One of the key pieces of bargaining the two parties left for resolution after bargaining was the administration’s proposed changes to Article 31 (Tenure Reduction Plan).
This message seeks to:
(1) clarify the proposal under consideration,
(2) foreground the eventual ratification vote and its effects,
(3) elicit feedback on your preferences and values in a brief survey, and
(4) invite you to informational sessions to discuss specific questions and concerns in real time.
At the close of our negotiations last June, the administration presented a new proposal to change the Tenure Reduction Program. Because we received this new proposal two days before the last planned bargaining session, our bargaining team felt strongly that we did not have enough input from our members to accept or reject the offer. We also did not have enough time to submit changes to the proposal. As a result, the administration and the union agreed to hold a separate vote on this proposal after the ratification of the Contract Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
According to the Implementation Agreement signed by UA and the administration, we are to either negotiate or simply vote on the administration's proposal by early January 2023. If we negotiate on TRP, both parties would sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would outline the agreed-upon changes to TRP. This MOU would need to be signed by December 31, 2022. In the absence of such an MOU, the administration’s proposal from June 15, 2022, would be put to a ratification vote of UAUO members during January 2023.
Proposed Changes to Article 31
First off, the article would be renamed from “Tenure Reduction Plan” to “Phased Retirement.” This change in title is meaningful, because the first two sections—new to the article—would apply to all bargaining unit faculty, not just tenure-track and tenured faculty. The two new sections, with explanations, are below:
- Section 1. Phased Retirement. The parties recognize that bargaining unit faculty members may wish to adjust their workload in the two years leading to retirement, and that individual faculty member and unit needs may vary. Any phased retirement proposal requested by a faculty member may not contravene other provisions of the collective bargaining agreement and is subject to written approval by the Office of the Provost.
Section 1 clarifies that all bargaining unit faculty may request adjustments to their workload during the final two years of employment before retirement. The adjustments should not only take into account the faculty member’s needs but the unit’s needs as well. The final authority for such adjustments lies with the Office of the Provost.
- Section 2. Retirement Incentives. The University may offer retirement incentives. The University shall consult with the Union before implementing any such incentives.
Section 2 affirms that the administration has the option to offer incentives to faculty members—tenured or otherwise—to encourage them to retire. This would be similar to the “buyout plan” the administration offered to employees in early 2021.
The more significant proposed changes to the article are its provisions on the Tenure Reduction Program (TRP) extended to tenured faculty nearing retirement.
Currently, tenured faculty who enter into TRP have two options:
- Tenure Reduction Option: Faculty announce their retirement and get approval from the administration up to three years before their retirement. They receive a 6% raise, and have up to a five-year period of reduced duties (0.33 FTE for 9-month faculty, 0.25 FTE for 12-month faculty) paid according to their relevant base salary (as augmented by the 6% raise).
- Tenure Relinquishment Option: Faculty sign up for tenure relinquishment between one term and three years in advance, and receive a 6% raise beginning the next term after signing up for this option. By default, the work until the relinquishment date would be at 1.0 FTE, with no guarantee of work assignments post retirement.
The core of the administration’s proposal is to sunset the tenure reduction option and enhance the tenure relinquishment option:
- Faculty could sign up for the Tenure Reduction Option until January 1, 2024 (per Implementation Agreement #7), but not after that.
- The Tenure Relinquishment Option would come with an 8% raise instead of a 6% raise but would otherwise remain the same.
Under both the current system and the proposed new system, faculty would receive any merit or across-the-board raises distributed while working during their TRP period (whether that be the tenure reduction option or the tenure relinquishment option).
Although initiating the tenure reduction option would no longer be possible after January 1, 2024, Section 1 would still provide for the continued possibility for phased retirements during the last two years of employment on a case-by-case basis. While approved reductions in workload would likely not be accompanied by a raise, there is potential for greater flexibility in the scope of the reduced duties than exists with the Tenure Reduction Option.
There will be a ratification vote in January 2023 to decide whether to accept the administration’s proposed changes to Article 31 or—possibly—an MOU for an updated proposal for Article 31 if one is crafted before the end of the calendar year.
Should the ratification vote fail, Article 31 would remain in place, including the current TRP system and both options. That said, in that scenario we would fully anticipate that the administration would reopen the Article 31 during the next round of CBA negotiations (in 2024) to further discuss possible changes to TRP and related issues.
Since the proposed changes potentially affect bargaining unit members beyond tenure-track and tenured faculty, all current members of UAUO would participate in the ratification vote (i.e., anyone in the bargaining unit who has signed a card to join UAUO and is paying dues as of January 2023).
We want to know what you think, how you’re feeling, and what you’re worried about (or excited about!) as we collectively take our next steps on Article 31 and TRP, whether that be exploring the possibility of an MOU with tweaked language or messaging in advance of January’s ratification vote.
While there are more questions for tenure-track and tenured faculty regarding TRP, all UAUO members are invited to take the survey.
During Week 7 and Week 8 we will hold informational sessions to present some relevant numbers to consider and field any of your questions or concerns in real time. There will be both multiple in-person sessions at the new UAUO office as well as multiple standalone sessions on Zoom:
- 9:00 – 10:00am on Thursday, Nov 10, on Zoom
- 5:00 – 6:00pm on Thursday, Nov 10, at the UAUO office (603 E 13th Avenue)
- 10:00 – 11:00am on Tuesday, Nov 15, at the UAUO office (603 E 13th Avenue)
- 4:00 – 5:00pm on Tuesday, Nov 15, on Zoom
- 2:00 – 3:00pm on Thursday, Nov 17, at the UAUO office (603 E 13th Avenue)
- 4:00 – 5:00pm on Friday, Nov 18, on Zoom
We look forward to hearing from you through the survey questions and/or at the informational sessions over the following weeks.
Thanks for your time and attention.
Senior Instructor, Economics
President, United Academics of the University of Oregon
AAUP/AFT Local 3209, AFL-CIO