We would like to begin this week’s update by thanking Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration, for her presentation at Friday’s bargaining session. Jamie presented a wealth of information that will inform our bargaining in the coming months. A small group from the bargaining team had the opportunity to meet with Jamie last month to discuss what kind of information we thought would be helpful to have presented, and we appreciate that she focused on the areas we had discussed in that meeting.
Even so, the administration’s economic proposal was insulting. They are offering faculty no raise at all next year and less than 1% merit raise in 2016-2017. The administration also proposed that deans would control 20% of the merit raise and could distribute it at their “sole discretion,” which means that faculty may not even see the full 1%. In contrast, our proposal would provide raises to address the rising cost of living, reward meritorious teaching, research, and service, and address our ongoing equity problem. The administration’s proposal accomplishes none of these things.
Here’s why the administration’s proposal is unacceptable.
First, their proposal does nothing to keep pace with the cost of living. The Bureau of Labor Statistics measured the increase in the consumer price index for our region at 2.4% last year. The annual cost of living increase has averaged 2.28% since 2010. At that average, faculty need 4.56% raises just to keep up with inflation.
Second, a 1% merit raise in the second year does not adequately reward merit or recognize excellence. Worse, it further erodes the autonomy of departments in assessing merit.
Third, their proposal addresses neither our internal nor our external equity issues. While some departments and units have caught up to their comparators across the country, others lag far behind. Compression and inversion still bedevil many departments and units, and Hthe administration’s proposal would only exacerbate these problems. The administration’s proposal also ignores our ongoing gender equity problem.
For most faculty, the administration’s proposal would amount to a pay cut. Overall, it would cause the University of Oregon to fall further behind our comparators. According to their own data, our AAU peers are averaging 3-4% raises every year. A two-year period with a 1% raise will leave us 5-7% behind our comparators when we are next at the table.
We have been saying for months now that budgets reflect priorities. During her presentation, Jamie Moffitt said several times that investing in the people who make the university great is a top priority for the administration. This is what makes the administration’s proposal befuddling. If there is one thing their proposal does not do, it is invest in faculty.
Bargaining can be a long, difficult process. It does not have to be that way, but apparently “long and difficult” is the road the administration has chosen to travel.