Bargaining update for March 14, 2024

Thanks to everyone who came out on Thursday for the bargaining session. Save the dates and keep showing up! Spring term bargaining sessions will be held on odd weeks from 12:30-3:30 in Chiles 125. In our first session after the break (April 4, 12:30-3:30 in Chiles 125) we will speak more specifically to the administration's salary proposal. We need you to be there to show the administration that faculty will not accept raises that signify an actual cut in pay for most, and that excludes large groups from the entire process.

The administration seems less concerned about solving actual problems our faculty members face and more concerned with simplifying managerial processes and insulating themselves from any real accountability.

As a prologue to their salary proposal, the administration presented on the state of the university's finances over the last few decades, lamented state disinvestment, and wrung their hands over the difficult financial position the University finds itself in. Many members of our bargaining team have been here for those aforementioned decades and witnessed unprecedented growth and record-breaking fundraising while hearing similar laments. Blaming funding cuts from the 90's to justify low salaries in 2024 suggests that the financial model for the university has not evolved to meet the challenges of today. The University cannot maintain an upward trajectory while paying administrators above average salaries and paying faculty significantly below our comparitors; if the administration wants UO to be a world-class university, then underpaying those whose scholarship and instruction make that happen is surely a losing strategy.

The Article 26: Salary proposed by administration allocated 3% a year to merit. Though this is not a historically low opener, it was still tone-deaf to the conversations we have had at the table. The proposal was troubling for a few key reasons. Not only are these percentages insufficient, but the merit process excludes large swaths of our bargaining unit (Pro Tem, Acting, Visiting, Retired, Postdocs not on the NIH scale, and Postbaccalaureate Scholars). The administration also seeks to prohibit grieving said merit determinations. This would do nothing to ease concerns regarding favoritism and bias in the process, whether implicit or explicit.

In Article 34: Caregiving the administration responded by crossing out nearly everything your bargaining team originally proposed. We proposed that instructional faculty be able to conduct their classes remotely when local school districts close during inclement weather and the University remains open. Despite not having  a solution to this problem (the only actual emergency the University has faced this year), they chose to eliminate our attempt at resolving such issues. They were also "not interested" in thinking about temporary remote possibilities for faculty members facing caregiving needs nor parking needs for faculty members at the end of pregnancy. We are interested in discussing these issues and will continue to bring them up at the table.

Your bargaining team presented Article 32: Leavesin which we propose a new bereavement leave of 10 days, attempt to clarify and improve the process for utilizing Oregon Paid Leave, codify teaching load when returning from long-term leaves, and extend qualifying situations to care of family members for certain leave to bring them into alignment with Oregon Paid Leave. We are also raising the conversation of a Donated Sick Leave Pool once again.

We responded to the administration's proposal in Article 41: No Strike, No Lockout in which they hope to strike language that protects faculty from being compelled to scab during a strike by another bargaining unit. We reasserted the existing language as well as our commitment to not facilitate strikebreaking by the administration. The University of Oregon is a unionized campus, and we will not be forced to replace the labor of striking workers in order for the university to undercut the bargaining power of our sister unions.

We also gave our counter proposal to Article 11: Release Time, in which the administration proposed cuts to the amount of release time given to union officers and restrictions on who can exercise their protected rights, which are guaranteed by law. Given that the administration justified the clawbacks because of the economic "burden" release time posed but then calculated that burden in an intentionally misleading manner, your bargaining team proposed a return to the status quo as well as a mandate that the faculty member determine whether the release will be used as a course release or for service.

Your bargaining team was especially excited to put our new article, entitled Researcher Support, on the table. In this article, we propose a bridge funding pool to support funding-contingent faculty between grants, a mandate that the University cover raises above what is maximally covered in grants in which raises are limited, as well as a provision that allows faculty members to initiate rewrites of job descriptions and an expansion of duties when needed.

Finally, in the Appendix on the American English Institute, we are proposing a pathway to salary increases for Affiliate Faculty, similar to that of Career Instructional faculty in the rest of the University. This is a small group of faculty who have been excluded from said opportunities despite having served the institution for years.

We appreciate the support from all who have taken the time to stop by and watch bargaining. This act of solidarity may seem small, but bargaining is less a logical process than a political one, and having faculty observe the difference between the pro-faculty solutions your bargaining team is putting on the table and those the administration is pushing to ease their own administrative burden provides a contrast of visions for the future of our university.

Come to bargaining on Thursday, March 4, 12:30-3:30 in Chiles 125 and help send the message that faculty will not accept real wage cuts simply because the administration has failed to deal with funding changes from 30 years ago. If faculty are expected to be uniformly excellent in all areas of our effort, surely we can demand the same from our administrators. Paying faculty significantly below the AAU average is not excellence, and it's time the administration looks inward and figures out how to run the university in a way that demonstrates the same standards of excellence that they hold us to.