University agrees to raise salaries to comparators, signs contract with faculty union

9/17/2013: More on the EWU plan, from Colleen Flaherty at EWU

The 2010 Coltrane/Lariviere plan would have got UO salary averages by discipline and rank to the levels of comparators by fall 2013. So it was the same as the EWU plan, but allowing merit differentials within departments. Gottfredson was never interested, and Coltrane has now abandoned this goal, while increasing the Jock Box subsidy to $2.3M. Instead as being known as the leader on this, UO and Gottfredson are now nationally known for trying to limit free speech and academic freedom.

From the story:

But at least one university has stepped outside the box in its approach to equity in professor pay, aiming to bring all faculty salaries up to current market rates for their ranks and discipline, with some getting big percentage raises, and others less. And those involved in contract negotiations at Eastern Washington University say they’d be surprised if other universities didn’t take note.

The plan is the product of long-term planning among the Faculty Organization (the faculty senate equivalent) , the faculty union, and the administration. Samuel Ligon, professor of creative writing and Faculty Organization president, said no faculty member will get unexpectedly rich off of the contract, as it only seeks to bring faculty pay up to the market rate — something most faculty have been below for years. (Median faculty pay is 10 to 20 percent below the national average for rank and discipline at peer institutions. Full professors are most likely to be paid below market rate.)

But the policy communicates in a very clear way the university’s commitment to longtime faculty, Ligon said – something that he and administrators hope will help reinvigorate the university’s curriculum redesign, and other aspects of university life.
“The administration felt that improving faculty quality, and ensuring that those faculty would not leave the university, needed to be the main focus of a new faculty contract.”

9/15/2013: Of course I’m not talking about UO and President Gottfredson.

Sent as an open letter to the UO faculty heads, prior to tomorrow’s retreat:

Dear All –  

Please excuse this mass email, which is from me as a faculty member, and has not been seen by, approved by, or discussed with the UO faculty union bargaining team or any of its members or staff. 

Many of you have read Sunday’s Op-Ed from Provost Coltrane in the RG today, at Among other things, Scott says: 

“The university also understands that its commitment to academic and research excellence must go beyond our sports infrastructure. We understand that we must compete in the primary arena of faculty compensation. … The UO’s latest offer would give tenured and tenure-track faculty an average 11.9 percent salary increase and non-tenure track faculty an average 12.4 percent increase. This represents an additional $23.6 million in salaries and benefits for members of the bargaining unit over the life of the contract, and $28.8 million if extended to all faculty.”

I know that at Monday’s head’s retreat VPAA’s Barbara Altmann and Doug Blandy will give their take on the bargaining so far, presumably including an update on UO’s raise proposals.  

Given this, I thought you might be interested in the story below from today’s Chronicle of Higher Ed, about how Eastern Washington University has handled their faculty salary negotiations. They agreed a few weeks ago to bring their faculty to their averages of their own comparator universities, by rank and discipline, within 3 years. 

Their President argues for this on the basis of increasing faculty retention and raising his university’s profile. Though you can criticize the EWU deal as not including enough merit differentials, note that the UO administration’s latest proposal only includes 5.5% for merit, spread out over 3 years. 

Last year UO lost more ground relative to our AAU public comparators:

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

The UO administration’s current salary proposal seems unlikely to do much more than keep up with salary growth at those comparators, and more likely will lead to us falling still farther behind.

This contract is at Eastern Washington University, apparently agreed to a few weeks ago. It’s the plan Lariviere and Coltrane were going to implement at UO by 2014, although without the merit adjustments. Here at UO, President Gottfredson rejected the faculty union’s similar proposal back in March (also with merit differences), and interim Provost Scott Coltrane has just put his name to that rejection, in this RG Op-Ed.

This is rather amazing news, for those following the UO union negotiations.
In the Chronicle of Higher Ed, 9/15/2013:

A new contract for faculty members at Eastern Washington University is being hailed by professors and administrators as a novel way to deal with salary inequities, because the agreement raises professors’ pay based on market rates. The agreement adjusts pay based on the mean salaries identified in survey data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. Eastern Washington’s president, Rodolfo Arévalo, told the Associated Press that the university had been offering professors below-market pay for years, and had been losing faculty members to institutions elsewhere in Washington and in other states. He said he hopes the three-year agreement will fix such salary inequities and raise the university’s profile.

From the EWU contract:

In three years, all EWU Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Assistant, Associate and Full Professors will be paid at least their CUPA mean based on rank and discipline. Salary is determined by a CUPA-mean data base from 2011-2012 cross-referenced by a faculty person’s discipline and faculty status. An annual acrossthe-board adjustment is included on top of the CUPA-mean salary as a COLA adjustment.  

Year 1: Faculty with salaries below 90% of market (defined herein as 2011-12 CUPA mean) will be brought to the 90% level. No market-based increase will exceed $18,000 within a single year. An additional 2% (based on the new 90%-of-market salary) will be added to the 90%-of-market salary. This 2% will be referred to as the “Year 1 ATB.”Faculty whose salaries are at or above 90% and below 110% of market will receive an additional 2% of their current salary. Faculty with salaries at more than 110% of market but not more than 115% of the CUPA mean for their discipline will receive 1% of their current salary. Faculty who are currently compensated at more than 115% of the CUPA mean for their discipline are not eligible for the across-the-board increases. 

Year 2: Faculty with salaries below 95% of market will be brought to the 95% level. No market-based increase will exceed $18,000 in a single year. An additional 2% (based on the new 95%-of-market salary and referred to as “Year 2 ATB”) and the Year 1 ATB will be added to the 95%-of-market salary. Faculty whose salaries are at or above 95% and below 110% of market will receive an additional 2% of their current salary. Faculty with salaries at more than 110% of market but not more than 115% of the CUPA mean for their discipline will receive 1% of their current salary.
Faculty who are currently compensated at more than 115% of the CUPA mean for their discipline are not eligible for the across-the-board increases. 

Year 3: Faculty with salaries below 100% of market will be brought to the 100% level. No market-based increase will exceed $18,000 within a single year. An additional 2% (based on the new 100%-of-market salary and referred to as “Year 3 ATB”) and the Year 1 ATB and the Year 2 ATB will be added to the 100%-of-market salary. 

Thanks to an alert reader for forwarding the EWU story. 

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43 Responses to University agrees to raise salaries to comparators, signs contract with faculty union

  1. Anonymous says:

    So why can’t UO do this?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t the deadwood make out the best with this plan?

    • UO Matters says:

      Like bandits. The UO union proposal includes merit differentials.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is precisely what many upper administrators would like you to believe. In the administration’s misguided view, the UO faculty consists of 90% deadwood and 10% high achievers. In my experience as a full professor with a distinguished record of achievement and over twenty years at UO, the reverse is closer to the truth: deadwood exists at every research institution, but is generally in the minority. The vast majority of my senior colleagues are respected, hard-working scholars in their areas of specialization; and yet, for most of us who have made careers here, the administration’s refusal to pay a competitive wage to academic faculty while they insist on overpaying themselves to the tune of 110% of market value is beyond insulting–it is morally reprehensible.

      It is to the credit of President Lariviere that he recognized, as does President Arévalo at Eastern Washington, that such salary inequities are an enormous morale killer and will ultimately make the entire institution ripe for massive brain drain. Not so very long ago, Dean Coltrane also recognized this. Perhaps our best hope is that Provost Coltrane still has the faculty’s best interests at heart and is patiently working behind the scenes to move President Gottfredson in the right direction. If significant progress is not made on salary issues as part of the current CBA, I fully support the union’s right to strike until an equitable agreement can be reached.

    • Anonymous says:

      It doesn’t matter what the administration would like me to believe-I’m here and see it with my own eyes. The fact is there are enormous differences in workload and salary plans like this that are skewed towards the bottom make zero sense to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon two up is so right. Gottfredson has very little respect for faculty and has said in different contexts that he is absolutely not going to give to deadwood. Apparently, he believes in this so much that he is willing to jeopardize losing the other 90 percent by not paying them their due.

    • Anonymous says:

      Gottfredson “has said in different contexts that he is absolutely not going to give to deadwood”

      I call BS. Please provide a link to support your statement.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yea right. You should have already picked up that MG doesn’t put anything in writing.

    • Anonymous says:

      As I suspected, you’re just spreading rumors and BS. I’ve definitely “picked up” that there’s a lot of that on this site.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Equity” raises still haven’t been defined adequately, at least to me. The EWU raises that are skewed towards the bottom sound like equity raises. They’re basically the opposite of merit raises.

    • UO Matters says:

      Gottfredson could have told the union he wanted more money for merit. His first proposal had just 2% for merit in 2014.

      The union came back with 6% over two years. He cut it to 5.5% He also cut the amount of money going to “equity” which as defined could be used to *increase* relative pay differentials across departments with different rankings, from 4% to 1.5%.

      Hard to say the man has any consistent beliefs about faculty pay.

      Data here:

  3. Anonymous says:

    So when is Nathan’s no-confidence motion coming up for a vote?

  4. Anonymous says:

    The fundamental question for the administration:

    How can you justify paying administrators market rate, but not faculty?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can’t make any sense of this without including the full picture, especially retirement benefits.

    The Oregonian has written repeatedly about how much better Oregon retirement benefits are than Washington.

    Does Washington “pickup” a 6% employee contribution, like Oregon?

    Does Washington have anything like Tier 1 benefits for any professors? e.g. does Washington have an optional retirement plan? If so, does Washington pay 22.5% into a Tier 1 professor’s ORP plan, as Oregon does this biennium?

    If one doesn’t include these kinds of considerations, a comparison with the state of Washington or EWU or Tennessee or anyone is simply ludicrous.

    • UO Matters says:

      So, do some work and post what you learn, with links. Or just keep speculating.

  6. Anonymous says:

    OK, I’ll tell you. Washington doesn’t do the pickup. Washington has nothing remotely like Tier 1. Your comparisons of salaries alone are shoddy and incompetent.

    Even the salary comparisons are obviously flawed in that they don’t into account the delayed raises for this year, owing to the ongoing negotiations. Nobody in their right mind could take you seriously.

    • UO Matters says:

      Your comments are defamatory, and that’s always fun.

    • Anonymous says:

      That statement was not defamatory. You had best learn what is and isn’t defamatory considering the things you write on this blog.

    • UO Matters says:

      I’m game – please compile a list of my defamatory statements, with links, quotes, and your explanation of how they are defamatory. Take your time and get this right, and I’ll post it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    There are a lot of people that take UO Matters seriously and that is the main thing that the new UO Administration has not realized. Ignoring, obfuscating, stonewalling, and/or bad mouthing criticism is never a path to success. Deal with it head on.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The entire tier1 argument is a canard. Most (or soon to be most!) of the professors are tier 3, and so the argument that our benefits are generous is comparison to other universities doesn’t wash. One could argue that the unusually generous retirement benefits provided to tier 1 folks does bump up the average compensation for full professors (most of which at tier 1), and perhaps this should be taken into account.

    When it comes to equity, the discrepancy between tier 1 and tier 3 most certainly should be taken into account. The union should provide a formula for total compensation based on gross pay and retirement category, and the university should provide data as to whom is in which category, so that committees responsible for doling out equity raises have a standardized “compensation” value for each faculty member.

    • UO Matters says:

      I think this is a solid argument for the committee considering this. However, keep in mind that many full professors at our comparators are also grandfathered in to some generous retirement plans, so the *external* comparisons for fulls are probably not that far off.

    • Anonymous says:

      Regardless of its value as a tool to assess our deficit with regards to market averages, a total compensation formula needs to be devised within seconds of a contract agreement, lest I fear that all equity money (in my department at least) go to full professors sitting on a fortune in their retirement accounts, while I still have to spend 10% of my gross pay to guarantee a healthy retirement.

    • Anonymous says:

      So much nonsense here, in my opinion. “Most” of the professors are not Tier 3 — that didn’t even exist until 2003. The largest group of professors almost undoubtedly still Tier 1 i.e. those hired before around 1995.

      And UOMatters is just not on the mark in saying “many full professors at our comparators are also grandfathered in to some generous retirement plans” — do they commonly (or even ever) have anything like Tier 1 benefits — show me a public university where there is a deal like either Tier 1 PERS or Tier 1 ORP.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are forgetting (or ignoring) that the university has grown a great deal since “around 1995” and certainly significantly since 2003. In my department the associate and assistant professors outnumber the full professors, and most of the associate and all of the assistant professors are tier 3. Tier 1 folks retire and they are replaced with tier 3, so while tier 1 may outnumber tier 3 now, it doesn’t by much, and it certainly won’t for long.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, in my department, among TTF, the Tier 1 = Tier 2 + Tier 3 in number. The ratio is about 3:1:2. So Tier 1 are still half, Tier 3 a third. Remember, Tier 2 is a great deal, at least for ORP if not for PERS people.

      It is quite correct that eventually, the Tier 1 (and Tier 2) people will fade away. But that is going to be a long time. That, in fact, is part of the reason there’s so much agitation in the state of Oregon to cut back PERS.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The EWU attempt to rectify salary problems is an apt comparison for what could be done, and the overall point is still an excellent one.
    First of all–many of us are NOT Tier 1–but Tier 3 (hired after August 2003). And we are the lowest paid compared to our “comparators”–and the UO is not even trying to fix this as Scott Coltrane knows VERY WELL. The offer by the administration is insulting to many of us. They have the resources to take us closer to the “average” and they are not making a serious effort to do so.
    We should not take the University administration seriously with this offer.
    It is simply blatantly corrupt that they do not reveal their actual budget numbers at a public University when they are telling us “the well is dry”–what nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even the Tier 3 faculty get the 6% pickup, which is a very unusual benefit at public universities. Think about having 6% taken out of your salary each month and you may appreciate more than you do now.

      Include that and add it to ~92-93% (after the delayed round of salary increases goes into effect)and the assistant and associate profs are within a hairsbreadth of where their counterparts among our comparators are. And then factor in that ALL of our “comparators” rank more highly than UO in measures of academic standing — with places like UVa and Michigan being totally out of our league — “even” UCSB and Colorado are bedecked with multiple Nobel prize winners — and things don’t look so bad here, at least on average.

    • Anonymous says:

      The retirement situation with other universities is varied and probably impossible to model. However the suggestion that we add 6% to our salaries and nothing to our comparators for retirement likely produces a worse approximation to the truth than adding nothing to everyone.

    • Anonymous says:

      You seem to be assuming that some of our comparators have a feature like the “pickup.” It is possible but I think it’s unlikely. My understanding — from the Oregonian — is that only four states have the Oregon “pickup” system.

      I disagree that adding 6% to our salaries alone is more inaccurate than adding 0% to our salaries, in view of the pickup. The pickup is real and universal at OUS schools; it is, as I say, very unusual at other public universities, as far as I can tell.

      The ones who really have, or should have, this information are the professional bargainers (on both sides of the table).

      I am told — by someone who was involved with this at one time — that comparisons with our comparators using AAUP data showed that just using salary data greatly underestimated the comparison of our total compensation — because of the superior benefits in Oregon — I can only understand this in terms of the retirement benefits here, including the “pickup” for all faculty, Tiers 1, 2, and 3.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not this again. There was a whole thread on this 2 weeks ago. The data are out there. Our salaries are low. Retirement benefits are common.
      Here is 1 table from an AAUP (note not AAU, but Am. Assoc. Univ. Prof.) 2012-2013 survey. Note average 10% retirement benefits for public schools.
      This is by Institutional category. We are category I (PhD)
      And, link to all tables.

    • Anonymous says:

      UW’s tenure reduction program is far better than UO’s:

    • Anonymous says:

      Great, a better tenure reduction program is just what UO needs to move ahead.

  10. Awesome0 says:

    Apart from the debate on whether the benefits are that much better here (they certainly aren’t for newbies or most associate profs).

    Shouldn’t we also discount retirement benefits because

    1. We don’t know if the benefits will really be there when we retire
    2. We don’t know if we will actually be alive or in good health to enjoy those benefits
    3. Even if we do get those benefits, they are in the future, and money now is worth more to us than than money in the future.

    Or at least I learned something like that in an economics class a long time ago.
    For those who would disagree with the above, I have something to sell you..

  11. Anonymous says:

    1) Oregon PERS is one of the best-funded retirement systems in the country. (See, e.g. the Pew study of all 50 states from 2012.) Public university employees in a lot of other states are going to be very disappointed when it comes time to collect. Whatever the uncertainties of PERS in Oregon, they are generally greater elsewhere.

    If one doesn’t trust Oregon PERS, however, join the optional plan and the money is all yours to manage and own.

    2) True of all aspects of the future. That does not mean that most people would rather not plan for retirement. (And your spouse and/or designated descendants or others will get the money if you kick off too early to enjoy it.)

    3) That is why the money put aside for retirement draws investment gains. By your reasoning by itself, nobody would ever save or invest.

    I can almost guarantee, even if you wish you could get your hands on your pension fund now, when you’re older, you’ll be very glad you weren’t able to.

    One last point about the benefits for newer people — they are indeed less than for the Tier 1 people, which is one rationale for the huge salary disparity of the full professors — but don’t ever forget the 6% pickup. You won’t find many states that have that. If you were having that 6% taken out of your salary each month, you would know the value of the pickup.

    • Awesome0 says:

      My point is that retirement benefits are not value at a 1 to 1 ratio with salary, which most people who are making the argument that retirement benefits should be included with salary at the same value. That’s inclusion only makes sense for those who would be indifferent between that level of retirement and money. For those who would prefer the money to do as they saw fit, be it invest and save, consume it, or pay down debt, retirement benefits are overvalued. What would the outcome be of a survey that offered people a 6 percent raise, or the pick-up? It’d probably be a mix. I know the pickup has value because I have sibling who doesn’t get it, but their salary is also 40 percent higher so I don’t see them crying too much.

      I agree we invest because we want a return. But now in addition to market uncertainty, we also have uncertainty about whether the state will be true to their word, which decrease the current value of future benefits, because they are less certain.

      And many other schools offer better tuition discounts for kids. Are we going to include those in our comparisons? That’s why the whole benefits comparison gets murky quick. What about parking costs? Gym costs? I think we should compare all of these things to our comparison schools. Seems like the type of thing an RA could do in a couple of weeks.

      Instead we are left so speculate.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sure, if your salary is 40% higher, that’s worth a lot more than the 6% pickup. That’s why it’s important to add everything up and see how things compare.

    At some point, you just have to accept or reject the salary/benefit structure of an institution, public or private. But, I can tell you this: when I was younger, I wished the retirement benefits at UO were less and the salary higher. Because I “needed” the dough. I really did! But somehow survived, and now I’m glad the retirement benefits were high, especially with all the frightening financial developments of the past 10 years.

    Trying to add up the value of all the benefits at all universities is a major task, with exact results impossible, and diminishing returns. (What if I don’t use the gym? What if I walk to work? What if my kids are so brilliant that they don’t want to waste their time going to college, so tuition benefits are meaningless to me? etc. etc.) The University certainly has people who are paid to do this, or should.

    The UO senate budget committee used to present the results of these analyses in relation to the eight OUS comparators. If they still do, it’s not publicized very widely. Perhaps the union-administration negotiation structure has displaced that.