Faculty union members vote 633 to 14 to ratify wage freeze / contract extension

(Now updated with a long response from the administration, below)

Thus ends a busy three weeks that began with President Schill’s Weakly Progressive Pay Reduction ultimatum on April 16, and finished with an overwhelming demonstration of faculty trust in union President Chris Sinclair and Exec Director Dave Cecil, and the union’s low-budget / high-information outreach efforts. Message here:

Dear Colleague,

We are pleased to inform you that the membership has ratified the agreement to end bargaining by a vote of 633 to 14. The leadership of UA appreciates how active and engaged you all have been the last few weeks.

We are also very aware that important work remains to be done, first and foremost pushing the administration to renew the 12-month career faculty at their current FTE or restoring their FTE as soon as possible. Our 12-month colleagues have contracts that renew on July 1 and there is no way the university can function without their full labor.

We will keep you informed of our next steps to prepare for negotiations over a fair wage cut package for campus. We anticipate having a town hall to share and solicit thoughts later this month.

Again, thank you for your participation and activism. We will need to continue to stand and work together in the coming months.

With that over, expect some updates to our popular “budget buckets” posts on wasteful administration spending and bloat soon.

5/8/2020 update from the Administration:

Dear Faculty,

We are pleased to announce that the University of Oregon and United Academics have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides for a one-year extension of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and a one-year extension of the career faculty contracts that are up for renewal this May. We thank our faculty and the union for voting to support this agreement and for their partnership throughout this process.

Before talking about the details of the parties’ agreement, I want to acknowledge that the uncertainty created by the impacts of COVID-19 and the parties’ negotiations has likely caused you anxiety and stress during a time when you are facing new challenges in the classroom and may be wearing multiple hats at home – employee, partner, parent, and possibly teacher to your own children or dependents. I am sorry that the uncertainties and difficult conversations caused by COVID-19 may have further impacted you at a time when you are juggling so much. I also want to make it very clear that we value and appreciate the work that you are doing and your dedication to our students. The University of Oregon, like all institutions across the nation, faces unprecedented financial issues and enrollment uncertainties that will continue to present tough decisions.  While I cannot promise that all of the difficult decisions are behind us, I can tell you that we are committed to being transparent and collaborative as we continue to work through these issues in the future.   

Memorandum of Understanding:

Like many of the university’s functions, bargaining between the university and UA has been impacted by COVID-19 and the related stay-at-home-orders. Not only did COVID-19 impact our bargaining process, it impacted the university’s ability to predict and understand its state appropriations and enrollment position next year. State appropriations and tuition are the university’s two biggest sources of revenue. Decreases to those two sources significantly impact the university’s financial position.

Given those uncertainties, the parties have been working over the last month on possible solutions, including discussions regarding a progressive pay reduction plan and an extension of the collective bargaining agreement. Those negotiations have resulted in an MOU to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by one year to June 30, 2021 and a one-year extension of career contracts up for renewal this month. The parties will meet over the summer to discuss additional MOUs – including a possible pay reduction plan, changes to the Tenure Reduction Program, expectation of continued employment plan, and the process for increasing career faculty FTE. The parties will restart the formal bargaining process for a new collective bargaining agreement over winter term AY 20-21.

Due to the financial and enrollment uncertainties we are facing, the university is initially offering conservative FTE on career contracts up for renewal this month. Available career faculty FTE will be provided over the summer as we better understand our fall term enrollment and the university’s state appropriations. The university will provide faculty with their final fall term FTE at least two weeks before the start of fall term. Available FTE will be provided to career faculty based on pedagogical and curricular need and performance criteria as evidenced by rank and other objective measures. It is important to note that this MOU does not apply to or impact FTE for funding-contingent faculty.

Information and resources for career faculty regarding contracts are available on the HR website. The resources include a copy of the agreement, answers to frequently asked questions, and other helpful links.

Details of the agreement:

An overview of the MOU is provided below with complete terms available on the HR website:

    • Salary – Salary minimums and increases in the current CBA will remain in force. This means promotion and post tenure increases, for example, will proceed in accordance with the terms of the current CBA. There will be no annual increases for represented faculty in academic year 20-21.
    • Negotiations on additional MOUs – No later than July 15, 2020, the university and the union will begin discussions on other common interests including expectation of continued employment for career faculty, tenure reduction program, and a progressive pay reduction plan.
    • Career Faculty Contracts – The university is providing a one-year contract extension for non-funding contingent career nine-month and twelve-month faculty with contracts that require notice of renewal or non-renewal by May 8, 2020 and who would have otherwise been renewed prior to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19.
      • All career faculty contracts extended under this section will have appointments ending on June 15, 2021.
      • The 0.55 and 0.11 FTE in renewal offers are initially provided based on actual annualized AY 19-20 FTE.
      • Within 45 days of the signed MOU and in consultation with the union, the university will establish and notify career faculty of additional criteria it will use to determine available FTE increases.
      • No later than two weeks before the start of fall term of AY 20-21, the university will assign any increased fall term FTE to career faculty with extended contracts.
      • This MOU does not apply to or impact FTE for funding-contingent faculty.

Again, thank you for your service to this institution. We truly appreciate your work during this difficult time.

Please visit the HR website for more information about the MOU and negotiations with United Academics. Questions can be directed to Employee and Labor Relations by emailing uoelr@uoregon.edu.

Best regards,

Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University Human Resources

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