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Faculty & Classified Unions Bargain With Higher Ed

The eighth time’s a charm? The UO’s faculty union, United Academics at the University of Oregon (UAUO), enters its eighth scheduled bargaining session of the summer Thursday, Aug. 29. “We’ve made a lot of progress in a lot of areas, but we’ve got a few sticking points, as far as salary, faculty-shared governance and more job security for non-tenure track faculty,” says Ron Bramhall, a senior business instructor on the UAUO bargaining team. He says the administration and the faculty have worked out details regarding the hiring and promotion of faculty, and he’s looking to resolve salary and governance issues during the Aug. 29, Sept. 3 and Sept. 6 bargaining sessions.

Bramhall says raising faculty salaries is important because they’ve lagged over the past five years, and the UO needs to remain competitive with other institutions. Faculty pay has stagnated over the past five years, with average associate professor and instructor salary decreasing between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years.

“We’re not that far apart in actual dollars,” Bramhall says. UAUO is proposing a faculty salary increase of $20 million, or 15 percent, while the administration is proposing a faculty salary increase of $14 million, or 10.5 percent. According to the OUS June 2013 supplemental budget for 2012-13, the UO’s total operating budget was $865,513,412. The blog UO Matters reports that full professors at UO make about 82 percent of the average salary at other AAU public universities, associate professors 90 percent and assistant professors 89 percent.

Bramhall says that the budget reflects the administration’s priorities and decisions. “We decided we would have our own police force and that we would arm that police force,” he says. “The budget now reflects that decision.” In addition, UO’s general fund is paying $2 million for tutoring student athletes, an average of $4,000 per student athlete, a fraction of what’s available for the average student.

Retaining faculty input via the University Senate is also a priority for UAUO, but the administration has so far refused to codify that in the faculty’s contract. “When it’s working right and it’s working well, the University Senate serves in a system of checks and balances to make sure that faculty’s voice is heard on academics, curriculum, budgeting and those sorts of things,” Bramhall says.

Bramhall encourages supporters to attend the bargaining sessions, which are open to the public. “When the room’s full of our supporters, it really helps us make our case,” he says. Observe the meetings Aug. 29, Sept. 3 and Sept. 6 in Knight Library 122.