 faculty to retire outright, rather than go on reduced FTE assignments.

You’d think the administration would recognize this, but instead they want to reduce faculty incentives to retire. Weird. The message from the union bargaining team today:

UA wants you to control your plans for retirement.

Executive Summary:
The administration presented their retirement/buyout proposal. It would give the administration complete control over when faculty could be bought out.

Bargaining is suspended for the foreseeable future. The UA office is closed until at least Monday, March 30. Officers and staff are working remotely and continue to be available at info@uauoregon.org.


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MMXX-X bargaining today, 12-3PM in 125 Chiles

MMXX-X live-blog. My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook page. Usual disclaimer: This is my opinion and interpretation of what the bargainers are saying, thinking, or should be saying or thinking. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

Cecil: How about canceling the next 3 weeks of bargaining? Matella: OK, we can talk about on-line remote sessions too.

Cecil, meanwhile, we have:

Article 4: Unit Level policies. Union counterproposal

Cecil: We’ve backed off the requirement that Deans have to come to a department meeting to explain their changes in department policies, by adding an out if 2/3 of faculty don’t want to hear the dean’s speech, or if the changes are not substantive. Doesn’t need to be a special meeting, just the next regular department meeting.

Rosiek: UO has weak faculty governance, need to improve it by making it easy for faculty to call admins to account.

Article 9, Union Rights: Admin counter

Peter Fehrs from admin side presents: We’ve struck the fine for getting the union late lists of faculty hires, and added a clause weakening the union’s right to know who is in the bargaining unit. Weird.

Cecil: Legislation is pretty clear that employers have to share info on new hires with the union, and share the info with the union. [The administration doesn’t want the union to have this on a timely basis, to make it harder for the union to sign up new members, and they’re being pretty stubborn arguing that they don’t need to keep up to date records.]

Matella: We know we’ve beeen really bad about doing this in the past. We promise to do better.

Cecil: Your mistakes cost us time fixing them for you, and cost us money paying per-caps. Hence the late fee we propose.

Matella: We don’t like the idea of you imposing financial penalties on us. It’s a matter of principle. And money.

Cecil: You want us to spend the union’s money and time fixing your mistakes, with no consequences for you. Do you think we don’t understand incentives? Fehrs: Would you rather we stop collecting dues for you?

Cecil: We just learned that you’ve been paying someone fall and winter when they weren’t even working. Can’t you just fix your systems?

Matella: We’re all doing a lot of work getting this right. Cecil: Why did it take an act of the legislature to get you to make any fixes?

Art 39: Acceptable Use. Admin “re-issue” based on constructive talks with Leo Howell at last session:

Cecil: We’ll take a look at it and get back to you.

Art 31: Tenure Transition, Admin Counter:

These are the administration’s proposals on changing the current Tenure Reduction Program to a Tenure Transition Program. Makes it a three year gradual transition. Union proposed a buy-out program – leave the TRP early, get a buy-out payment. Admin accepts this in principal, but is much weaker than the union’s. Give the *admin* the right to buy out faculty, and cuts the amount of the buy-out.

Old TRP is now called the Tenure Relinquishment Program. No new enrollment in it after July 1, 2022. Faculty can choose one or the other.

Cecil: Why can’t faculty make the call on buy-out, rather than the admins?

Matella: We can’t pay you for work you don’t do.

Cecil: Faculty are giving up something of value – tenure, you’re paying them to give it up. That’s a legal contract.

Matella gets confused. This is basic Paper Chase contract stuff.

Matella: I tried to write it so faculty could choose, but so it would sound like admin did.

Cecil: Sure you did. But the language here is not binding.

[I thought the UO pretended that Gottfredson voluntarily left for that $940K, not that he was fired and got it as compensation. Now they’re claiming that was illegal?]

Matella: Legal concerns aside, Administration is interested in some way of letting faculty buy out.

Cecil: Thanks, we’ll look at this language.

Matella: We don’t want to give faculty on TTP or TRP sabbaticals. [Although our board of trustees did right a special sweetheart sabbatical/retirement deal for Law Professor Michael Schill].

Green: Why is the administration intent on devaluing the work that faculty who’ve spent their entire professional lives here, with pay far below comparators, by being petty in their last years?

Matella: Sorry, not at all my intent. Hope we can work things out.

Epstein: The old TRP gave TTF an incentive to retire, so UO could give jobs to new PhDs. This weakens that incentive. Why?

Matella: Got it.

Lots more back and forth, the union will be back with a counter.

1:35: Cecil calls for a caucus.

more discussion

2:00: Session ends early. 

Prelude from this morning:

I have no idea what will happen. I’ll try and live-blog. Presumably Matella will start off by explaining that all the new IMG media contract money will be going for coaches salaries and the new $12M Autzen video screen. UO won’t say how much the contract will bring in, our how the money will be shared, but I’ve got PR requests in. Meanwhile, our Administration is hiding lots of zeros:

From what I can tell at the moment, after the Duck Dept of Athletics steps on it, the academic side’s leftover slice of licensing revenue goes directly to VP Kyle Henley, for “strategic communications”:

Leave PEBB and give everyone a 5% raise with no cuts to benefits


Given the proposal by the UO Administration’s lead bargainer Missy Matella along these lines during Thursday’s bargaining, this seems like a good time to repost this from 2013. The numbers below are old and for all Oregon universities not just UO, but very roughly they suggest potential savings for UO of perhaps $20M a year from self-insurance, with no cuts in health benefits. That would buy a lot of parking and day care, or about a 5% raise for faculty, OA’s, and SEIU staff. And Duck coaches, I suppose.

Obviously no sane person would trust the UO Administration not to use such a change to weaken  benefits, particularly after their attempt to do so during the recent GTFF bargaining. And Matella seems pretty sane. But the Faculty Union could write legal protections into the CBA that would guarantee no increase in deductibles etc. Hence Matella’s appeal to the Union.

8/29/2013: UO benefits: Cost vs. value

During the first year of Gottfredson’s administration UO faculty pay has fallen still further behind the average at other AAU public universities:

  • Full profs: down from 85% to 82%
  • Associate profs: down from 92% to 90%
  • Assistant profs: down from 93% to 89%

The UO administration is now arguing that generous UO benefits justify not getting UO salaries to AAU peer levels. However, while benefits at UO may be more expensive than those at our peers (though that’s an open question, see bottom) that does not mean that they are more valuable to faculty.

In a nutshell, UO pays about 25% more for health care than employees get in benefits. The loss is equivalent to about 4% of salary for the average professor. UO pays as much as 33% more for retirement benefits than employees get in retirement value, making UO retirement benefits worth perhaps as little as 2% more than those at our comparators. UO also does not provide housing subsidies, and other benefits, that many other AAU publics provide.

All in all I think the burden is on the administration to show that UO benefits are more valuable than those at our comparators – and they’ve made no serious effort to do this.
Lots of ins and outs here, I’m sure it’s not all correct for PERS, and it ignores some twists. Comments are welcome – I’m talking to you, Bernie – and I will try to update this in response. It’s mainly about faculty but I think most of it applies to other UO employees.

Health benefits:

Health insurance costs UO $1260 a month, per covered employee, paid to the state PEBB health care plan. This rate is the same for all state employees.

OUS has tried to withdraw from PEBB, because OUS employees are healthier than the rest of the state work-force. Hannah Hoffman has a good story on this in the SJ, with a link to the OUS report, which says:

By PEBB’s own accounting, the Oregon University System is a net payer into the state insurance program. In 2011, PEBB estimated a fiscal impact of $51 million if OUS were to separate from the state insurance program. The SB 242 Financial Analysis conducted for this report estimates that if OUS had operated an independent health insurance program in 2010 and 2011, there would have been a savings of about $67 million for this two year period compared to PEBB with self-insured OUS medical and dental plans, and about $49 million if fully-insured plans had been used.

Let’s call it $59M for the 2009-2011 biennium. OUS PEBB claims totaled $235M for the same period. So the subsidy is roughly 25%. OUS used this argument to try and get out of the PEBB system, arguing that it was wrong for student tuition to go to subsidize benefits for non-university state employees.

The corresponding argument is that the value of UO’s health benefits to its employees is only about 75% of what UO pays in costs to PEBB.

Retirement benefits:

Way more complicated. The basic argument is that the state retirement plan, PERS, has a large unfunded actuarial liability, or UAL. The state has promised more to current retirees and workers than it has set aside to pay them, and now it is balancing the books, by increasing what UO has to pay in. These extra payments are not entirely of value to current faculty!

Last I looked the UAL was about $16B in 2009, market recovery has reduced it to I think $8B. The goal is to shrink that to $0 over 20 years, and then have a fully funded system with reserves sufficient to pay all promises. Once that is achieved, contributions for current workers would fall, and would all go towards their own benefits when they retire, paid from their own contributions plus the earnings from their contributions. See here for more:

In the meantime, current payments by UO for employee retirement benefits go in part to reduce the UAL for past retirees. If you want an illuminating anecdote, read Ted Sickinger’s amazing piece in the Oregonian about former UO football coach Mike Bellotti. UO paid only a few hundred thousand dollars into PERS for him while he was working. Bellotti’s benefits are about $500K a year, and his unfunded liability is about $10M.

So, a good chunk of the money UO pays to PERS, ostensibly for your retirement, actually goes to pay for Coach Bellotti and others of his ilk. You’d have to be quite the sports fan – like UO VPFA Jamie Moffitt – to count this as a valuable benefit.

How much does this reduce the value to you of what UO pays in retirement benefits into PERS? The official “PERS by the Numbers” guide estimates it’s 33%:

Approximately 68% of PERS’ total accrued liability is for members who are no longer working in PERS-covered employment (retirees and inactives). As a result, approximately 33% of an employer’s contribution rate is associated with these groups.

For more, see the Fall 2012 actuarial report, here:

So it’s perfectly clear?

What are UO’s contribution rates to PERS? It varies by when you were hired. Tier 1,2 is pre 2003. Current (post SB 822) rates are here:

The 6% pickup contribution, paid by UO, goes to the PERS fund for old hires (I think) and into a separate fully funded defined contribution IAP account for newer ones. And if you opted into the ORP, all the money goes into an independent defined contribution plan. You’re not helping out Bellotti at all, you free-rider.

Let’s say that, on average, retirement benefits cost UO 17.5% of salary, including the 6% pickup. If we trust PERS, 1/3 of that is a subsidy to current retirees. So, lets say the value to the average UO employee is a bit less than 12%.

(However, for people who opted into the ORP defined contribution plan, all their contributions go into their own individual accounts – no subsidy for the Bellotti’s.)

For AAU publics the average cost of retirement benefits is about 10%. Now maybe some of them are also dealing with UAL’s, using similar subsidies, so their value might also be less than their costs.

But if not – and keep in mind there are plenty of other caveats, most notably the ORP one – the value of UO’s retirement benefits is on the order of 2% more than our comparators, not the 6% number the administration trots out. Having strong retirement benefits will help put you on the way to a happy, prosperous retirement, but for extra financial security once your working days are over, you might want to receive support from a financial advice group such as Key, who can help you when it comes to matters of equity and annuities. Companies such as that can help when it comes to creating a budget for retirement so you aren’t left out in the end wondering where your money has gone. If you still don’t fully understand what equity you have in your home and how it can help benefit you in your retirement or would simply like more information then go to equityrelease.co.uk.

For some people, planning how much money they’ll have for their retirement may seem like a long way off, but preparing for this situation now could help to make sure that everything is already in place. Especially when it comes to your finances. Having enough money saved in an IRA can help to make sure that you will be able to live off this money when you are no longer receiving an income. Some people may even make the decision to invest in precious metals such as gold and silver to further establish their financial security. With help from companies similar to Lear Capital, (you can learn more here) you can build upon the funds you already have in your accounts to make sure that you are able to live out your retirement years in the best way possible. But it could be paramount to your financial situation that you decide to start planning for your retirement now.

Housing benefits:

UO has nothing. I haven’t done a real search, but here are a few programs by other AAU publics to help faculty buy houses. Many also have university owned, heavily subsidized faculty housing, typically used by new hires while they save for a down payment.

U of Colorado. While Paul Weinhold at the UO Foundation gave Pat Kilkenny a balloon loan for his baseball park, the UC Foundation will actually give their faculty subsidized loans to buy a house. https://www.cusys.edu/academicaffairs/documents/FHAP-description.pdf

UCSD. 40 years subsidized rates, plus help with the down payment: http://academicaffairs.ucsd.edu/resource-admin/homeloan/

UW. Pretty modest: http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/saving/housing/hometown-loan.html

UCSB. Subsidized, low down payment rates for up to $1.3M: http://www.housing.ucsb.edu/faculty-housing and https://ap.ucsb.edu/policies.and.procedures/red.binder/sections/%5B1_17%5D%20New%20Ladder%20Faculty%20Commitments.pdf

MMXX-IX: Bargaining live blog

Synopsis: Coming later.

MMXX-IX live-blog. Bargaining teams seem corona free, operating at a cool 91.6 degrees so far:

125 Chiles 12-3PM 3/5/2020: My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook page. Usual disclaimer: This is my opinion and interpretation of what the bargainers are saying, thinking, or should be saying or thinking. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

Article 7, Faculty Handbook. Union Counter:

First time we bargained, Tim Gleason talked himself in circles about why we couldn’t have a simple online Faculty Handbook, hence this article requiring one. This time, the Union’s Dave Cecil spent a few hours over the weekend and created a searchable pdf, here: http://uauoregon.org/uo-policy-library/ So the union is proposing we get rid of this article. Matella seems happy.

Career/NTTF issues:

Cecil asks why last week’s proposals were so nasty to the Career/NTTF faculty. Union got lots of unhappy feedback – particularly about the plan to allow Admin to lay them off with 90 days notice. Matella: I want to give new hires the impression that they have an expectation of continuous employment. But Moffitt tells me there’s a hole in the bucket – hence the 90 days out clause for the administration.

Cecil: You understand why your proposal is not reassuring? Matella: I promise to protect them from the Deans. Cecil: You’re a lovely person. We like you. But we’re bargaining a contract.

Article 39: Acceptable Use of Computing Resources. Admin proposal here.

UO’s IT security director Leo Howell is here.

Cecil: Suppose I buy a MacBook and click the option to encrypt the drive. A violation?

Howell: We’re not trying to prevent that. [But the language does.] Then goes on to say that Apple has built in a back door that allows them to decrypt. [This surprises me and I wonder if it’s true.]

Sinclair: What about using RSA to encrypt email? Howell: Only if it’s set up so the university has a key.

Cecil: What if you’re doing, say, human rights work overseas that requires encryption? Howell: Again, encryption must goes through UO Info Serv.

Sinclair: Suppose someone’s been using RSA for 20 years. Could they be disciplined? Matella: Yes, but we’d be happy if they just fixed it with IS going forward.

Cecil: New 2-step process requires using a phone to use UO systems. Are you going to require their personal phones only use encryption UO can break? Howell: For grants requiring confidentiality, we’ll need to be able to verify personal devices are compliant.

Cecil: What about student grades? Howell: FERPA is medium risk. We don’t have enough money to be too secure with it.

Cecil: Suppose I send my publisher an email with a paper. The fact that I did it on a UO device doesn’t mean you own it, right? Matella: Right. Just that it’s a searchable public record.

Cecil: What’s a “reasonable response time” to tell faculty their data has been compromised? Howell: Varies. Might be a situation where we can’t tell users til later. Cecil: Makes sense, proposal needs more explanation for clarity. Matella: yes.

Green: Has UO’s phone system been hacked? Howell: Not that I know of – but that doesn’t mean no. UO phones are connected to the network. Green: So are voicemail messages stored, and accessible to admins? Howell: I’ll look into that. Green: Worried that people may expect voicemail to be confidential. Matella: I’ll look into whether or not they are public records.

Cecil: Your proposal repeated says changes to university policy override this article. Why? Matella: Yes, it does. Cecil: So the President could entirely rewrite this, as an “emergency or temporary policy”? Matella: Yes, he could. We should review this issue more generally since it could come up with other articles as well. Cecil: Unless we have an article that overrides that specific issues. Matella: I think current policies are in. I think changes that affect policies, even if they go through the full policy process, do not override the CBA, if there is specific language in the CBA that conflicts. Both sides seem to agree on this needs to be more explicit, in general, in Article 6.

Cecil: We look forward to your revision of this. Thanks Leo!

Article 15, Academic Classification. Union counter:

Creates a new “PostBaccalaureate Scholar” position for recent grads. Paid, mentored.

Cecil: We took out the “retired” classification since it’s silly to call people who are still working retired. They fit into other classifications. Matella: Got it. Get back on it.

Cecil: Last time you refused to create the position of Teaching Professor. But you’ve got two “professor” titles that don’t even require terminal degrees. WTF? You just trying to dis the long-term Career/NTTF’s who’ve spent their professional lives here?

Urbancic: Job title is one of the things think about when look at jobs. Our proposal for a Teaching Professor classification is a response. When students call an NTTF – who may have been teaching here 20 years – “professor” it’s awkward and soul-destroying to have to keep responding “well, actually, I am not nor can I ever be …”.

Urbancic then produces data on to the data, of the 65 AAU universities, 21 have a “professor” title of some sort for teaching faculty – and that’s just looking at 3 disciplines. For example, the University of Chicago, where they call them “Instructional Professors”. Other AAU schools doing this include Harvard, NYU, Berkeley, etc.

Urbancic then notes that we appear to be far behind the curve on this, and the administration’s rejection of the union’s proposal – using it only at the end of a long distinguished teacher career – seems quite modest. As to the Administration’s rejection of the expectation of continued employment, Physics, Chemistry, and Theatre Arts have done this for years, at no apparent cost to their reputations.

[FWIW, some Econ Prof named Harbaugh – not me – has a paper on this:

which could be read as arguing that the UO Administration’s obstinance on this teaching professor title suggests some insecurity about UO’s academic excellence. ]

Matella: Thanks, we’ll review this helpful information and respond. Henry calms down.

1:43: We need a break. Cecil just keeps on going.

Article 16, Notices of Appointment. Union counter:

This is important stuff on layoffs and contract security, I’m listening not blogging. Probably best to wait for the Union summary early next week.

2:16PM – They’re back. Agree to delete Article 7. 

Article 4, Unit Level Policies. Administration Counter:

The faculty union proposal is here. The administration’s team has not yet figured out how to post pdfs to the web.

This is about the union’s efforts to weaken the Deans’s micromanagement and strengthen departmental authority over their internal governance policies. The administration’s team seems fairly responsive. Karen Ford is trying to make sure it’s practical. Matella is worried about dysfunctional departments and the ability that some small group of disgruntled faculty will use it to obstruct reasonable efforts by the deans. Cecil is arbitrating.

Rosiek: Deans have made substantive changes without consulting departments. Old policy is not working. Union’s proposal requires them to face the faculty before doing anything substantively stupid. Matella: Requiring a meeting every time is insane. Faculty can always request a meeting with Dean. How about if we include that language in notifications of policy changes? Cecil: We’ll counter. Ford: I worry that, currently, I work on revisions with dept head. I don’t know for sure that they then involve the faculty. How about if I use a listserv to tell the faculty in case the head is not communicating? Cecil: CAS does a good job with this, problem is other colleges. We appreciate that your counter accepts timeline. Matella: We accepted many of your other changes as well. Cecil: Thanks, we’ll counter.

Article 27: Benefits. Admin counter 

Matella: PEBB says you need 80 hours service in a month to get PEBB health care. Given this we are trying to figure out how to get people continuing health benefits given this constraint.

Matella: Given how expensive and difficult PEBB is, how about the union and administration cooperating to work on a proposal for the Legislature to take UO out of PEBB. [This is a great idea. Would save UO somewhere around $10M a year, and eliminate the problems we have now making sure people on variable appointments get insurance.]

Article 28: Fringe Benefits, Admin Counter:

Matella: We agree to give all faculty and OAs Bus passes etc.

Matella: Number 1 problem with union’s child care proposal is cost of ~$5.5M. That includes child care for when faculty are assigned to teach at night. We know there is a child-care crisis, we’re trying to come up with cheap ways to deal with it in Sections 6 & 7.

Matella: Parking. We’re working on Park and Ride solutions, as in park at Autzen, or in Glenwood, and take a bus. New car pool matching system! Parking mentors! Zip cars!

Matella: Also, cars are unsustainable. You faculty are causing global warming. Stop it. Also we are adding a 900 car garage for the Knight Campus.

Cecil: We’ll be back with a market based Pareto Optimal parking solution from the Economics Department.

3:06PM That’s it, see you next week.

Union Pres Sinclair: What would it take for a strike? Recap on Bargaining MMXX-VIII

3/2/2020: Full email to Faculty Union on what went down last Thursday here, this is just the summary:

A Note from UA President Chris Sinclair

Since the establishment of our union, the University of Oregon has moved to a model of faculty compensation that rewards excellence at promotion and regular intervals post-promotion. These excellence raises are coupled with smaller yearly raises which (though they are not always structured as cost-of-living adjustments) ensure we are not falling behind between major reviews. While the exact numbers and configuration of the yearly raises is subject to bargaining, the compensation system is stable enough to allow for financial and strategic planning by administrators, and it provides positive incentives for faculty to exceed expectations in their work to support the mission of the university.

The administration proposes to change this system by offering far-less-than-inflation yearly raises, and reducing excellence raises from 4-8% to 1.5-3%. Moreover, they are proposing that we return to the old-boys system of distributing raises whereby deans and the provost control disbursement of some of the raise pool without regard to departmental merit policies.

Suffice it to say, this economic proposal will be vociferously countered by the union. Our initial proposal was to maintain the 4-8% excellence raises as well as 3%, 9%, and 4% yearly raises (distributed between COLA, merit, and equity) over the three years of the contract. I do not suspect we will be moving off of our initial proposal until we see a reasonable economic proposal from the university that covers inflation and maintains the current level of excellence raises.

This brings us to the subject of what you can do to ensure fair faculty compensation.

First: come to bargaining! Sit in the audience, write some emails or grade some papers. Simply by being there you are proving to the administration that you care about your contract/compensation, and that you are paying attention to their insulting offers.

Second: think about what it would take for you to go out on strike. At this point, we are far from declaring a strike, and we hope that we can avoid one. However, our ultimate power as a union is the ability to withhold our labor, and each of us needs to decide where the line between fair compensation and administrative exploitation is.

Finally, talk to your colleagues about bargaining, and how they feel about their compensation. We are always happy to swing by your unit/department/lab to hear your opinions and talk through unit-specific concerns.

Bargaining MMXX-VIII live-blog: Admin counter on raises is a 4% real cut

Synopsis: The administration came back with a proposal for annual 1.65% raises, all merit, no COLA. With Western US inflation running at about 3% a year, this amounts to real annual pay cuts of about 1.3% a year, or 4% over the 3-year contract. There are also cuts to post-tenure review raises, and a very small internal equity pool. The proposal also takes some of the merit money away from departments and gives it to deans to distribute at their pleasure.

The reception from the union bargaining team, and the many faculty in the room, was predictably chilly. Matella repeatedly backed off, saying this was just their first offer. Presumably the union will give a counter proposal soon.

Matella also said that this low-ball proposal was conditioned on the. administration’s estimates of the costs of the union’s other proposals, so those might need to be resolved before there’s any real progress towards equilibrium. But the administration didn’t counter those today, presumably out of a desire to drag this thing out til summer.

MMXX-VIII live-blog. My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook page. Usual disclaimer: This is my opinion and interpretation of what the bargainers are saying, thinking, or should be saying or thinking. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

The room is packed with faculty – and a small claque of well paid senior admins.

The session starts with VPFA Jamie Moffitt giving the administration’s take on the budget and “cost drivers”. The Union team has to drink a shot every time she says “bucket”. Also, there’s Bingo! Must be present to win.

Moffitt gives the usual powerpoint presentation, which we’ve heard many times. She’s getting better at it, sprinkling in folksy phrases like “a pretty scary number”.  Among the things she does not mention:

UO’s overall annual budget is about $1.1B. The E&G (Educational and General) bucket is about $650M. Faculty salaries and benefits are about $200M, or less than a third of that. Plenty of ways to reallocate money.

$2.5M subsidy for the Jock Box from the E&G fund. $500K for Matt Court. $350K for Autzen skybox.

$10M subsidy for the law school.

Declining number of faculty, increasing number of top administrators.

Payments to consultants such as Brad Shelton’s Academic Analytics, Kevin Reed’s outside law firms, the new “Hearts and Minds” PR campaign, Ellen Herman’s Faculty Tracking Software, Yvette Alex-Assensoh’s expensive custom Campus Climate surveys, etc. I’ll have more on these costs later – because Moffitt, who is ostensibly in charge of them, won’t.

Taking ~$2.3M from the academic side to pay for the Hayward Field utility tunnel and wire up The Phildo, while claiming Knight is paying for it all.

Borrowing money to build new dorms in time for the 2021 Track & Field championships.

Sending UO’s lobbyists to the legislature to ask for $40M for the championships, and $110M for Knight Campus, instead of money for UO’s core academic mission.

Moffitt does deliver some actual good news, on PERS. UO’s PERS costs are down this year. The legislature has already taken steps to stretch out the amortization period, and if they do the logical thing and stretch it out to 30 years, the problem goes away.

She mentions the new guaranteed tuition scheme. If the BoT adopts this, it will lock in each class of students at a constant *nominal* tuition – i.e. declining real tuition. If enrollment or state funding goes down, this will create a real budget crisis. Or, from the administration’s point of view, an opportunity to lay-off faculty and eliminate raises for the following round of union bargaining.

Moffitt’s done, Union team caucuses.

They’re back. No questions for Moffitt, since everyone already knows exactly how she’ll avoid answering them.

Moving on the the Administration’s Salary counter-proposal:

Matella: It’s a risky world. And the Union put all kinds of expensive stuff in other articles. (I’m guessing she doesn’t mean the proposal to create a Teaching Professor title.)

Their counter:

1.65% pool for merit increases, each year. 0.25% of that 1.65% will be held back from departments by the deans, to be allocated at their discretion to their buddies. to the exceptionally meritorious, as determined by the deans.

Keeps the 8% promotion raises. Cuts the 4% post-promotion review raises to 1.5-3%.

Establishes a one-time $450K pool for internal equity raises. (i.e. about 0.1% of salary over the 3 years.) Administration decides who gets it. Seems to be nothing to prevent them from giving it all to faculty outside the bargaining unit i.e. PI’s, law professors, department heads. But’s it’s so little money, who cares.


The Administration can cancel these raises if the state cuts the amount the state gives to the PUSF fund (which supports all the public universities.

Cecil: Ignoring the cuts in real pay you are proposing, why are you being so petty about taking control of part of merit raises away from the departments?

Sinclair: You really want departments to do a full merit review for everybody, every year, for merit increases of 1.4%?

Matella: Yes. And we’ll be cutting your base pay 3% a year, after inflation.

Henry, normally the best-behaved member of the union team, can’t take it any more. Eleanor has to take him out of the room, over his vocal protests.

Epstein to Matella: How do you suggest we spin merit raises that are less than the cost of living to potential new hires?

Matella: What’s the Portland Metro CPI increasing at?

Random Economist: They no longer compile it. Western US is running at about 3.1%. Cecil: Shut up Harbaugh, last I looked it was 2.9%.

Matella: This is just our first counter. “I’d prefer to have more money to recruit and retain our most meritorious faculty”.

Rosiek: “So, overall you’re proposing a 4% cut in real pay over the 3 years. That’s not a question.”

Cecil: If you don’t have money to pay current faculty, why are Schill and Phillips still hiring new ones? What went on in the room of really smart people, when they asked Brad Shelton how this would impact raises for current faculty? Did he actually believe that Chuck Lillis and the Board would come through with the funding they promised when they got the legislature to pass SB270?

Matella: This is just our starting proposal. But I believe 1.4% a year will be enough to recruit and retain excellent faculty. Besides, we have no problem offering good starting salaries, and we think new PhD’s are too dumb to read the contract before accepting an offer.

Moving on to Section 4, on promotion etc.

Cecil: Why are you cutting post-tenure review raises at the same time you’re threatening full profs with a quickie way to take away their tenure?

Matella: Yeah, that was a mistake. We’ll be back with something less nuclear.

Cecil: Current senior faculty have been able to go through 2 cycles of 4% post-tenure raises. You’ll introduce inequities.

Random Economist: Even with those raises, at UO full profs are only paid 87% of our comparators:

Green: The Oregon Equal Pay Act requires you to make equity adjustments, even without the union contract. So you’re going to be legally required to pay more than this anyway, as soon as someone wins a lawsuit. Why do you think we’d bargain over your legal obligations.

Matella: Right. But remember, last year we spent $120K on an external consultant who told us we didn’t have any big equity problems. [See 6/3/2019: UO pays equity consultant ~$120,000 to give 12 faculty $4,700 raises] We need. your help taking the fall again.

Cecil: The Faculty didn’t start a Union to give the Administration carte blanche control over faculty raises. As in past CBA’s, our proposal gives the departments the power – write clear policies, use them to give raises. Why do you want to take that away?

Matella: Kevin Reed is freaking over the OEPA, or at least we’re hoping you’ll believe he is. Can you help us write criteria that would give the Provost control of raises?

Cecil: We gave you a proposal. You ignored it when you wrote this.

Epstein: Section 5 is about retention raises. If you really have no money, how can you afford this? Matella: That’s money we have to spend. And we won’t tell you how big that pool is.

Moving on to Section 8: Funding Level.

[One of the more obvious problems with this poorly written section is that it activates when the statewide PUSF is cut. Suppose the state closes EOU, SOU, WOU, takes 1/2 their money out of the PUSF for OSAC scholarships and redistributes the rest to UO and the remaining universities. Triggered.]

Cecil: So, if state funding is cut, you can cancel all the raises? Matella: We’d bargain with you for 90 days. It might not be a freeze. Cecil: If we don’t agree in 90 days, then you get to do whatever you want?

[On the budget matter, Moffitt’s E&G bucket is about $650M. Faculty salaries and benefits are about $200M.]

New admin proposal on University Distinguished Teaching Faculty:

This is a bizarre Admin counter to the Union’s proposal on “Teaching Professors”. The Administration won’t let distinguished teaching NTTF’s title’s include the magic word “professor” or give them job security. Would give them shot at a 3-year appointment with a $3K stipend (not a permanent raise) and 2 course releases per year for TEP service. So the administration is proposing to *reduce* the amount of teaching our best teachers do? Why not give them a better title and a raise instead?


The Admin is back with counters on Notices of Appointment and Career Faculty Review etc. But I’m done live-blogging. See you next week.

2/24/2020: VII recap – Here’s what the union proposed back on Jan 9th for pay:

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Bargaining MMXX-VII: What’s a professor?

12-3PM, 125 Chiles. I’ll try to live-blog it. Other bargaining posts here, Budget Buckets here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook.

Synopsis: The Administration’s team is “doing everything humanly possible to respond to the union’s proposals”, but still doesn’t have much in the way of substantive responses. Except that they don’t want to call anyone a “Teaching Professor”.

ARTICLE 20 – Tenure Review and Promotion – Union counter to Admin proposal. Would make mid-term (3rd year) reviews of assistant profs advisory, instead of the current situation where they can be used to get rid of them early by giving them terminal contracts.

Long discussion of the diversity statements. There’s some revisionist history about why the current CBA says “should also include discussion of contributions to institutional equity and inclusion.” The original argument for this was to give women and minority faculty a place to point out their extra service and mentoring work. Now the union wants to make it mandatory for everyone. The admin team is pushing back, pointing out that these statements are often just window-dressing.

Post-tenure reviews: Union team wants department’s to develop the policies, deans and provost to make sure they are followed. Does not want a situation where faculty have to come up for tenure again every 6 years, with the administration in charge of setting the standards.

ARTICLE 40 – No Strike, No Lockout. Union counter. Faculty who agree to do work performed by a striking employee will get at least $75 an hour.

ARTICLE 33 – Sabbatical. Union counter. Takes out the admin language denying sabbaticals to people who have signed up for the TRP.

ARTICLE 15 – Academic Classification and Rank. Admin counter.

The Administration is refusing to give the title Teaching Professor to long term Carreer/NTTF with demonstrated teaching excellence, though they are open to the concept of recognizing/rewarding them somehow. This got pretty heated, mostly because Matella was unable to offer anything substantive to counter the union’s proposal.

“The University” divorces itself from expensive, spoiled faculty

Scroll down to the bottom. The rest of their email is a mix of hyperbole, charmingly self-righteous indignation and omissions (e.g. their proposal to let department heads de-tenure professors) with a few interesting but generally off-message factoids.

The University’s bargaining website, which they link to in this email, doesn’t even have links to their own proposals. Weird, even Rudnick did that. The Faculty union has posted all of theirs here.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in divorce court, but this sort of message might be more effective if The University had explained how they got their $140M number, or had actually put some economic counter-offers of their own on the table and costed them, before sending this nastygram to their life-partner and all their friends and relatives:

Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 12:46 PM
To: aallist@lists.uoregon.edu
Subject: [AALList] United Academics and university bargaining update

**Sent on behalf of Missy Matella**

This message contains details on bargaining between United Academics and the university on the following main points:

    • Estimated costs of UA proposals over the contract period would exceed $140 million.
    • By year three of the contract, UA proposals would add over $55 million of recurring costs – that is more than the combined general fund budgets of the College of Design, School of Law, and the Honors College.
    • UO has presented proposals that align with our bargaining principles of faculty support, equity and inclusion, and respecting the roles of the parties at the table as well as other campus constituents.

Dear Colleagues,

As we continue February bargaining sessions with United Academics, I want to give you a status update, share more information about the costs of UA proposals, and provide an overview of university proposals:

    • Estimated costs of UA proposals would exceed $140 million.
      Based on the costing committee’s preliminary analysis and evaluation of UA proposals presented thus far, its proposals would likely exceed $140 million over the course of the contract. By year three of the contract, UA’s proposals would add over $55 million of reoccurring costs.

Given that this is more than the combined general fund budgets of the College of Design, the School of Law, and the Honors College, the university could not fund UA proposals without taking significant action to decrease its costs and increase its revenue. As many of you know, the university’s biggest cost is its personnel and its primary revenue streams are tuition and state funding.

UA estimated that its opening economic proposals would cost $40 million dollars. That estimate did not appear to include UA’s other articles with substantial economic impact – proposals related to release time, research support, professional responsibilities, and facilities and support.

    • UO proposals align with our bargaining principles of faculty support, equity, and inclusion.
      The university’s bargaining team has presented several proposals and counter proposals that reflect UO’s commitment to equitable and fair processes for faculty. This includes:

      • Adding process for appeals from promotion and expanding appeal rights to cover mid-term reviews (Article 21);
      • Providing greater clarity with respect to the review period for promotion and tenure evaluations and ensuring that only relevant and vetted information is allowed in the tenure file (Article 20);
      • Incorporating the student experience survey related to teaching into the promotion and review processes – recognizing the important work being done in this area and emphasizing the value and importance of teaching for our faculty (Article 20);
      • Changing summer session assignments to stabilize and support study abroad and increasing access to these programs. Our proposal makes it clear that summer programs, such as Global Education Oregon, can issue rules with respect to summer appointments and salary (Article 18);
      • Accepting UA’s language related to sabbatical FTE calculation that makes it easier to project and calculate sabbatical pay, which ensures fairer and more consistent calculations (Article 33); and
      • Emphasizing our commitment to educate faculty about prohibited discrimination and related UO policy by requiring non-discrimination training every two years (Article 14).
    • UA has presented 32 of its 38 proposals.
      • Proposals so far include changes to 23 articles and the introduction of nine new articles.
      • As shared previously, the breadth and scope of UA proposals is substantial and would impact and, in some instances, define roles and responsibilities for department heads, principal investigators, the University Senate, and athletics.
      • UA proposals are available at http://uauoregon.org/2020proposals/.

The university’s bargaining team will continue its diligent work to:

    • Maintain the university’s bargaining principles—including respecting the roles of the parties at the table as well as the roles of other campus stakeholders, units, and employee groups;
    • Remain good stewards of student tuition and taxpayer dollars; and
    • Make proposals consistent with the reality of the university’s current and future economic situation.

Weekly bargaining is expected to continue every Thursday through the winter and spring terms. We look forward to positive collaboration with the UA bargaining team. You can keep track of the negotiation process by reviewing the information and updates posted on the UA bargaining webpage on the Human Resources website.

Shortly, I will send a similar email to department heads and other unrepresented faculty to keep them informed. I will continue to provide regular bargaining updates, so you are informed and aware of the key components of the negotiations and so that you can provide feedback to our team throughout this process. Your assistance and support in this effort are greatly appreciated.

Should you have any questions or concerns throughout the negotiations process, please visit the bargaining update webpage or contact me by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.

Best regards,

Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations

The university greatly values the mission-critical work our faculty contribute in support of our academic and research pursuits. We will bargain in good faith and in accordance with our bargaining principles to identify shared interests and establish a collective bargaining agreement that serves both the university and its faculty. [sic]

MMXX-VI bargaining: Some crap CBA articles no one really cares about

That’s the rumor from the faculty club last night. Today’s Faculty Union proposals will include Release Time, Training, and Union Rights. I have no idea what the Administration will bring to the table, they like to surprise us.

Should be plenty of space to spread your work out. Free UO Matters coffee cup to whoever gets the most grading done between 12-3PM today in 125 Chiles. My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. No live-blogging today, try the official Union tweets or Facebook, or wait for the Union’s synopsis Monday.

In other news the state is flush with cash, because our economists underestimated income tax collections again, and death tax collections have soared. Not because the olds are dying at an unexpected rate, but because they now have all the money – until suddenly they don’t and the state finally gets its cut of the wealth they have accumulated because they were lucky enough to be born in a country where the government protects property rights and commerce, winks at anti-trust laws, makes it easy to trade campaign donations for special favors, and pays for their medicare with a regressive tax on workers.

Get your tickets to Hamilton here, page down for the data from the latest Oregon State Economist’ revenue report:


MMXX-V Union bargaining: Tenure appeals & tighter sabbatical rules.

My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook.

MMXX-V Live-blog. Usual disclaimer: My opinion and interpretation of what the bargainers are saying, thinking, or should be saying or thinking. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

Short Version: The Faculty Union pushed again for more reasonable tenure denial appeals. The Administration proposed new restrictions on sabbaticals for faculty. Those restrictions would not apply to administrators like Pres Schill, who often have far more generous sabbatical terms written into their contracts.

Faculty Union team shows up early and arranges classroom for bargaining, whilst Admin team moseys on over from their plush JH offices:

Faculty Union proposal on Appeal from the denial of tenure or promotion, Article 21:

Cecil: Lots of problems with how the university handles a few tenure cases. Union wants to strengthen the review process.

Matella: There aren’t any problems.

Cecil: Here are some examples … Epstein: Here’s another example. Green: Here’s another example.

Matella: OK, OK, we need more work on the front end of the process. But Admin is not willing to improve the appeals process. Green: This is people’s careers, why not better appeal process? Urbancic: Why not strengthen both the front end – more consistent application of criteria – and the appeals? Matella: No response.

Cecil: Moving on, we insist on language saying midterm (3rd year) reviews are purely advisory – no more terminal or 2-year contracts. Give faculty 6 years, then deny tenure if they haven’t shown their worth. And, for denial of tenure appeals, the Provost must actually give a written explanation to the candidate detailing the department’s criteria and explaining how they fell short.

Matella: Why does the union insist on a real appeals process instead of one that simply allows the Provost to reiterate their own previous decision without explanation? Cecil: Read Danny Kahneman’s book. It’s one of those irrational but consistent human biases. [Fact check request: Anyone know how replicable this one is?]

Matella: After PTRAC, appeals go to President or President’s designee? Cecil: Our concern is that the final tenure decision might be made by someone like Angela Wilhelms, rather than someone with academic experience like Mike Schill. On the other hand, we can imagine a situation were the President might be, say, a former shoe company CEO with no academic experience.

Admin Counter-Proposal: Union Rights, Article 9:

The Union thinks the Administration should share a list of faculty by September 1, so they can organize them. The Administration doesn’t want to do this until whenever they get around to updating their database:

Admin Counter on Sabbatical, Article 33:

Matella: We’ve made some changes. “Faculty with an agreement to retire are not eligible for sabbatical.” Faculty owe UO a year of service at regular FTE after sabbatical. [This is a huge change in past practice. Faculty – and administrators with faculty appointments – have been able to sign up for the TRP, get the 6% raise, take a sabbatical, then come back and either teach their last year pre-TRP, or teach at less than 1.0 FTE under the TRP. See, for example, Jim Bean: http://uomatters.com/2012/04/false-statements-about-bean-sabbatical.html]

Interestingly, while President Schill enjoys describing himself as a member of the faculty, when it comes to sabbatical and faculty duties, he’s convinced the Board to treat him just a bit differently:

So, after 6 years, he gets 12 months at full pay. Regular faculty get 9 months at 60% pay. And no need to say what he’ll do or what he’s done. But wait, there’s more:

Admin counterproposal for regular faculty:

Other topics:

2:25: As Cecil tries to wrap things up early, Vice President Matella does her best to drag out this session until the official end time of 3PM, to collect another 0.5 billable hours.[Just kidding, the above sentence contains at least 4 things that are not true.]

2:38: We’re done. See you next week.

Admin’s plan to weaken tenure – Faculty Union on bargaining MMXX-IV

Chuck Lillis and his Board of Trustees’ magic tonic for all that ails UO – get rid of tenure.

In a nutshell, the Administration wants to be able to reduce the FTE of tenured faculty to as little as 0.2 FTE, if their department head decides they’d been warned and failed to improve. The Union is OK with reducing the research FTE for deadwood, but wants it made up with more teaching or administrative work. Complete UAUO post here, with much more, including a proposal allowing UO to offer “indefinite appointment” – i.e. tenure – to Career/NTTF teaching faculty, after a long and rigorous review. The short version:

Executive Summary

The administration bargaining team proposed that tenured faculty could have their FTE reduced to 0.6, 0.4, or 0.2 FTE after an unsuccessful third-year post-tenure review. They also proposed to define the “review period” for promotion reviews be the last six years only.

The United Academics bargaining team proposed a new “Teaching Professor” position. Senior II Instructors and Lecturers can ask for an intensive teaching review that would assess teaching skill and pedagogical philosophy. Successful candidates would have an indefinite appointment.

We also proposed that Career faculty FTE could only be lowered by a maximum of 0.2 FTE (based on the prior year) upon renewal and that FTE had to be the same through all years of a contract.

The Union will respond to the Administration’s proposal for a de facto end to tenure this Th, 12-3 in 125 Chiles.


Matella updates Admins on Admin view of bargaining progress

**Sent on behalf of Missy Matella**

Dear Colleagues,

The University of Oregon [The Administration] and United Academics (UA) [The Faculty Union] began bargaining a new collective bargaining agreement on January 9 with the first several sessions focused on UA’s proposals. After three sessions, UA has proposed changes to 16 existing articles and introduced nine new articles with more proposals to come in the weeks ahead. The costs associated with their proposals appear to be significant:

·         By its own estimation, UA’s opening economic proposals will cost an additional $40 million over the term of a three-year contract. Proposals include changes to salary, benefits, child care support, parental leave, professional development, student support, and parking.

·         Our costing committee is currently analyzing the proposals. We expect to have more information about the economic impact of all UA proposals toward mid-February.

UA’s proposals would have substantial economic and operational impact on academic and non-academic units and on other university stakeholders.

·         The articles presented by UA to date would impact and, in some instances, define roles and responsibilities for department heads, principal investigators, the Senate, and athletics.

·         The university’s bargaining team will diligently work to maintain the bargaining principles it previously articulated—including respecting the roles of the parties at the table as well as the roles of other campus stakeholders, units, and employee groups.

The university’s bargaining team will continue to provide new proposals through the end of February. Our proposals will reflect our responsibility to:

·         remain good stewards of student tuition and taxpayer dollars, and

·         make proposals consistent with the reality of the university’s current and future economic situation.

Weekly bargaining is expected to continue every Thursday through the winter and spring terms. We look forward to positive collaboration with the UA bargaining team in our efforts to identify shared interests and reach agreement on a contract that serves both the university and our faculty. You can keep track of the negotiation process by reviewing the information and updates posted on the UA bargaining webpage on the Human Resources website.

Shortly, I will send a similar email to department heads and other unrepresented faculty to keep them informed. I will continue to provide regular bargaining updates so you are informed and aware of the key components of the negotiations and so that you can provide feedback to our team throughout this process. Your assistance and support in this effort are greatly appreciated.

Should you have any questions or concerns throughout the negotiations process, please visit the bargaining update webpage or contact me by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.

Best regards,

Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations

MMXX-IV bargaining live-blog: 125 Chiles, 12-3pm today

My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook.

MMXX-IV Live-blog. Usual disclaimer: My opinion and interpretation of what the bargainers are saying, thinking, or should be saying or thinking. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

The Union has helpfully posted today’s proposals at http://uauoregon.org/13020proposals/ The admin is passing out dead-tree versions of theirs. Annoying, but I understand we’ve got a few trustees with timber holdings. Other than that I have no complaints about the admin team, as of yet.

Start with admin proposals:

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