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.)
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: