UO and UA reach agreement on key issues
Through a period of limited bargaining, the university and United Academics have reached an agreement on career faculty FTE for AY 20-21, a progressive pay reduction plan, and a tentative agreement on an expectation of continued employment for our career faculty.
Reaching agreement with United Academics is of critical importance to the university as we prepare for a period of financial uncertainty greater than any of us has ever experienced. Faculty are fundamental to the UO mission to be a public research university committed to exceptional teaching, discovery, and service. Now that this agreement has been reached, we look forward to turning our collective attention to planning for fall term instruction and pursuing research opportunities.
Career Faculty FTE Restoration and Progressive Pay Reduction Memorandum of Understanding
A new Memorandum of Understanding has been ratified by UA membership and signed by both parties on August 12, 2020. It includes the following:
- Career Instruction FTE for AY 20-21 will be Increased to AY 19-20 Levels.
Career instructional faculty, who initially received conservative FTE contracts through the spring 2020 renewal or promotion process will have their AY 20-21 FTE restored to their AY 19-20 levels. As soon as the agreement is finalized and approved by bargaining unit members, impacted faculty will receive an email notice of these increases.
As background, due to continued uncertainty around enrollment for academic year 20-21, some career instructional faculty were initially offered conservative FTE for AY 20-21 – with the goal of increasing fall term FTE once we have more enrollment information. While these uncertainties still exist, with the implementation of a progressive pay reduction plan, the parties have agreed to increase career instructional FTE for AY 20-21 to AY 19-20 levels. If we should sustain a decline in enrollment in the coming year, those with extra capacity will be quickly reassigned through department, school, or central processes to perform other functions.
- A Progressive Pay Reduction Plan (PPR).
The parties have agreed on a progressive pay reduction plan that can be triggered over fall term (November 15, 2020) or in the summer 2021 based on losses in enrollment and decreases in state funding. The plan allows for the saving of up to $20M from salaries. Represented faculty will pay a pro rata portion of that amount based on an agreed upon model that protects employees who make less than $45,000. The model is progressive, increasing salary cuts for higher wage earners up to a top rate of 18%. The university can only trigger the plan one time for one, twelve-month period, if necessary.
The university does not take a pay reduction program lightly and recognizes that triggering of such a program will cause impacts for all those who experience reduced pay. At the same time having it in place as an option provides important stability for us to carry forward as we look at our long-term mission as a university. It is important to note that all salaries will remain at their current levels until the progressive pay reduction is triggered and returned to their previous levels at the end of the twelve-month period. It is also important to highlight that the plan may not ever be triggered. We are proud of the work the entire University community is doing to avoid the need for these reductions as we plan for the support, retention, and recruitment of our students.
Research category appointments (research assistant, research associate, research professors, post docs, research scientist, research engineer, and principal research scientist) are excluded from the PPR plan.
Career Faculty Employment Memorandum of Understanding
UO and UA have reached a tentative agreement regarding career faculty employment, which is subject to a ratification vote by represented faculty and isnot final until that vote takes place. The core terms of the tentative agreement areas follows:
Strengthening career faculty employment at the university by moving to an expectation of continued employment.
Career faculty are an important part of our teaching mission and campus community, and we are excited to announce that we are moving towards a system of an expectation of continued employment with defined notice periods and away from a system of contracts with fixed end dates.
As was the case this year, the current contract system for non-funding contingent career faculty disproportionately impacts career faculty whose contracts are up for renewal in years where the university is experiencing financial stress. That means that historically, layoff decisions could not fully account for important factors like performance or rank. The parties were able to reach agreement on key principles that will address this issue and collectively move the university away from its current system of contracts that expire at a set point and towards an expectation of continued employment for our career faculty. These principles include notice periods for all career non-funding contingent faculty, with promoted faculty receiving a year’s notice prior to any employment action (layoff due to a financial or academic reason, for example), an expedited arbitration process for complaints associated with employment actions, and a guarantee that career faculty who have been laid off will receive the same FTE if they are rehired within a two-year period. The parties will meet in a small workgroup in the coming months to develop CBA language that incorporates these principles.
This new system goes into effect June 15, 2021. Given the unique characteristics of funding-contingent career faculty positions, their employment will not be impacted by these changes.
UO and United academics agreed to a contract extension
Like many of the university’s functions, bargaining between the university and UA has been impacted by COVID-19 and the related stay-at-home-orders. Not only did COVID-19 impact the parties’ bargaining process, it impacted the university’s ability to predict and understand its state appropriations and enrollment position next year. State appropriations and tuition are the university’s two biggest sources of revenue. Decreases to those two sources significantly impact the university’s financial position.
Given those uncertainties, the parties have been working over the last month on possible solutions, including discussions regarding a progressive pay reduction plan and an extension of the collective bargaining agreement.
We are pleased to announce that the University of Oregon and United Academics have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides for a one-year extension of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and a one-year extension of the career faculty contracts that are up for renewal this May. We thank our faculty and the union for voting to support this agreement and for their partnership throughout this process.
University negotiations with United Academics are based on the following principles:
- Commitment to faculty support and recognition
Recognize and support faculty and their roles related to student education, experience, and research. Provide fair and competitive compensation and benefits to attract and retain faculty.
- Equity, diversity, and inclusion
Promote equity, diversity, and inclusion through intentional efforts and fair participation.
- Responsible stewardship of public funds and tuition dollars
Be good stewards of tuition and taxpayer dollars by allocating resources responsibly.
- Commitment of good faith
Work in good faith throughout the negotiation process to achieve an agreement that best meets the needs of our faculty and the entire university. Create a space during negotiations for open, collaborative and interest-based conversations and creative solutions
Respect the role and the rights of each party during these negotiations, as well as the role of other stakeholders on campus.
Provide factual information and periodic updates to keep key stakeholders apprised, engaged, and informed.