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United Academics President Michael Dreiling’s email on the faculty contract

Here’s the email Dreiling sent out today, summarizing what the union got for the faculty, and what we didn’t get. I think this is a very good contract, and shows that President Schill and the faculty union can work together to make UO better. I particularly like this part of Dreiling’s email:

We heard from a wide range of faculty about bargaining strategies. There were many different opinions about how and when to conclude negotiations. The UA leadership found there were a number of compelling reasons to avoid the continuation of negotiations into the fall term. The university has a new president who needs to build momentum for raising resources that serve the academic mission of our university. We need to keep our eye on that process. …

Full disclosure: As UAUO Treasurer I’m a member of the Exec Committee, but I was not on the bargaining team and did not help draft this letter, although I think it’s spot-on:

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that after nearly 7 months of negotiations United Academics and the University of Oregon have reached a tentative three-year agreement. Over the course of these negotiations, United Academics pressed the conversation on fiscal priorities at the University of Oregon, standing by the principal that investing in faculty is investing in our academic mission.

The UO administration initially proposed a raise to faculty of only 1% over two years (with an additional one-time payment of $600). With considerable effort and after countless hours, we were able to move these numbers in a more favorable direction. While some may hasten to point out shortcomings of the agreement (and I am not shy about indicating some of these below), it is a solid contract that establishes five consecutive years of salary increases for all faculty at the UO (those represented by UA and those not) as well as major improvements in job stability for all NTTF.

Numerous gains are layered throughout our tentative contract, some of which are highlighted below. A more complete summary of the contract will be available in the weeks ahead. As soon as the two teams complete copy-edits, the tentative contract will be made available online for your review before a General Membership Meeting at which UA members will cast an up or down ratification vote. Stay tuned for those details.

Before presenting a quick summary of the contract, I want to thank the hundreds of faculty who participated in various ways to mobilize and support our union during the summer months. Your involvement made an enormous difference! Last week, about 100 of you attended our marathon bargaining sessions. In the end, our combined efforts persuaded the UO to accept an agreement will provide average raises of 8% over 3 years, along with a $650 one-time payment (about $1,000,000 paid out to faculty), increases to promotion raises, significant increases to salary floors, and more.  Thank you to every faculty member who took some action to support the bargaining team over the last 7 months!  

Contract Highlights

The tentative contract:

  • Provides for salary stability (5 years straight, locked in 3 more after 2 good years) and new salary gains averaging 8% over the next three years. Salaries will take effect on January 1, 2016.
    • FY 2016: 2% COLA, $650 one-time payment prorated by FTE on November 30, 2015
    • FY 2017: 0.75% COLA, 2.25% merit pool
    • FY 2018: 0.75% COLA, 2.25% merit pool
  • Locks-in the minimum of 8% promotion raises for all TTF. After promotion to full professor, the faculty member whose first successful review “exceeds expectations” will get a minimum raise of 8%. A successful review that “meets expectations” is guaranteed a minimum of 4%. All subsequent six year reviews result in a minimum of 4%.   
  • Maintains promotion raises of  8% for NTTF.
  • Greatly increases contract stability for all NTTF (including funding contingent faculty) – NTTF who are promoted and are consistently meeting the standards of excellence can expect to have their 3-year contract renewed, with exceptions only for programmatic changes, budgetary limitations or the conversion of the position to a tenure-track position.
  • Significantly raises salary floors for all NTTF and Postdocs.
  • Brings the salary differential between Pro tem (adjunct) and Career NTTF closer to parity, from 80% to 90%.
  • Provides a separate 1% equity pool for librarians since the administration remains unwilling to remove “up or out”.
  • Improves faculty access to personnel records and files, including specific time limits for access and partial waivers of the copying costs of records.
  • Agrees on a Memorandum of Understanding to study all equity issues at the UO.
  • Tightens procedures for the Promotion, Tenure, Retention Appeals Committee (PTRAC).
  • Agrees to establish committees to assess a sick leave bank and a child-care subsidy.
  • Secures the current the 95% employer/5% employee contribution ratio for health-care premiums.
  • Simplifies the faculty policy development process.
  • Expands the ability of faculty to change department-level governance policies.

We fought for a number of additional benefits that the UO rejected, including increased sabbatical support and bridge-funding for research faculty. But our single most frustrating loss was in the area of equity. Beginning with our first economic proposal we argued that persistent inequities affect many faculty and departments at the UO. In our attempt to move the administration to include some kind of equity money, we presented an array of solutions, some large, some small, some targeting specific types of equity problems and some taking a multi-year, multi-pronged approach to a variety of internal and external salary inequities. It became clear that the university was not interested in monetarily addressing equity issues in this contract.  We did persuade them to work in concert with United Academics to document and propose solutions to equity issues facing faculty.

Our difficult choice

We heard from a wide range of faculty about bargaining strategies. There were many different opinions about how and when to conclude negotiations. The UA leadership found there were a number of compelling reasons to avoid the continuation of negotiations into the fall term. The university has a new president who needs to build momentum for raising resources that serve the academic mission of our university. We need to keep our eye on that process. By not dragging negotiations into the fall, we averted possible mediation and impasse, which could have had costly ramifications in our relations with the university administration. We look forward to discussing these choices in our Representative Assembly and membership meetings.  

What’s Ahead?

There is a lot of exciting work ahead. In recent weeks, I have received requests from faculty at the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota to visit their campuses and share our collective bargaining experiences. Academic Affairs is working with our union to develop a faculty mentoring program. United Academics will also be working with administration to set up the committees agreed upon to explore the feasibility of a sick leave bank and child care subsidies and collaborating on the salary equity studies.

As we celebrate the completion of our negotiations and prepare to vote on the contract, I hope you will consider supporting the classified staff in their ongoing effort to get a fair contract.  

Warm wishes, Michael Dreiling, President, United Academics

It’s too early to say President Schill has exorcised the demons from Johnson Hall, but the blatant hostility and contempt directed at UO’s faculty by many senior administrators seems to have lessened, and this contract and the way it was negotiated are yet more evidence of that.

And yes I’m saying that even though I’m still puzzled by the administration’s refusal to address the external equity issues at every step of the negotiations. The union’s first offer proposed a pool of money for external equity:

External Equity Raises – Tenure-Track and Tenured Classification

i. On July 1, 2015, the University will establish a pool for external equity raises for all faculty members in the Tenure-Track and Tenured classification equal to 1.5% of the total base salary paid to all faculty members employed in FY15 in the Tenure-Track and Tenured Professor and Acting Assistant Professor classifications.

The administration took it out. The union put it back in. The administration took it out. In. Out. In. Out. The union then asked for a joint committee to study equity. The administration took that out. The union said how about just saying we’ll meet and do a study, it doesn’t have to be a formal joint committee. The administration said no. Eventually, they agreed we could “examine” it. Something about the word “study” was unacceptable to our administration. Bizarre:

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  1. Max Powers 08/17/2015

    Wait until you see how the Gov taxes that $650 one time….supplemental income so 25% tax right off the bat plus your tax rate….

    • uomatters Post author | 08/17/2015

      Nope, it’s taxed just like any other UO salary, and it counts for PERS/ORP as well.

      • Payroll Guy 08/17/2015

        Hope you verified that. One time payments coming from the UO are tax at the supplemental rate.

        Got hosed on this one with retro pay.

        • uomatters Post author | 08/17/2015

          Payroll Guy, I’ll have you know I have a PhD in Economics!

          OK, so I don’t have a clue. I’ll ask the union and post the answer. Last time the goat payment was just straight income though, and I’ve never heard of a supplemental tax rate.

          • Max Powers 08/17/2015

            Income that is not tied to wages or regular salary, such as a bonus or one time payment is usually taxed at the supplemental rate of 25% right off the top then your taxes based on your income and W4. I am sure it would count for PERS/ORP but I would look into the supplemental income issue and see how it is going to be coded when the rubber hits the road for your paycheck.

          • Observer 08/17/2015

            As I understand it, the *withholding* is 25% from the supplemental pay, but that doesn’t mean you end up paying 25% on it. It’s counted as regular income and when it comes time to do your tax return, you pay whatever you would pay if your income were $650 higher than your regular wage. So you might owe more, or you might get a refund on that 25% that was withheld.

          • Hooray for Observer! 08/22/2015

            Withholdings are what is withheld from your paycheck throughout the year. Your actual taxes owed are determined when you complete your annual tax return. What is withheld from your paycheck is not taxes “paid”; it is merely a credit that is later applied to the taxes one owes. At the time you complete your annual tax return, it will be determined whether your withholdings were sufficient. If not, you will owe additional taxes but if it was sufficient then you will be due a refund. The IRS makes the rules about how much money is withheld from income paid by the university…not the university.

  2. Payroll Guy 08/17/2015

    Tax Geeks like myself love to see peoples eyes light up when I mention it. Must be what teaching is like when the student give you that “deer in the headlights” look.

    I hope you are right. (25% of $650 is $162.50).

    • uomatters Post author | 08/17/2015

      Here’s the answer from UO payroll:

      On the one hand, the income tax *withholding* on the $650 Bull payment will be 25% for federal, and 9% for state, plus FICA etc. UO will pay PERS/ORP at the regular rates.

      On the other hand, when you file your taxes, it will be *taxed* as regular income, at your regular state and federal tax rates, whatever they may be.

      I’ve got to say the withholding is bad news – puts a crimp in my plan to buy one of these and overwinter him on that pasture behind JH:

      Anyone want to go halves?

  3. Interested Observer 08/17/2015

    The one-time payment will, almost assuredly, be subject to a supplemental tax withholding. It will quite possibly come back when you file your taxes.

  4. Concerned PI 08/18/2015

    Me again- negotiators, what is the point of $1M being spent on one-time taxable goats? What is the philosophy, and whose idea is it? Why not invest an extra $1M towards something more than 0.8% COLA in future years? If there’s some reason to include goats in future negotiations, can we have them added to academic support accounts instead?

    • uomatters Post author | 08/18/2015

      It’s the Bull money this time. UO’s VP for finance didn’t want to make a long-term commitment, so this was the best the union could do. I imagine you could ask HR to take it in research money instead, though if you’re bringing in grants it’s small change.

  5. Fox 08/18/2015

    I wholeheartedly approve the idea of having this kind of money added to ASA accounts–or at least having the option. Some of us overspend our ASAs in order to travel to conferences, and it’s wasteful to use taxed dollars to pay for that.

  6. Observer 08/19/2015

    I second the call to have the money available through our ASA accounts. If the university wants to support research, there’s a way they could do it without extra cost to them.

    • Dog 08/19/2015

      faculty should at least have the option of taken it as supplemental pay or ASA support

  7. Concerned PI 08/19/2015

    I think the ASA option makes sense and is a good use for $1M investment in faculty compensation, for those of us who want to use it on academic-related travel or other activities. I’d rather have that option than a one-time taxed dollop that doesn’t add to our base pay. BTW, negotiators, thanks for your hard work.

  8. Perpetual Malcontent 08/19/2015

    There is even an advantage to the UO administration if faculty take this $650 as ASA – then the UO does not have to pay their share of FICA or retirement. It should be an option.

    • uomatters Post author | 08/19/2015

      If the administration agrees to this, and I hope the union will push them hard on it, they would presumably bump up the $650 by the amount of the OPE they save – as they’ve done in the past with stipend money. This would make the Bull payment about $1000 in ASA money.

  9. Dog 08/20/2015

    the total pay out should be the same whether salary +OPE +FICA + other crap or ASA money

    $1000 in extra ASA money, in my view, would be far more helpful
    for most vehicle and I am somewhat dismayed that the Union didn’t make this part of the original, taxing, exhausting ,etc negotiations, but maybe it can be retro fit in.

    • uomatters Post author | 08/20/2015

      The faculty union proposed this during bargaining, but the admin team shot it down. Word is the union is going to try again, in response to popular demand. So keep clicking on the poll. After adjusting for OPE $650 would be ~$860.

      Unfortunately the union does not seem to be willing to fight for my idea – every faculty member gets a bull calf or a side of beef cut and wrapped, or the equivalent caloric value in tofu.

      • Someone From the Library 08/24/2015

        If only you could pay travel expenses with 1100 pounds of tofu!

        Glad to see that 1% equity pool for librarians. So grateful to our tireless bargaining team.

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