Faculty Union & Admins restart bargaining, 1-5PM Friday on Zoom

Liveblog: Usual disclaimer: My opinion of what people said, meant to say, or should have said. Nothing is a quote if not in quotes. The link to register and watch is here.

Provost Phillips is here for the Admin side, which is new. He seems to be having a calming effect on both sides.

Cecil: Union feels that the current treatment of NTTF is a betrayal of that the Union has bargained with the Admins over the past 7 years – better job security for NTTFs. At the time neither party had discussed to possibility that the Administration would assign 0.1 FTE to career faculty who had previously had, say, 1.o FTE contracts. But this is what the Administration is now doing. We want to restore this – faculty who have been here for years, and  earned renewal and promotion contracts should not be jerked around like this. Also, they should not be put in a situation where they have to accept a promotion only at the risk of losing FTE.

Matella: It’s the Union’s fault, for not immediately accepting Brad Shelton’s weakly progressive pay reduction proposal.

Phillips: One shared principle is that we support all the faculty. We need to face the challenges together, as a community. (But the Admin won’t share budget info, won’t let faculty participate in budgeting. This is not the “respect” that Phillips is claiming to have.)

Phillips then trots out the talking point that salaries and benefits are 80% of UO’s budget. Faculty pay and benefits, however, are only about 15% of UO’s budget, or about 32% of the E&G budget. (And probably a decreasing percentage, from a quick look at the increases in administrative hiring and pay over the last 5 or so years.)

Cecil: Your previous ultimatum offer put all the cost of enrollment decreases/state cuts on employees. We want to look at ways to raise new funds, cut other spending. Some examples would be a temporary increase in the Foundation’s endowment fees, borrow from reserves, cut athletic subsidies, etc

Matella: We’re already considering ways to free up other money. We set up a sham committee with the Senate to look into this.

Cecil: So, say there’s a $100M shortfall. The administration would then make up some % from other sources – cuts and new assessments –  and it would be the faculty union’s job to cover the leftover amount?

Phillips: Seems to agree with Cecil. Willing to repackage some info, then share it with Union. Wants to make sure that the Union won’t butt into admin decisions about how to make up their share of cuts. Don’t mess with the Jumbotron or the Police! If the Admins want to cut museums and LERC, not the union’s business.

Also proposes trigger points for say enrollment, with the administration responsible for making some level of cuts before the trigger and faculty salary cuts take effect.

Cecil: Back in April we kept getting told that every proposal we came up with for new revenue or non-academic cuts was a non-starter. Are we going to go down that road again?

Matella: We have thoughts. We’re already doing modeling with other faculty groups. (Why are they excluding the Union from these meetings?)

Cecil: Why isn’t the union part of these groups?

Phillips: Not answering the question as to why the Union is not part of these groups. Announces that UO will be doing some borrowing – tough now that we’re so far in the hole for Duck stuff.

Sinclair: Wants very much to come to a quick agreement. But given what we’ve seen from you so far -.e.g your betrayal of the Careers – and the fact that you’re still excluding us from budget planning, it is going to take a while, and we’re going to need to make sure there are no more loopholes for you to use to screw us.

Cecil: We’re not going to bargain a plan with you where the faculty take the cuts and then you give the admins (and coaches?) raises, bonuses, sweet buy-out deals, etc.

Phillips: Agreed.

Matella: OK if you take a $10M cut and then we build the Jumbotron, right?

Phillips: Vast bulk of the higher wage people on campus are faculty – except of course senior administrators and coaches.

Matella: Expects same or pay cut schedule for faculty and OA’s, SEIU negotiation will be different.

Phillips: Intent of Brad’s continuous increasing average rate plan was to be progressive. (Result was weakly progressive). Open to alternatives. Had hoped to not have cuts below $70K, but that turned out to be too progressive on the top end.

Matella: Even though our plan’s ATR topped out at $200K, it was 20% which is pretty high relative to what other universities have done.

Cecil: We’d also like to talk about voluntary cuts / furloughs / early retirement. Lots of faculty have brought this up to us, as a way to save NTTF jobs.

Phillips: Hard to imagine a voluntary plan cutting costs enough, but can see using it as part of a pay cut plan. (Encouraging words.)

Matella: Concerned that a voluntary plan might exploit the community minded.

Cecil: We’ll need a mechanism to restore wages after the Democrats win a clean sweep and throw money at higher ed.

Phillips: Gotta go, hope we can work together in a positive way, appreciate your work on this. I view you all as my colleagues, sharing,. fairness, cooperation, thanks.

2:35, BREAK: Just kidding Cecil’s on a roll. Moving on to Car to eer Instructors and expectation of continued employment at same FTE. Limited reasons for non-renewal would include …. 90 days notice. This is complicated stuff, sorry I am not going blog it cause I’ll get some important things wrong.

Cecil: Wants a joint committee to handle non-renewals. The Union knows that there are faculty with performance issues, and we don’t want our other members to have to cover for them. We also know that academic and financial reasons can make it necessary to have layoffs. A joint committee will allow this to be done consistently and rationally. We want an earned seniority system – but we need to balance this with diversity goals.

Cecil: Early retirement incentives. Like TRP, but with an early buyout. Saves UO money on full prof pay and Tier 1. We have people on TRP who would take this deal now. We’re open to proposals from admin on this.

Matella: Wants some elaboration. Wants to talk it over with her team.

BREAK until ~3:30. They’re back.

Matella: Spitballing about trying out the expectation of continued employment and joint committee temporarily, to see how it goes.

Cecil: Temporary changes in enrollment and budget should not be balanced by firing Career Faculty – has to be some other way to handle it.

Matella: “80% of our budget is personnel” so if we have a shortfall it is going to fall on some employees – if not NTTF’s then SEUI or OAS.

Cecil:  The administration’s decisions over the past few years have cut the reserve fund, blown through our credit rating, pissed off the state legislature. Now you want the Career Faculty to pay for your mistakes.

Matella: No, we want to put the costs of our mistakes on *all* employees (except coaches) – that’s why we want Brad’s PPR.

Pratt: When we bargained this contract originally, the deal was that the university would have to take on the responsibility of job security for NTTF’s – while allowing for changes in student needs, etc. JH hasn’t done its job. We need to set up structures to do this. Put some of the risk on the administration – not all on Career faculty. This should be a shared principle on both sides, as it was when we bargained this. Set up this joint committee to do this.

Matella: She’s not writing the committee idea off. Needs to take it back to Pres Schill and Angela Wilhelms, of course. They’ll kill it.

Matella: I’m actually very optimistic in believing we have many points of agreement. And we have done lots of things to cut back on other spending.

Sinclair: We’re willing to take salary cuts, but in return you need to work with us on a system that brings us into the decisions about how the money we’re giving up gets spent.

Green: The mission of the university is teaching and research. The faculty you want to cut are the very people who accomplish our teaching mission.

Matella: I appreciate what you’re saying. I’m optimistic that we can address these problems together. What’s the best path forward? Can I take your powerpoint and get it back to you with comments?

Cecil: Please, yes, thank you! Meet again on Tu, maybe even get to an agreement by Thursday?

Matella: I might even be able to share some models.  Cecil: Today? Matella: No, but soon.

Cecil: We understand we’re not management – but when you come to us and ask for some of our wages back, you have to let us be involved in decision-making – and stop giving us ultimatums.

Epstein: Missy, did I hear you say that the pool of faculty wages from the cuts will become the new rainy day fund?

Matella: No, it’s to offset a short term revenue loss. We do believe the university does need to address long term problems like the law school though.

Cecil: So, our concern is that we give you back our wages to plug your budget hole, you blow it on more admin bloat.

Matella:  I have to say that we do not have administrative bloat.

Cecil: Currently you have 22 administrative positions posted, and zero faculty. How can we assure faculty that their wage cuts won’t go to hire more AVPlets?

Actually, I only see 21 now. They must have just hired another administrator:

Cecil: We’ll be back, Tuesday at 10.

to6/25/2020: They’re disabling Zoom chat, but I’ll live-blog some, and the UO Matters comments are open to all – faculty, staff, disgruntled JH administrators, UO lawyers trying to masquerade as neuroscience faculty, PR flacks who can’t even think up a decent screen name, Phildo lovers, GE’s pretending to be deans, puzzled townies, etc. Remember – use a screen name, and no more than one cuss word per comment. Also it looks like you should register, preferably in advance. My info is that anyone with an email address – even reporters – can register. You don’t need to be faculty or an admin.

Dear Colleague,

On Friday, June 26, from 1-5 pm, the United Academics bargaining team will begin conversations with the administration bargaining team about restoring the FTE of Career faculty scheduled to work reduced FTE next year, fixing our broken system of employing Career faculty, revising our current TTF tenure reduction/retirement program, and determining what a fair and equitable salary cut plan might look like if one is needed.

This bargaining session will be on Zoom. Your video and audio will be muted, and the chat feature will be disabled. Neither party has bargained remotely before, so your patience will be appreciated if something goes wrong. Bargaining sessions will not be recorded. You can register for the session here: https://aft.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zuG1oMfBTmquUjbp9A93Sg

If possible, please register in advance to help us streamline the approval process. Once registered, you will receive the webinar link via email.

Because we have a large amount of work to do quickly, this bargaining session will mainly be about discovering where we have common agreement and where we differ in terms of general priorities. As we explore the issues, we may begin to reduce our agreements to writing, but in the beginning, we will not be exchanging proposals in the format you may have seen before. We hope these will be productive sessions and that you will watch and give us feedback.

You can always catch up on bargaining at our bargaining webpage.

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10 Responses to Faculty Union & Admins restart bargaining, 1-5PM Friday on Zoom

  1. Dog says:

    I imagine there will be an endless string of this, a new one
    following the new reality, which changes every week. Never
    really, has the future been harder to predict …

  2. thedude says:

    So next time when we’re presented with voting on something, for instance salary freezes, are they binding? Because the way it was presented, was the salary freezes were going to happen instead of furloughs. Instead we got both a permanent drop in income and might get temporary furloughs too starting this fall? Or is this about 2021/2022?

  3. CalltheMidwife! says:

    Every college and university across campus had to respond to the Covid crisis? Did they all target their non-tenure-track faculty? Seems the more unionized a school the bigger target on (cough) “career” faculty

  4. Dog says:

    I am sure whatever will be done will be sub-optimal and will reek of privilege and elitism. I mean new hire admins 22 vs new hire faculty 0 – that reeks big time.

    To me its simple. If say student enrollment revenue is done by 30% then everyone ATB get’s an FTE reduction equivalent to that 30%. Of course, this is never gonna happen. ..

  5. Anonymous says:

    What exactly is our union advocating on our behalf in these negotiations? Maybe I missed a survey (not said with sarcasm)? I’m concerned that the bargaining has as its top mission to maintain Schill’s AAU goals – keep graduate student numbers up, support the sciences, …. Why don’t we cut all incoming GEs and new faculty? Why don’t we freeze all start-ups? Then, of course, there’s athletics. I honestly don’t recall being asked my preferences.

    If asked, I would support cutting everyone who isn’t here yet (incoming GEs and faculty). But, again, that would derail Schill’s (and other’s) goal of creating an elite institution.

    • Dog says:

      our graduate student “numbers” haven’t been “up” in a very long time – since at least the year 2000, the percentage of graduate students among the general student population has been near
      the bottom of all AAUs – then in 2008/9 with the Bean caused
      undergraduate surge enrollment, we were at the bottom and haven’t gone very far up since then.

      It has been a long time fallacy, specifically on the part of faculty outside the sciences, to believe that GE numbers are consistently going up because if increasing support in the Sciences. None of that is true.

      But don’t believe me, I am just a dog, you can find all this information on ir.uoregon.edu

      Once upon a time, grad student enrollment was very high in terms of percentages but has dropped precipitously.

      Some Highlights

      AY Graduates Undergraduates GS % of Total

      78-79 4568 11895 (4568)/(4568+11895) = 28%
      90-91 4123 14018 23%
      99-00 3290 13426 19%
      03-04 4048 15895 20%
      12-13 3762 20829 15% (!!)
      19-20 3712 18903 16%

      This is the hard reality of the actual data going back 40 years. This is most definitely NOT the trajectory of a Research University – and yet these number are never even discussed around here and hardly anybody knows about this trend.

      Wait a minute. I just made this all up, to serve an agenda …

      • Observer says:

        Keeping graduate student numbers up just so we can have one metric that supposedly contributes to prestige would be irresponsible, and egregiously irresponsible in an academic market in which more than 50% of PhDs are never hired into tenure-track jobs at all. It’s imperative that we think of the good of the students, and not just what their numbers can do to shore up the prestige of the institution. Arguably we are the most realistic and most ethical of the members of the AAU, as far as graduate student numbers are concerned — we are producing fewer post-graduates who will be burdened with debt and having paid the opportunity cost of spending years in grad school, and who will never get a longterm job in academia anyway. The unfortunate thing is that Schill & co. seem to believe that (apart from the law school) PhD students are the only desirable metric, and mere MA students are lowly and not worth bothering about. This is despite the fact that the UO has several programs in which an MA is essentially a terminal degree, and which lead to abundant jobs in other fields. But support for those programs is low, because they’re perceived as “non-academic” and therefore unprestigious — even though those students are the ones whose degrees are useful and profitable.

        • Dog says:

          Then of course, having a Knight Campus, which could triple our graduate student population would then be egregiously irresponsible??

          Its not the market that is the problem is that the UO has not branched out graduate programs to more marketable areas, we continue with the traditional department based approach, which I agree has its limitations.

          If we were to create new kinds of graduate programs in new kinds of research areas, well, we would become and innovative Research University … like the UO once was in the 1980s with the
          development of the research institutes.

    • CSN says:

      From observing the call on Friday, my understanding is that this isn’t normal “bargaining” per se, but is instead “negotiation” over a couple of key items which could be established in an MOU — the parties agreed to maintain the current contract overall for a year while uncertainty surrounding coronavirus (hopefully) resolves. The union talked primarily about three issues:

      1. Ensuring that career faculty get FTE assignments for AY21 that are roughly in line with their assignments for AY20 (“restoring” FTE).

      2. Minimizing the size of any potential salary cut for faculty in the event of revenue losses due to cuts in enrollment or state support, and obtaining some sort of role in financial decision making if the cuts are “too high.”

      3. Creating a system of “continued expectation of employment” for career faculty — not tenure per se but something that makes it harder for administrators to lay off or fire career faculty.

  6. Bee says:

    I loved the lines from Sinclair about the way that Provost betrayed Career faculty (which they did) and broke the trust. The anti-union smugness by Philips rings loud and clear with statements like, we aren’t telling you…