Pres Schill offers faculty union a pay cut proposal and a threat: take it or suffer the consequences

The short version, from the union:

Executive Summary
The administration wants faculty to agree to a wage cut plan in the event of revenue loss. United Academics leadership has concerns about the proposal and would like to bargain the plan. If UA does not agree to the wage cut plan, the administration intends to either non-renew all 211 Career faculty who are up for renewal this spring or offer them only 0.1 FTE contracts. In order for a wage cut plan for faculty to go into effect, the membership of United Academics would have to vote in favor of the plan.

In a nutshell this plan would put the full cost of any tuition losses or state funding cuts on the faculty and OAs. There is no discussion of an offset for increases in federal funding, such as the $16m UO is getting from the CARES act. There is no discussion of cuts for Johnson Hall’s pet projects.

There is no accountability for the administration’s past decisions to spend down UO’s reserves on an Athlete’s Village for the 2021 Track & Field championships, on utility connections for Hayward field, on the Law School, on continued hidden athletic subsidies, etc, which led to the decrease in reserves and the increase in bond debt.

There is no provision for shared governance oversight of future spending.

The scheme is barely progressive – the cuts start at a very low $40K, and the top rate peaks at $200K, meaning those making say $400K pay the same percentage as those making $200K.

Amusingly, or perhaps I should say incompetently, whoever cooked this scheme up does not understand the difference between average and marginal – so after these cuts, an AVP now making say $199,999 would end up with a higher salary than one making $200,001. Under the middle scenario, the new salaries would be $178,819 and $176,000, or a $2,820 bigger cut for the poor soul who started out $2 ahead. This does not inspire confidence in our VPFA and VPBP’s ability to run our university’s finance and budgeting without supervision.

Here’s the schedule, with 5 scenarios and corresponding cuts, as calculated by the Administration:

The Administration’s full draft proposal is here. The Faculty Union’s full response is below.

Dear Colleagues,

On Tuesday, President Chris Sinclair and Executive Director Dave Cecil met with the UO’s Director of Employee Relations Missy Matella and Executive Vice Provost Janet Woodruff-Borden. They discussed the administration’s wage cut proposal for two hours. They had a follow-up meeting yesterday afternoon.

The email below describes the wage cut proposal, UA leadership’s questions and problems with the proposal, ideas we raised during that discussion, and consequences of not agreeing to their proposal. Because these conversations are less than 36 hours old, the email below is not a full summary of all points of the plan or a full account of the discussion. More information will follow and we welcome your questions.

Executive Summary
The administration wants faculty to agree to a wage cut plan in the event of revenue loss. United Academics leadership has concerns about the proposal and would like to bargain the plan. If UA does not agree to the wage cut plan, the administration intends to either non-renew all 211 Career faculty who are up for renewal this spring or offer them only 0.1 FTE contracts. In order for a wage cut plan for faculty to go into effect, the membership of United Academics would have to vote in favor of the plan.

The administration proposed a wage cut system that would be triggered if there was a decrease in revenue due to an enrollment decline or a loss in state funding. The administration’s plan is driven by a reasonable fear that enrollment might decline, or more likely, there will be a large reduction in state funding. A decline in enrollment or a loss of state funding would likely be a loss of millions of dollars, almost all of it to the E&G budget, which is the budget “bucket” that funds the UO’s academic programs including faculty salaries and other instructional expenses. This is partly why the administration thinks that cuts to faculty salaries is the solution to fill the projected hole.

The cuts would impact almost all university employees.* They proposed five levels of cuts depending on how much the university needed to raise. The five levels are designed to fill any budget hole caused by a decrease in funding, so they are almost 1:1. In other words, if we lose $10M, the $10M plan would be triggered. If there was a $25M shortfall, the $25M plan would be triggered. If there are multiple shortfalls, under the plan, the level for the cumulative decrease in funding would be implemented.

If a triggering event happened, the cuts that result from that event would last for two years, then salaries would be restored. If a triggering event happened at the end of the two-year window, the cuts would last for two more years. Under this plan, it would be possible for faculty to have four years of wage cuts.

The cuts would be progressive based on salary, starting for those who make between $40,000 and $50,000 and increasing until $200,000. You can see the progressive plan at this link. Proposed cuts are ~1% or less for employees earning $40,000 to $50,000 and go up incrementally from there with all people making more than $200,000 receiving the same percentage cut.

Our initial reaction to the proposal was that, in addition to preferring that wage cuts be voluntary, it seemed to us that they needed to start at a higher salary level and needed to continue increasing the size of the cuts to a higher top end. Sinclair said that in our conversations with faculty, there were many people who wanted to be part of a wage cut program, but almost everyone thought the program needed to start higher – closer to $100,000 – and be capped much higher than $200,000. Most of our senior administrators earn well north of $200,000 and it didn’t make sense not to ask them to take a larger share of the cuts, since they enjoy larger salaries.

We also argued that in exchange for salary cuts, the administration would need to allow for more oversight and input into budgetary decisions. Many of the faculty we have talked with through the union meeting, Tuesday and Thursday Zoom lunches, and informal conversations have expressed a keen desire to help their fellow faculty – particularly the Career faculty – by taking a temporary wage cut. We wanted some assurances that the administration would not use the wage cut money to hire new deans or embark on new projects while continuing to cut faculty or other employees.

Throughout bargaining, the administration has not been receptive to the idea of increased shared governance or faculty input or review of administration decision making. They have expressed to us that how the university spends money is a management prerogative and that faculty input is not needed. These sentiments were repeated in our conversations this week. Administration’s perspective is that the COVID crisis would be the sole cause of a budget crisis, so no change in budgetary practices or faculty input is warranted.

The administration is proposing no other money-saving measures at this time. The hiring freeze and wage cuts are the only proposed solutions to an anticipated budget crisis. While the administration has not said that they will not listen to faculty ideas on where or how to save money or find new revenue, they have so far demonstrated no willingness to implement or even entertain any other suggestions.

The administration made it clear that if we do not accept a wage cut plan, they will either non-renew all Career faculty up for renewal this spring, or offer them only 0.1 FTE contracts on May 1. We have 211 Career faculty who are up for renewal this year. These faculty are not evenly distributed around campus; they just happen to be on contracts that are up for renewal at this time. For instance, there are 17 Composition faculty who are up for renewal, many of them long-time instructors who have won multiple teaching awards. There are 18 faculty in the Lundquist College of Business up for renewal. Landscape Architecture could lose 13 Career faculty. In these and other areas, faculty could lose their jobs and departments could lose valued faculty not due to poor performance or disciplinary issues, but merely because these contracts are up for renewal during the pandemic.

The administration insists that their promise to either non-renew or renew at 0.1 FTE is not a threat to try to get us to agree to a wage cut package in two weeks. They insist it will be their only choice. Their assertions, however, run contrary to all messages from deans so far who are telling departments and units to anticipate few non-renewals. Moreover, the deans say it would not make any sense to non-renew everyone who happens to be up for renewal. There is no thought that a dip in enrollment would mean that Composition would be in a position to cut 17 faculty members or that Romance Languages could have a need for 18 fewer faculty members.

We firmly believe that the administration is holding these contracts hostage and using them as leverage in an attempt to bully the faculty into quickly agreeing to the administration’s wage cut plan. We asked if waiting until the May 10 deadline for new freshmen to put down a deposit, and thereby giving everyone more information about enrollment, would help, but we were told that we had to agree to the wage cut plan or it was 0.1 FTE or non-renewal for all 211 faculty.

To be clear, we are not automatically opposed to a wage cut plan. In our conversations, we suggested that a wage cut package should be part of our bargaining conversation, so we had more flexibility to exchange proposals and ideas over a longer period of time. We believe that temporary wage cuts can be part of a solution to a budgetary crisis, but there needs to be careful planning, full understanding, and thoughtful consideration before drastic actions are taken. You probably have a million questions about how all of this would work – so do we! We think that talking it out over the course of bargaining is the best solution to ensure that we get a fair deal for all faculty.

Any wage cut plan could only be implemented with majority approval of the full members of United Academics who participate in a vote on the proposal. If the leadership of UA believes the administration has made a reasonable proposal, we will refer it to a vote of the membership for ratification. There will be a period of time for discussion before any vote is held.

At this time, we do not feel like the proposal addresses enough of our concerns to bring it to a vote of the membership.

Again, if you have questions, please ask them. If we don’t know the answers, we can ask the administration for clarity. You can also check out the FAQ page, where many questions are asked and answered.

*Positions funded by external grants are exempt from the program, as their funding does not rely on either tuition or state funds. We do not know if the salaries of coaches or other athletics department personnel will be cut under this plan.

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83 Responses to Pres Schill offers faculty union a pay cut proposal and a threat: take it or suffer the consequences

  1. CSN says:

    Is there any way for us non-administrative types to get counts of the number of people in each bucket? How about counts of the number of people in each bucket by TTF status?

    In other words, are they playing political economy games?

  2. Anas clypeata says:

    Are they seriously talking about cutting the pay of someone who makes $40K while constructing a $12 million Jumbotron? Seriously? Have they no shame? No sense of decency?

    Cut athletics first, except for essential facility maintenance staff and other people who keep the lights on and the bills paid. Shut it down. Furlough them all. There are no sports happening. Then come to the faculty, who are working their butts off.

    • Dog says:

      If it becomes apparent that the 2020 NCAA football season will be cancelled (at this time I don’t think that will happen) – then this will be a serious readjustment of the Admin plans …

      • Publius says:

        My understanding is that California may ban large public gatherings up to 2021. The mayor of Los Angeles has already announced this for LA. If so, this eliminates the California schools from the Pac 12. If so, I don’t see how you have a football season this year.

    • Serge Protektor says:

      Yes. Seriously.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does this apply to law school faculty? Are they in the union? How can this be applied across all units when some clearly losing so much more money…

    • uomatters says:

      Law school faculty are not in the union, so I think the admin can do this by fiat, as they can to the OA’s – except those with individual contracts specifying their salaries, e.g. the deans, provost.

  4. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    If OSU is not going to have salary cuts — can anyone explain — really explain, not just with BS — how they can do this, when UO apparently can’t?

    • Anonymous says:

      They haven’t planned for any shortfall yet, because there’s no clear planning scenario. I’ll take our approach any second–plan for a variety of scenarios so that we have ample time to discuss and decide.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      Starting with less bloat, perhaps? It’s not that there will be no salary cuts at OSU – there will be a number whose salary will be cut to zero when the campus is not opened for classes in the fall and fall sports aren’t played and so on. UO got ahead of the curve by laying off the first 282, but I doubt they will be alone in that category. I think OSU is just trying to get to June 30 without having to swing a broad axe; I know they are making contingency plans for bringing the axe out over the summer once they have a better idea about fall term.

  5. Quarantined Otter says:

    Note that the salary cuts are to base salary only. Apparently summer pay and overload pay are exempt from this ‘tax’. That hardly seems equitable. Pay is pay.

    • ScienceDuck says:

      Any pay that comes from tuition or state support should be counted for cuts. If someone has an endowed chair with salary add-ons then cutting that would not (as far as I can tell) help the problem.

  6. Horatio says:

    The latest email from Phillips and Moffit mentions again the pay cut Schill is taking. Each time I hear about this supposed sacrifice to someone making .75 million, I am more angered by it. As another commentator plainly stated, someone making that much (after the “cut”) is accumulating personal wealth at the expense of the University.

    I am ready to take a pay cut. However, I will not vote “yes” to such a cut without something in return. That includes many of the non-economic items the faculty brought to the bargaining table before the crisis. Without this, my vote is a no.

    • thedude says:

      You mean parking? You can F*c*ing park in campus all you want right now!! And maybe for the next year or two!!!

      And child care? That’s shut down.

    • Won't Say says:

      Yeah…Schill needs to shut up about his sacrifice.

  7. Anon2 says:

    I had mixed feelings about this Union message when it hit my inbox. Let me preface this by mentioning that I am tenured at the associate level, and stand to lose between 2 and 10% (ouch!) of my salary under the plan. I won’t complain–I’m well paid and have been well served by tax cuts and rising stock markets (ouch!).

    I am heartened to see that the administration has a counterpart in the Union–someone they can talk to and can potentially deliver the faculty support. In my view, this is what the Union is about. I have no doubt that in many places without a faculty union the admins would just fire 200 Carreer NTTFs, rather than spreading the pain to unruly TTFs.

    I have two less positive observations to make.
    1) The admin plan seems reasonable, and allows cuts to be shared widely. The union objection also appear reasonable. There are clear tradeoffs between the two approaches that are not discussed in the letter. For instance, if 60% of salaries fall between $40-100,000 (made up number), then excluding those from salary cuts would imply draconian and perhaps unacceptable cuts for those affected. The problem is shared, but sacrifices would not be. So: let’s just acknowledge these tradeoffs, and work on an improve package with the admins. I’d be in favor of one that, for example, excludes cuts for the 40-60k salaries in the first two scenarios but incorporates them in the other scenarios.

    2) As a card-carrying member of the union, I find it in very poor taste the request to increase Union oversight over University business. If I am willing to take a sizable cut in my salary, it is because I believe in the institution, support the mission of public universities like the UO, and strongly believe that we need to all pitch in, because the Coronavirus affects us all. It is not to let the union gain more power vs admins, and I resent this hijacking of my sentiments.

    My two complaints above are good examples of why I am seldom happy with the missives I get from my union: they feel disingenuous and needlessly combative. We now face a crisis like no other, where we need Labor and Management to work together on a clear, shared goal. I also believe that JH is working in good faith with this crisis. The Union can really shine here, help craft the solution AND sell it to the membership. But it must abandon its usual combative MO, and be more honest about the cold hard calculus of budget shortfalls.

    If this doesn’t happen, then I will have to finally ask myself why I joined the union. I’ll certainly be less wealthy in one year, I’ll also have one less card in my wallet.

    • Jack Straw Man says:

      I’m going to quote from the FAQ on the UA website:

      “So, what they want from us is a mechanism that lets them cancel contracts or lower wages if there is a budget deficit. Unfortunately (again), they do not want to give us any input into the budget, instead arguing that all the decisions they have made so far are the right ones and they don’t need our input.”

      Given all the questionable budget decisions the administration has made ($12 million Jumbotron?), the union’s request for more faculty involvement hardly seems like a power grab, as you characterize it. Rather, it seems like baseline common sense.

      I say that as a card-carrying member of the union, tenured at the associate rank. And as someone who actually believes in labor solidarity, I must say it rankles to see how quick you are to assume the worst about your own colleagues. To call us “combative” when the administration is holding 211 career faculty’s contracts hostage is…an interesting move.

    • Oryx says:

      About 2. I haven’t been a fan of the union, but I have been much more outraged by the admin’s budgetary priorities. The admin seems unable to oversee itself or to understand how awful it looks, and this includes our $500k/yr provost. The only option is oversight from the union.

    • To Anon2 says:

      Get off your high horse. If you think the admin’s approach to union discussion/negotiations isn’t to get faculty to sacrifice for the most / settle for the least, you’re delusional. Feel free to volunteer for an extra pay cut based on your belief in the mission (or just donate your salary!).

    • Anon3 says:

      I’m already working in good faith Anon2. I am fully committed to my vocation. I care about the institution, and I’m working long unpaid hours with a kid in my lap because I value accessible public education and knowledge for the common good. I also care about the cold hard calculus of budget shortfalls, thus am appalled at the priorities of this administration. The union *is* the faculty, not some external entity trying to get power.

    • charlie says:

      I would suggest to you that you’ll be needing some solidarity right quick when dealing with one major labor issue. Y’all are creating hours of on-line teaching content. Who owns it? You, or the flagship?

      The late David Noble’s book, “Digital Diploma Mills,” spoke extensively of the automation of the classroom, and the university ownership of your image and curriculum. With the closure of unis, and nearly all of them broadcasting classes, Noble’s research becomes even more prescient.

      Now, on second thought, no wonder the unis and their lapdog NCAA, went to the mat in the Ed ‘O Bannion image ownership case…

  8. union_gal says:

    Well, after many years of being anti-Union, I now see the union as our only way out of this mess. I have the same concerns as Anon2–although in 20+ years I’ve seen the eroding of faculty governance and wouldn’t mind getting some of it back. I’m also hoping that somehow, those of us who are planning to retire in 2 years don’t get royally screwed. But I doubt that will happen.

  9. thedude says:

    How long are the cuts for? 6 months?

    I would presume the cuts should more progressive and apply to dean’s and football coaches etc

    An associate prof making 160k with 3 kids a mortgage and car payment is not the same as a president making 700k with a paid for car and house.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or an assistant prof making 80k with 3 kids and a mortgage….is it right to read that if the second trigger happened in 2022 a year after the first one there would be up to 3+ years of cuts? Also how on earth is the top bracket 200+? Should be at least one more bracket if not two more

      • thedude says:

        I’m not saying I’m not well paid. I know I am. I think I “earned it”, but who knows.

        I’m just staying the cuts should be more progressive.

        The admins don’t want that, because they know that won’t affect many faculty (we don’t have many people earned 200k+).

        It will affect a lot of VPs, Deans, Provosts, Vice Provosts, and should affect football coaches.

        • Ladida says:

          Yeah… Full Prof in the arts making 80k a year here. With kids. Main provider for my family. TheDude and I work for the same institution but our realities are very, very different. I am not complaining or judging your salary, I am reminding the readers of this blog there are all kinds of faculty realities here.

          • uomatters says:

            thedude is on your side Ladida. He’s arguing for *more* progressive cuts than the Admin is – he gives up more, you give up less. That said, progressive inadequacy is just one of the problems with Johnson Hall’s scheme.

    • ScienceDuck says:

      I don’t think football coach salaries are paid by tuition dollars. However, they are paid by ticket sales and media rights. At most schools, athletics turns to general fund money to make up a shortfall. Not here (for the most part). What is going to happen to athletics if there is a hiccup in the revenue flowing in? If football does go on and the money flows in…will those extra millions spent for tiny advantages on the field still be a priority as everyone else endures pain?

  10. Munderday says:

    I’m willing to vote yes for the paycuts in exchange for tenure for instructors that have been promoted to Senior Instructor II.

  11. Jack Straw Man says:

    The more I think about this phrase from the Union’s FAQ the more depressed I get: “instead arguing that all the decisions they have made so far are the right ones and they don’t need our input.”

    This sounds so Trumpian to me. Trump guts the CDC budget, fires its top people, buries the previous administration’s plans for a pandemic response, ignores and/or suppresses warnings that a pandemic is coming, and then when it happens shrugs and says, nobody could have predicted it. Johnson Hall blows scads of money on athletics and vanity projects, on everything but academics, and then when it turns out we’re financially unprepared for a crisis, shrugs and says it’s not their fault. Suck it up, losers.

    But the faculty is out of line for asking to have a say in budgetary matters going forward?

    • uomatters says:

      Tug the forelock when you speak that way about our executive administration, you villein!

  12. Anon-N says:

    After reading the careful union response – no. One should not agree to two-year salary cuts, and possibly multiple ones, under these conditions. Like other things with COVID19, there’s no point in assuming current rules will apply in two weeks, much less two years. This isn’t the 2008 budget crisis. We don’t really know how the state budget will be affected or by how much enrollment will be lower or if we will become a bastion of distance ed, what they’re doing with PERS, etc (affects faculty choosing to stay on payroll). We don’t know enough about the UO budget and its buckets and their perceived rules to understand why this is the best option, and the ‘trust me’ from JH unfortunately just does not work under these circumstances. We most certainly do not know enough to agree to anything that would last two years at a time!

    If there is an eventual agreement on faculty salary reductions (after there has been honest, transparent discussion of all other options available, across the buckets), perhaps consider voting for 6-month stages with exceedingly transparent budget information required before re-upping each time. Also, as has been pointed out, compression and below-comparator salaries should be in the discussion of more progressive policies.

  13. uomatters says:

    If you’re on twitter, Sanjay’s tweets on this scheme and the replies are pretty good: He’s also worth following for his work on replicability and open science, if we ever get back to those days.

  14. DuckYouToo says:

    And what a nice fuck you very much just as everyone put all their sweat into gettin spring term going! I notice no one here has mentioned also, that even if we bow to their demands all 211 or so of the career faculty only get their regular FTE promised for one year. Any additional years on their contracts (often 2-3 years long) are still going to be 0.1 FTE until decided otherwise.

  15. Canard says:

    Completely agree with Anon-N and DuckYouToo. The president continues to exhibit his remarkable leadership skills, managing to piss off everyone who teaches here, while we are all still up to our eyeballs in Zoomworld, trying to keep this place afloat. We have a board of trustees loaded with business people, and I’d like to hear how their businesses would deal with such a downturn – would they cut their overhead (of which we have loads), or cut the employees who actually bring in the revenue?

    I’ve followed the finances on this campus closely enough for many years to know that the incompetence of this administration is matched only by their need to make all decisions unilaterally and in deep ignorance of what is actually happening in the trenches. If budgets need to be cut, perhaps those who carry out the mission of the university would have some useful insights on how to accomplish this, while maintaining the quality of the institution. But nope, across-the-board uniform policies will be applied, probably based upon some spurious “metrics”. After pumping all available resources into their endless string of new initiatives, suddenly there’s no cushion to support the core mission. We’re being asked to make up the difference, and we’re just supposed to trust that they’ve considered all options and come to the optimal solution. I don’t trust them, and I don’t buy it.

    I might be able to tolerate the stupidity of this approach (I’ve gotten used to it in the past five years), but making the threat against the career instructors sent me over the edge. (Nice little university you’ve got here, too bad if something were to happen to it.) I’m becoming ashamed to work for this institution.

    A meme from the past seems applicable here:

    • Fishwrapper says:

      We didn’t have “memes” back then – that was what we called a magazine cover. (Pretty good issue, too.)

    • thedude says:

      Businesses are borrowing money while it’s cheap and forgiveable and putting workers on furlough so the UI system pays them instead of the company. Some are offering early retirement, others paid leave (at a fraction of usual salary (sounds like early sabbatical)). They’re also cutting back on costs where possible. some are reducing planned infrastructure improvements. I.E. several ski resorts have cut back on plans to expand lifts etc over the next summer.

      We’re making some of those moves, but not others.

  16. Anonymous says:

    What do you mean barely progressive? The % cuts increase with wage. It is BY DEFINITION progressive.

    Maybe you disagree with the cuts, but please don’t mislead the reader.

    • Curious George says:

      Look at the formula in the wage cut calculator. Someone making $40,000 is taking the same cut per dollar over $30,000, as someone making $190,000. This is not truly progressive.

      • uomatters says:

        Helpful if you could show the math on that.

        • Curious George says:

          Let’s look at the formula that calculates the percent cut under scenario 1, Est E&G savings $5,000,000:
          B7 refers to the cell with base salary. The formula says that if someone makes $30,000 then they have no cut.
          If they make greater than $200,000, the cut is 4%.
          If the salary is between $30,000 to$ 200,000, the cut is (4%/$170,000) x wages above $30,000. With this formula, the first $30,000 in wages aren’t subject to the cut and those earning $30,001-$199,999 have the same % cut per dollar of income over $30,000. The chart in the draft document makes the plan look progressive, as shielding $30,000 from the cut has a much greater % impact on someone making $40,000 than someone making a higher dollar amount. However, the % cut per dollar of income over $30,000 is the same for someone making $40,000 as it is for someone making $199,999. Thus, the plan isn’t truly progressive, in my opinion.

          • Hart says:

            So you’re saying, if they protected the first 30K as they are, and then used the existing formula for the next 30, and a different formula that cuts a larger percentage of the next 30, and so on, that would be progressive.

            Gosh I wonder if there’s a system for that? OH WAIT THERE IS, this is how tax tables work. So I guess it would hardly take revolutionary thinking to work out the arithmetic, huh?

  17. Fishwrapper says:

    It’s been over a month since the lockdown began, so the timing of this headline only serves to polish the optics of the story to a blinding glare…
    Buried inside:

    UO instituted a hiring freeze earlier this month, among several measures the school has taken to mitigate the financial impact and uncertainty due to the novel coronavirus. It’s not immediately clear how McClendon’s contract and hire fits within those parameters.

  18. zach says:

    Why doesn’t the union demand UO sell some real estate, treetops, presidents house, (or rent out former pres house at least -collier house- or rent out the abandoned child care center homes at 15th and Moss), joe romania property, old ORI building on Franklin, Agate Hall (Condon school would make a nice Mcminnamins)…not to mention all the empty land UO has quietly bought or seized over the years….heck they could sell the whole dang failed UO Research Park…this raises the question what do they own and how long have they owned it….JUST SELL IT

    • charlie says:

      Because your uni isn’t in the business of teaching/research, it’s in the business of letting contracts. Several entities are gonna make big cash money financing building projects no one needs, so you gotta have the wherewithal to accomplish those boondoggles. We who labored in k-12 land realized all that. Some of you might be getting to the party late…

  19. vhils says:

    To clarify, the cost of the jumbotron is a donation, most likely from you-know-who. The same you-know-who who gave roughly the same amount a month ago to support Oregon response to COVID, including a million to the OR Food Bank. The board vote ‘yes’ is required because of any University purchase over $5 million requires it, but lets stop pretending the money is somehow coming from the academic side, or even athletics budget.

    I have all sorts of issues with how the University interacts with him as a donor, and the kind of infrastructure costs related to his donations that end up on the academic side, and, yes, the optics suck, but this is definitely apples and oranges when it comes to the current budget issues.

    • uomatters says:

      One connection is that, as so many times in the past, the academic budget will end up paying for part of the infrastructure costs. The Athletic Department has already negotiated their overhead rate from 7% down to 4.8% average and 4.2% at the margin, costing the E&G budget ~$1.5M a year. How can they do this? My guess is pressure from big athletic donors is part of it. Naturally the donor wants all their gift to go to its intended purpose – here, the biggest of all possible Jumbotrons. It’s the job of the UO to tell them thank you, but like all other donors, we’re going to have to reserve a certain part of this gift for costs, not push them off on our faculty, staff, students, and other donors.

      • vhils says:

        That makes sense and is a legitimate argument, unfortunately, because you just ‘scream’ jumbotron over and over its getting lost in your rhetorical noise.

        • Jack Straw Man says:

          @ vhils:

          It’s a legitimate argument that somehow never seems to get through to Johnson Hall, athletics, or their defenders. You seem to be one of the latter, claiming that the Jumbotron is a donation, and conveniently forgetting that these “donations” always end up costing the academic side. Jock Box?

        • uomatters says:

          I’m sorry. I’d resolve to be more civil, but their parties are pretty dull.

          • Dog says:

            fuck civility
            that only leads to a successful but ultimately superficial career

  20. Hibernating Otter says:

    WTAF? Does the hiring freeze not apply to athletics?

    Bad optics, to say the least. At a minimum, the admin needs to explain…right now…

  21. Hibernating Otter says:

    The current social security base is $137,700. Those who earn more than that do not pay social security taxes on any income above the base. This amounts to 7.65% of all pay over $137,700. In an equalizing move, perhaps the UO could cut 7.65% of all pay over $137,700.

    • ScienceDuck says:

      Will that money then be used to increase their Social Security payout on retirement, or would that be too equalizing?

    • thedude says:

      You know benefits top out too right?

  22. Beeline says:

    “…this plan would put the full cost of any tuition losses or state funding cuts on the faculty and OAs.” – No, this plan includes cuts for Classified staff as well. On a whole they earn less than faculty and OAs, but they are still included in this plan and will be sharing the burden.

  23. LemonCrisp says:

    Maybe everyone has already seen this, but the administration offered a link to the pay cut calculator: . Under this scheme the cuts actually start at a very low $30k (not the $40k that is reported here) and are a simple continuous linear ramp from $30k up to $200k.

    An honest question: Why would anyone accept a pay cut without getting something in return? Shouldn’t the administration be offering either the promise of increased compensation once certain other benchmarks are met? Alternatively, shouldn’t they be offering increased control over the university?

    We are told over and over to think of education as a business, so what exactly are the employees purchasing with their payment in the form of salary cuts?

    • LemonCrisp says:

      Sorry, I guess that we’re not able to share links. However, that link is present at the bottom of the “full draft proposal” that’s linked in the above article.

      • uomatters says:

        You should be able to share links. Try taking off the http:\\ or htpps:\\ and let me know, thanks.

  24. Just Sayin . . . says:

    Why doesn’t the union push for ending the post-retirement gigs Brad Shelton and others who have outlasted their shelf life?
    Especially now that retirement positions cost the full PERS amount, no cost savings there (new law as of 1/1/2020)

    • Dog says:

      they only cost the full PERS amount if your working longer than the 1049 hour limit; otherwise its the same cost

      • uomatters says:


        • Dog says:

          that comes from the PERS perspective NewsLetter form Last January – its basically phrased as that retirees are no longer subject to the 1049 rule, if the institution chooses to hire them back for more hours then the institution has to absorb the extra PERS costs.

          Last August or so OSU announced they would not hire any existing retiree for more hours. Who knows what the UO is or will do but I would be surprised if they let us regular people work for more hours …

  25. ScienceDuck says:

    University of Arizona announced for all employees furloughs of 13 to 39 days depending on salary or pay cuts of up to 20% for highest salaries.

  26. Observer says:

    Says here the UO is getting $16,095,946 from the federal stimulus package. For that you could get 7 athletics coaches or 402 career instructors.

  27. See C says:

    Has anyone noted that this proposal actually creates a reverse incentive for admins to make choices that increase the budget shortfall? They are asking for a parachute with an auto-increase feature. But that decreases the incentive to limit the budget.

    If the budget is $14.5m short and an admin decision might cost $500,000, then what is the incentive for the admin to not decide to pay out that extra? They will know that the extra loss is already covered.

    It’s easy to pretend this won’t happen, but without oversight it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t. Some smart & perceptive admin will realize in 4 months time (when all is quieter again) that some long-term UO goal is now feasible because of a combination of lower capital costs, cheap credit, and the guaranteed on-employee-backs parachute to fund the added outlay.

    I’m not trying to be cynical: this is an honest question. Do they realize this incentive will be baked in? (Or am I missing something about the proposal such that it’s not?)

  28. To See C says:

    You’re not being cynical, you’re being realistic. The admin have demonstrated they’re willing to engage in brinksmanship. They’re threatening to do things–like fire all career faculty–that would be ruinous. Any group that shows that mindset, is all but certain to try to continue getting away with as much as possible even after the emergency passes. We can’t let the precedent for “on-employee-backs” get set.

  29. Anonymous says:

    In the past, step freezes for classified staff have been followed by sudden budget surpluses within a month. Bonuses for higher admins soon followed. It’s a pattern. Don’t fall for it.

  30. See C says:

    One reason why it is hard to take this proposal seriously is because the most obvious place to make cuts first is supplies & services budgets (especially since nobody is traveling). The administration can’t be serious that these budget lines aren’t on the table. If they are serious about that, then this is a pretty clear indication to Pres Schill that he should fire his budget advisers because he is getting worse-than-worthless advice. This is extraordinarily obvious stuff — the PhDs they are enticing to volunteer for a salary drop are going to notice it. Why is the Pres getting such bad advice (assuming he’s not the one coming up with these insulting proposals)?

    • Big XII says:

      Someone should be looking at utilities savings, travel savings, supply savings, etc. There are a lot of costs not happening right now. Granted most of the budget in higher ed is people but there are some savings going on. The biggest albatrosses for most campuses are over extending themselves with too much bonding and PERS plans.

  31. uomatters says:

    Note to thedude: Your recent comment was deleted because it’s not clear whether you meant to type “hell” or “he’ll” – which significantly affects the interpretation. Note to all commenters: the normal one cuss-word ceiling has been relaxed for the duration.