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Faculty Union begins prep for fall strike

Strike Next Year?

While we are making good progress on non-economic articles at the bargaining table, the administration has made only minor movements towards our salary needs. Soon we will send another message about the very real possibility of a strike next academic year. Many steps must be taken before such an action can happen, but the raises on offer from the administration are nowhere near enough to fight inflation and keep us up with our peers. Keep an eye on your inbox for more messaging around potential strike preparations, and what United Academics members will need to do to win this fight.

What you can do now:

Spring Picnic

Come to the UA Spring Picnic and discuss strategy for winning a fair contract with fair wages. We will also do some sign making to remind the administration’s bargaining team what is at stake. We will have snacks and beverages (alcoholic and non) as well as picnic games and activities for the littles. Bring your family and colleagues, and come to get your questions answered and concerns aired about where we are in bargaining.

When: Thursday, May 30, from 4 to 7 pm
Where: Alton Baker Park Shelter #2
What to bring: You, family members, colleagues, and friendly dogs!

We’ll provide snacks, beverages (alcoholic and non-), and a few lawn games. So, mark your calendars for the United Academics Spring Picnic! We look forward to seeing you.

Last Bargaining Session of the Academic Year

The last bargaining session of Spring quarter will be Thursday, June 13, 12:30-3:30pm in Chiles 125. While we will continue bargaining all summer, this session is our last opportunity of the term to impress upon the administration the economic burden that years of inflation and the institution’s poor financial management have had on the university and our faculty. A big turnout will send a message that fair raises are not optional, nor at the whim of a financial bucket system that is incapable of observing and adjusting for inflation and market conditions.


  1. honest Uncle Bernie 05/30/2024

    A strike by the faculty. Great idea, destroy the place. OSU will love it.

    • Powerball 05/31/2024

      HUB, what do you expect faculty to do? Just sit there and take it?

    • Chris Sinclair 06/13/2024

      I’m more concerned about the economic woes of faculty at UO than I am about whatever they’ll say in Corvallis.

      Faculty at Rutgers had a strike this year. Rutgers wasn’t destroyed and their faculty won significant raises. However, if you are really concerned that a strike might somehow destroy the UO, use whatever influence you have to get the President to pay us competitive wages and help us avert a strike!

  2. honest Uncle Bernie 06/01/2024

    In the first place, my comment stands. A strike would be the height of lunacy. It would do untold damage. Kiss a lot of students goodbye.
    Forget about public support. Even a serious threat of a strike would leave a very bad aroma. Many years ago, the Eugene public schools had a teacher strike. I’m not sure that they have ever really recovered from that. Higher education is not exactly looked upon favorably these days. The notion of professors striking with tenure, health insurance, and PERS wil be hilarious to many people, if they are not simply infuriated. Just don’t go there.

    What do I suggest instead? Well, I’m told that many years ago there was a serious effort to raise faculty salaries, involving both faculty and administration. I’d suggest going back and digging up the relevant documents. Surely the Faculty Senate, or UO Senate now, has the records. Both the planning, and why the effort petered out probably good things to learn about.

    What to do now? Dig up financial information about UO and propose realistic solutions. You can go to UO Institutional Research and look at revenues and expenditures. Are the data up to date? Hah! Take a look. They are if you consider FY 2021 as up to date. I hope whoever is working these negotiations had better info than that.

    What is the big picture of unrestricted funds? What is the big picture of academic expenditures? Start there, and work forward. Make a plan. Present plans.

    Don’t include an expensive vacation aka strike as part of the plan. You’re off to a good start. Remember, a buck for us is probably a buck taken away from someone else, and vice-versa, unless you figure out a way to expand the money pie.

    Maybe the administration and the union are already doing this. If they are, nobody should be talking about a strike. I’m not privy to the negotiations. I have no idea what is really going on. Does the UO Senate play a role any more? Or is it all the union?

    Anyhow, I realize things are not going well. Ask President Biden about inflation. Don’t ask Paul Krugman. I wish you luck.

    Don’t even think about a strike!

    • finally ready 06/03/2024

      I’ve been at the UO for over ten years and in this period of time I’ve always thought of faculty strikes the same way as hUB, so I’ve always opposed them. Until very recently. The reason goes beyond the loss of purchasing power (which, of course, it’s considerable). The consequences of low wages are being felt in our inability to retain colleagues, our difficulty in hiring excellent researchers, the overall decline in people’s willingness to get over the usual UO crap. Raising salaries is now, to me, the #1 short term issue, because without it we lose competitiveness and in the long run we lose great research that benefits our state.
      To raise salaries, we do need to change the university’s priorities. We need to cut administrative bloat, limit time-consuming and ill-thought out initiatives, focus on teaching and research, stop coddling students with ever-nicer amenities that go beyond their learning, limit the number of highly paid administrators, figure out how to extricate our sports from a costly rat race we are certain to lose in the long run. I do think that citizens are not angry with academia because of how much money professors make, but because they perceive a huge diversion of taxpayer money from research and teaching. (They are also angry about the amount of political meddling some faculty inject in their day to day activities of course, but that’s a different and tired story line).
      A strike can help clarify that not all is well within academia. We, the faculty, agree with the view that resources are misallocated. We don’t agree with the general direction of our admin overlords. The strike offers the possibility to tell the public that we agree over this. Of course, we run the risk of appearing greedy, and that must be avoided at all costs. Cooperating with the administrators to achieve faculty raises with cost cuts in academic admin ranks, cost cuts in bloated and time consuming initiatives, and focusing on research and teaching may help with this.
      So for the first time in my life, I’m ready for the strike, and ready for the court of public opinion. My support is not unconditional, but it’s based on the fact that the Union has a decent plan, put together a reasonable and thoughtful proposal, and will negotiate in the right ways, i.e., the health and mission of our university is paramount. I stopped believing the vision of our admins and look forward to a new vision that takes faculty well being into more serious consideration.

  3. Union Supporter 06/06/2024

    Uncle Bernie. That’s a lot of recommendations for someone who admits they don’t really know what’s going on. The administration has proven that they aren’t going to listen to reason. Also, no matter what happened during Fronhnmayer’s regime for a select few has no relation to current events.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 06/06/2024

      I would like to see salaries at healthy levels. I may not know what is going on with the current negotiations, but I can see the results since the union came along. How is that working out?

      My “recommendations” are pretty much essential if progress is to be made. How much money is needed? Where will it come from? In reality — somebody will have to pay somehow.

      Under Frohnmayer, the goal was not just a “select few” getting good raises. The goal was to raise the averages to normal levels. That requires widely shared increases, beyond a certain point.

      Apart from all this, I firmly believe a strike would do untold damage to the faculty.

      The present situation compared to 10 yesrs ago shows how much UO has decayed under Schols, Schill, and whoever preceded them.

      Good luck.

      • uomatters 06/06/2024

        Bernie, asking where the money’s going to come from is a fool’s game. Yes it has to come from somewhere, but the administration has all the knowledge and all the power to figure that out and make the necessary adjustments. Instead they’ve repeatedly shown that their priorities are paying themselves top dollar, pet initiatives that will pad out their own vitae, and hiring more administrators to make their life easier. Faculty pay is the residual. As for Frohnmayer, your belief in him would be touching, but I’ve already shown he was negotiating raises for himself while he was trying to get us to take pay cuts. At this point your continued reference to him looks to be faith-based.

        Schill did the same, collecting bonuses from the Board while he blackmailed us into accepting (potential) pay cuts by threatening mass layoffs during Covid. So far Scholz looks to be in the same mold – check his contract for his pay, perks, and bonus schedule – $100K at the end of next year, etc.

        The faculty voted to unionize because of this long history and the fear Uncle Phil’s new Board would back the administration instead of the faculty, as they’ve done.

        At this point the union is the only game in town. If you want raises you can give the union – and yourself – more power by joining:

        • honest Uncle Bernie 06/06/2024

          “the administration has all the knowledge and all the power.”

          Very well put, ceding all agency. No strategy, no ideas. Great!

          How are we doing? Union got going in 2013? I seem to remember a union related graph, sorry, can’t find. Showed UO salaries went from 94% to 80% in 2014 – 2023 best as I remember.

          How is this working?

          Go ahead, strike. OSU is waiting to take our students. A 5% hit to out of state enrollment will do wonders for salaries. Yeah, the admin will figure it out for us!

          • Keaton Miller 06/07/2024

            Hi Bernie!

            Saying that we have “no strategy, no ideas” is a little harsh. United Academics has put a clear proposal on the table to get average faculty salaries up to the average of their AAU public peers over a three year period. We conducted an analysis of the cost of the plan and found that all it would take is a return to the share of revenues that have been paid to faculty in the past. You can read more about our plan in the post I wrote here:

            I encourage you to come to bargaining next week Thursday from 12:30 to 3:30 to see how things go at the table! Sessions are open to the UO community.

  4. honest Uncle Bernie 06/12/2024

    Keaton, thanks, your link is to the post where I got the information I mentioned before. Remembered a bit errorneously by me, actually: UO salaries in your fourth figure have dropped from 94% to 86% in 2014-2022. I imagine the salaries are worse now. This is basically the period of the union. Not very good results, in my opinion!

    To me your key points are:

    “Historically, UO has spent over 30% of that fund on compensation for Tenure-Related and Career faculty (including benefits). In the last couple of years, thanks to growth in undergraduate enrollment and small raises, that fraction has dropped to around 27%. Assuming the E&G fund experiences only average growth over the next couple of years (i.e. no major increases in tuition, no major increases in state support), the UA proposal would increase that fraction to 34%.”

    I think the point about fraction of general budget going to TTF dropping from (a little) over 30% on average to 27% now is a great one to make in bargaining (and in outcome). One can certainly argue from recent budget trends that the “mission” of the university is education and is being neglected. Just keep in mind, getting back that 3% to get back to historical averages, will involve cutting something else. Student services? DEI? Mental health support for students? I’m not sure the Admin will be persuaded that more money for TTF salaries is more important than those other things.

    You then say that you want to get the relevant budget fraction from the historical 30% to 34%. That is going to be a very tough sell. The aforementioned interests will go from squealing to wanting to destroy you.

    A useful approach might be “growing the pie” rather than “cutting those other budgets.” An extra 500 out of state students, perhaps with another 500 Oregon students, might accomplish what you want, i.e. getting enough money to raise UO faculty salaries to decent levels. A collaborative relationship probably couldn’t produce worse results than the current adversarial relationship. I don’t know whether that is possible with the present cast of characters.

    I’ll say again, don’t strike, don’t. It might be a useful bargaining ploy, but only until it becomes a serious threat. An actual strike or even serious threat would turn off the public, drive away students, and piss off a legislature that has never liked UO anyway. It would be slitting your own throats. As Phil Knight might put it, “Just don’t do it!”

    • Keaton Miller 06/14/2024

      Hi Bernie —

      Thanks for your comments. You make a lot of interesting points, but unfortunately the conversation at the table is not yet at a place where we can have those discussions at all, let alone productively. Faculty have shown repeatedly in recent years that they are willing to make sacrifices for the good of the university. First we agreed to pay cuts to save jobs (even though those cuts turned out not to be necessary). Then we accepted raises that we projected would be lower than the level of inflation so that the university could have fiscal certainty in an uncertain time. In both cases, we made those deals trusting in conservative fiscal projections that anticipated disaster. That disaster never materialized, and so today trust in that same approach is diminished.

      Yesterday was the first time in several months of bargaining that the faculty received even a hint of acknowledgment that the administration shares our core value: that our university is at its best when faculty are fairly paid. It’s very hard to have conversations about ways and means (the bulk of your post) before we have come to any sort of agreement about what we’re trying to do.

      Ultimately, this is about the relationship between faculty and administration. That relationship has substantially deteriorated over time but we believe reconciliation and healing is possible and we are hopeful that the new leadership throughout the university is interested in changing that trajectory. It’s going to require effort from both sides and it won’t be free. As a “for instance,” we will have to figure out a way to rebuild trust in a financial model that right now feels to faculty like “heads admins win, tails faculty lose.”

      As for your concerns about a strike: I don’t know if your comments are directed at me or the membership more generally, but it’s important to remember that we are a very long way from that happening, and it would only occur if the membership votes to do it — strikes are not top down actions. From where I sit, the sense I get is that many faculty believe that the only way to earn better pay and working conditions is to use the power that is afforded to us by collective bargaining: that is, the power to withhold labor. This belief is strongly linked to the deterioration of the relationship which for many has become a disappointing distraction from our mission. Again, some repair work could change that conversation. I hear your worries about the impacts any labor action would have on other stakeholders. For many, I don’t think the concerns about student support or the legislature resonate. The sense I’ve heard is that students are more empathetic towards the faculty that teach their classes than towards anonymous administrators. Similarly, with respect to the legislature, the attitude I’ve heard is “well, if they already don’t like us and don’t fund the university very much, why should we care?”

      At the end of the day, though, those issues are not my focus. I’m on the bargaining team and we’re doing everything we can *at the table* to get an economic package that will allow our faculty to flourish and focus on our shared goals of impactful innovation, timely graduation, and career preparation. That package could take a lot of shapes — we are open to a lot of ways to meet the external market. What we won’t do is accept a plan that continues to lose ground relative to our comparators and relative to the cost of living in Eugene.

      Finally, if you are a faculty member, I encourage you to make your voice more formally heard as part of the union’s deliberations by coming to a meeting of the membership or coming to bargaining and chatting with me and the team after one of the sessions this summer.

    • Heaven_decafs 06/14/2024

      I recall everyone getting a big raise just before the faculty unionized. I didn’t know if that was because the university was trying to remove the justification for unionization (didn’t work), or because it wanted people to claim ten years later that salaries reverting to the mean was somehow the fault of the union (did work, apparently).

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