During the 2014-15 Academic Year, United Academics will enter into negotiations with the UO administration on its second Collective Bargaining Agreement. United Academics was formed on the premise that a productive faculty, supported by competitive salaries, a strong voice in governance and working conditions that encourage excellence, is the surest path to elevating the academic distinction of the University of Oregon. Our first contract was an important first step in that direction but we aren’t yet where we need to be. The following bargaining platform is based on conversations with faculty across campus and reflects our ongoing commitment to strengthening the University of Oregon by strengthening the faculty.
- Faculty salaries: We must continue to calibrate faculty salaries both externally with our comparators and internally within departments. Our last Agreement, with across-the-board, merit, and equity raises, was very positive start, but there is still work to be done. We will work to implement the merit policies that faculty have developed over the past year, and we will also work to extend the equity pool to cover all faculty, including the Tenure-Track, NTTF Instructors, Officers of Research, and Librarians. We will emphasize equity raises to ensure that we make progress in catching up to our comparator institutions, to fulfill the promise of the 2000 Senate White Paper on Faculty Salaries and former President Lariviere’s 2011 plan.
- Faculty support: The University must do more to provide support for new hires at all ranks. For too long, we have lost good colleagues to other universities, partly because we have no clear or comprehensive system of mentorship, for transitioning from graduate school to academia, or addressing conflictual moments at work. We must have a program to improve diversity and mentorship for underrepresented faculty. We will seek to work with the university to find ways to enhance the programs we have and build new programs to strengthen our faculty resources.
- Child care & Elder care: One of the biggest challenges our faculty face is finding a way to balance academic life and home life. The university makes this challenge more difficult when it makes almost no child care resources available for faculty. We have no resources for taking care of elderly parents and relatives. We can improve these important work-life balance problems if we have a willing bargaining partner across the table.
- COLA: During our last round of negotiations, we were able to secure an average raise package of 11.5% over two years. We must consolidate these important gains by bargaining a regular and adequate cost-of-living adjustment. Without an adequate COLA, the impact of our raises will be lost to inflation and we will fall further behind our comparators.
- NTTF job stability: Our excitement over securing longer-term contracts for Career NTTF was mitigated somewhat by our failure to win the expectation of continued employment. Simply put, we believe that Career faculty have the right to expect to continued to be employed by the university unless there are problems with their performance, funding for their position, or a change to the programmatic structure of the department. The university asks faculty to invest themselves and their careers in the teaching and research program of the university, and we believe that the university owes the faculty a similar commitment.
- Contract dates: The Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for all Career NTTF not on funding-contingent contracts to receive notice of renewal or non-renewal by May 1. We did not, however, specify a date by which faculty should receive their actual employment contracts. We must fix this oversight so that faculty know at least their salary and FTE for the coming academic year and can plan accordingly.
- Bridge benefits: Currently, faculty who teach only two, non-consecutive terms during the academic year do not retain their benefits, particularly their health care benefits, for the terms in which they are not working. This impacts our some of our NTT faculty as well as some of our Tenure Reduction Program faculty. We intend to bargain for “bridge benefits” for faculty with guaranteed contracts during non-consecutive terms.
- Benefit stability: We will work to stop the erosion of the hard-won benefits we currently have.
Transparency & Voice
- NTTF contracts: We will work to further clarify employment contracts for non-tenure-track faculty. It is our goal to provide NTTF with their information they need to know to plan their working life at the university.
- Administrative review: As we continue to incorporate the voices of all faculty into the governance structures of the university, we will seek to craft a mechanism for faculty feedback on administrator performance. We believe that frequent evaluation will provide valuable feedback that will identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement, just as with faculty performance.
- Faculty voice in RIGE: The Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation is a vital part of our research university. This office has undergone several periods of transition over the past decade, but continues to operate without visible faculty input. We will propose a faculty advisory panel to help improve the functioning of this important office.
- Intellectual property: We must clarify and develop coherent and comprehensive policies for intellectual property and online classes that enhance research and instruction while securing faculty rights.
- Faculty participation in budget development: Faculty in all classifications must have a role to play in developing faculty budgets, so that we can ensure that funds are directed to supporting the research and education mission of the university.
We will continue to encourage the university to prioritize items that enhance the worklife of faculty and advance our mission of providing excellent undergraduate and graduate education and performing world-class research.
We must continue to bring our salaries into line with our comparators so that we can recruit and retain high-quality faculty.
We must provide support for our new hires and find ways to integrate new colleagues into the university while also seeking to shape the university to reflect their unique skills and experiences.
We must recognize that our faculty give their careers and live their lives at the University of Oregon. Helping the faculty to be productive both on and off campus is essential to maintaining excellence.
We must regularize employment for the non-tenure-track faculty by ensuring that if there is money to employ them, and they continue to be a valuable member of the university, then they will continue to be employed by the university.
We must develop a coherent, sensible intellectual property policy that allows faculty the freedom to explore new ideas, develop new products, and find new ways to teach students without the fear that their work will be taken from them.
We must work to ensure that the university lives up to its mission by putting research and education above all else, establishing a framework for lifelong learning that leads to productive careers and to a lasting intellectual curiosity.