UO administrators are paid competitively, why aren’t faculty?

The United Academics bargaining team had another productive session at the table last Thursday.  Your team presented its salary counter with some very minor movement on United Academic's part.  The administration had proposed three years of merit raises of 3 percent each year, which would exclude hundreds of our bargaining unit members from raises over the course of the contract.  In addition to merit raises, we reasserted our language with across-the-board and equity raises, and proposed a total of 9.18% increases every year through a combination of these approaches.  With this increase, faculty salaries, which currently sit at 84% of our AAUP comparators, would reach the level of upper administration salaries, who happen to make 99.4% of those same comparators.

As we explained in our first conversation regarding salary, our initial proposal did not represent an unrealistic ask, but rather a tangible goal of bringing our faculty up to the average of our comparators.  Our salary proposal is based on an economic analysis of current faculty salaries, the budget of the university, and the investment in faculty necessary to keep the UO a competitive AAU institution. We decided to eschew the usual time-wasting back-and-forth game theory and present a package that was realistic, well thought out, and achievable within the budgetary constraints of the university. We will not back down on our salary demands and will continue to ask the administration to only bring serious salary proposals to the table that actually address faculty needs, cover all faculty in the bargaining unit, address inflation, and bring our salaries to the (mere) average of our comparators. This is not a situation where we will meet the administration halfway to their economic package – even if we need to demonstrate the full power of United Academics to make our case.

In other articles, your bargaining team proposed expanding percentages of salary for sabbaticals of one or two terms and increasing transparency regarding professional development funds. We pushed back against clawbacks for course releases for union officers and reasserted language that compels the Office of the Provost to explain overriding review decisions at lower levels.  Once again, we pressed that the tuition benefit be expanded to 16 credits and that faculty who have served the University of Oregon for more than 20 years be granted a tuition waiver for one child if they have departed the University in good standing.  Finally, we argued for flexibility in remote work for faculty in particular caregiving situations.

The administration made several proposals as well.  They seek to simplify the way a Career faculty member becomes a Distinguished Teaching Professor.  We are happy to explore this idea, though we will work to retain certain benefits of this program, such as the stipend.

We still are having difficulty coming to an agreement on the matter of policy notification.  We strongly believe that faculty should be proactively notified of any policy that affects their working conditions, regardless of its origin.  We have also proposed various measures to combat the increasing adjunctification of our bargaining unit, and have yet to come to an agreement on any of the safeguards that your bargaining team has proposed.

However, we did make some movement on several other fronts.  We made some progress on issues of review and promotion, and hope that we can continue to streamline these processes and increase transparency.  Though we were disappointed that the administration rejected our new article, Researcher Support, they did make an effort to address some matters particular to this segment of our unit through provisions in other articles.  We will continue to press for better security and funding mechanisms for our research colleagues through a dedicated article.

Of course, none of this will happen unless the administration sees that our faculty support the provisions we are fighting for.  Make sure to mark your calendars for the next sessions....