Is the faculty union preventing faculty raises?


Sharon Rudnick, Doug Blandy, and Tim Gleason repeatedly claimed this during the contract negotiations, as did many other UO administrators. The union team called them out on it every time. After the contract was signed these claims persisted, despite clear contract language to the contrary. So the union sent the provosts and deans a letter explaining that the union raises were lower bounds, and that UAUO had no objections to the administration giving faculty additional raises for retention, internal equity, external equity, merit, or any other reason. Apparently the administration is still confused on this point – or at least some administrators are still purporting to be confused. Many UO departments still have average wages far below comparators. The union negotiated for money to fix this, but were told no. And it is still not the union that is the obstacle to fixing this problem.

(Meanwhile the administration will reportedly implement the 2nd 1.5% ATB raise and the 2% merit in the January paycheck, along with a lump-sum for the retroactive amounts. No word yet on what interest rate they’ll pay the faculty for being late on this. See here for some rough math on how much you’ll get. Or try Tim Gleason’s $218K contract implementation blog, here. On second thought don’t, it’s useless.)

The union’s latest statement on “extra-contractual raises”, from an email sent to the faculty a few days ago:


Q. Does our new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) prohibit the administration from granting raises to individual faculty above the levels required in the agreement?

A. ABSOLUTELY NOT. There is no language in the CBA that prohibits the administration from offering raises above the levels required by the contract (e.g. in a retention effort when the UO grants a raise to a faculty member who has received an outside offer). As long as such raises do not diminish the contractually guaranteed pools allotted for equity and merit raises, are disclosed to United Academics, and are implemented through a transparent and fair process, the Administration retains the authority to grant such raises at its discretion.

If you have been incorrectly told by an administrator or unit head that they are prevented from granting such extra-contractual raises because of the CBA or the union, please contact United Academics immediately at 541 636 4714 or

Q. Does our CBA place a new restriction on faculty leave, engagement, or reporting responsibilities between fall and winter terms?

A. ABSOLUTELY NOT. The new CBA does formalize a paid leave for most bargaining unit members for the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. But there are no new campus-wide policies regarding expectations for faculty engagement in research, service and teaching between fall and winter terms that supersede existing practices and expectations within units. As in the past, bargaining unit members should consult with their respective unit heads or supervisors if they have questions about their expected engagement during this period.

A memo sent by the Office of the General Counsel to department heads and some faculty during the week of December 11 inaccurately implied that the CBA instituted new campus-wide changes to such policies. The CBA does not institute such changes, and it does not grant the General Counsel the authority to dictate such policy to individual units.

If you have been incorrectly told that the CBA has mandated a new campus wide change to faculty reporting and engagement responsibilities between fall and winter terms, please contact United Academics immediately at 541 636-4714 or

Q. The UO has made a mistake in the amount of money deducted from my November paycheck for United Academic dues or fair share fees. What should I do?

Our new CBA stipulates that the UO is responsible for administering the required payroll deductions (1.1% of gross pay, as voted by United Academic members). For members of United Academics, the amount is deducted as dues. For those who have not yet elected to join United Academics but are still covered by the CBA and represented fully by the union, the same amount is deducted as fair share fees, as provided by state law.

Bargaining unit members pay dues or fair share fees only when they are actively employed by the UO and receiving a paycheck (e.g. no dues or fees are deducted during the summer months for faculty on a 9-month contract and not teaching summer school).

Dues and fair share fee deductions from November paychecks included both the standard November deduction as well as a pro-rated portion for October, since the CBA was ratified and went into effect in mid-October. (Our raises were similarly pro-rated).

If the UO has made an error in calculating and deducting your fair share or dues amounts, please contact UO Human Resources at 541 346-2964. The union’s contract implementation team has received a commitment from the Administration that the errors they have made will be rectified quickly.

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20 Responses to Is the faculty union preventing faculty raises?

  1. Confused says:

    I’m quite confused….why would anybody think they deserve a “raise” beyond what was contracted for? Please talk to you negotiating team if you are not satisfied with the deal they cut on your behalf.

    • Canard says:

      All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

    • ScienceDuck says:

      I thought the union allowed additional raises? If a PI wants to give a post-doc a raise, can they?

      • uomatters says:


        • ScienceDuck says:

          Not sure what confused is talking about. Or Phred. Would love to hear some clarifications. Is Phred’s case about a PI wanting to raise a postdocs salary to NIH minimums, or of a postdoc wanting NIH minimums without PI approval? If the second, then confused’s post makes sense, otherwise just seems confused.

  2. uomatters says:

    The science PI’s get 11.5% raises, and don’t have to pay dues. Why are they angry at the union? A much bigger problem is Shelton’s new rule requiring grants pay tuition for RA’s.

    • dog says:

      Its fine to have grants pay tuition for GTF RAs as long as the line item has been funded by the granting agency. Then its just money in vs money out.

      A problem arises when one is trying to fund advanced graduate students – those that have advanced to candidacy and no longer
      need to take classes. At many research Universities, grad students in this class no longer have to pay tuition, or they pay minimal tuition. Here at the UO they pay maximum tuition
      which taxes our grants even more as there is a zero sum game,
      in many cases, between GTF tuition and GTF stipends.

      Moreover, some agencies view tuition or tuition waivers as tbe responsibility (cost share) of the institution.

      • UODuck says:

        Science labs have it hard here because of the cost of personnel. Labs are made up of grad students, RAs and post-docs. For grad students we pay full tuition all years. For postdocs and RAs we pay OPE at 65-75% of salary. At other institutions grad students frequently pay minimal tuition once advanced, and post-doc benefits cost 20% of salary. So the end effect is that our grants can support 3 people instead of 4, so we can’t be as productive per grant or propose as much as others, which makes it that much harder to be funded.

        • dog says:

          numbers actually help

          Full Time Grad Support here at current tuition levels and overhead rates would be about 57K per year at the UO

          And say you wanted to pay a Post Doc 50K a year then you
          would need 50K + .6*50 = 80K and then, 48% overhead on

          So 1 postdoc plus one grad student would require about 180K
          of grant money.

          Instead, if advanced Grad students didn’t pay tuition and
          Postdocs were taxed at 20% then the price tag would go down to

          125–130 K

          or about 30% less than our current model allows for

          in this age of reduced federal support and reduced PI sucess in obtaining federal grants, this 30% is significant.

    • Oryx says:

      1. I never said “angry,” just very confused, frustrated, and disappointed. There’s a big difference.
      2. I don’t understand your tuition comment. Aren’t we already paying grad student RA tuition from our grants? Who else would pay it? Let me know, I’d love to save my grant $15k per student.

  3. Starbuck says:

    I am game for his crooked jaw, and for the jaws of Death too, Captain Ahab, if it fairly comes in the way of the business we follow; but I came here to hunt whales, not my commander’s vengeance. How many barrels will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain Ahab? it will not fetch thee much in our Nantucket market.

  4. uomatters says:

    Post some details and links please. This sounds like an administration decision. The union contract provides significant raises to post-docs and nothing in the contract prevents UO from giving additional raises.

    • Phred says:

      There are no links to be had because this has all been discussions between the three affected parties (PI, post-doc, union) but my understanding is that it is a union issue not an admin issue. In fact, it is quite similar to what GTFFs went through in recent years if they received outside funding that was in excess of the GTFF union approved stipend.

      • ScienceDuck says:

        Is the postdoc paid by fellowship? I know several postdocs on fellowship that are paid the fellowship level.

        • Phred says:

          I think in this case it is a post-doc on a grant (not a fellowship) and the PI wants to pay at the NIH recommended level but the union is objecting to that.

  5. Phred says:

    Post-docs in the union have a hell of a time getting their NIH suggested stipends that are in excess of the union mandated minimums. So, I have to say yes the union is screwing people.

    • duckduckduck says:

      Are these post-docs on fellowship from the NIH, or paid from grant and non-grant funds? Fellows aren’t even in the union, are they? And for non-fellows they are just suggestions… so it is hard to generally get raises for these post-docs? What are the rules for when and how they get raises?

      • Oryx says:

        Yes, postdocs paid by fellowships are in the union bargaining unit. No, this doesn’t make any sense. How many times does it have to be pointed out that the absurdity of this, that many faculty are out of the “faculty union” but postdocs (temporary at the UO, and generally not paid by UO) are in the union is a big reason that science faculty feel like banging their heads against the nearest wall whenever the union is mentioned?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Randy Geller. How many handlers can one General Counsel have?

    • uomatters says:

      Makes me wonder what other emails Randy has sent out to the administration about contract implementation, that didn’t happen to get leaked.

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