I’m writing today to share some key information about recent bargaining proposals—namely, what our compensation proposal costs and why, as well as why we rejected senior administration’s workload and benefits package. (As you may recall, senior administration presented their workload and benefits proposals in a linked package, which means that we would have had to accept both proposals unchanged.)
Also, please note that we will have an informal drop-in session for you to ask more questions about our current progress on Tuesday, 3/9/2021 at 2 pm; stay tuned for a Zoom link.
How much does our compensation proposal cost and why?
Our compensation proposal will cost approximately $2.5 million for initial implementation and is based on a formula to get our faculty salaries closer to market and make adjustments to address internal salaries inequities.. To put that in perspective, since 2018, faculty have received no COLAs or market-driven salary increases; in contrast, since 2018, senior administration have received an additional $2.2 million, as evidenced by the Oregon Tech annual financial reports.
Oregon Tech faculty have been severely underpaid for years, and this proposal aims to close the gap between what our faculty earn and what our faculty peers at other institutions earn. Our proposal is, in effect, COLA and back pay for approximately 158 faculty.
To keep this compensation plan relevant after the initial implementation, we are also asking that our faculty compensation be compared annually to national data and updated accordingly, ensuring that we remain at—or, at least, near—market rates. Our plan would also help ensure that base salaries are fair, thereby increasing faculty recruitment and retention rates. We anticipate the adjustments for the second and third year of our contract to be closer to $500k.
Why did we reject senior administration’s workload proposal?
The primary reason we rejected senior administration’s workload proposal is that it gave the provost unilateral authority to change workload in the future without bargaining. In other words, the provost would be empowered to do exactly what happened last summer: The provost could change faculty workload in ways that deeply affect faculty lives without meaningful faculty participation in the process. (Their proposal would allow OT-AAUP to give input but not to shape or bargain over changes.) This is a huge problem for faculty and shared governance.
Another reason we rejected senior’s administration’s workload proposal is that it did not take into account the non-instructional work faculty do, including advising, that is critical to student retention and success. Faculty take this work very seriously, yet this is not reflected in senior administration’s proposal.
Why did we reject senior administration’s health benefits proposal?
The primary reason we rejected senior administration’s benefit proposal—on top of the fact that they made it contingent on us accepting their problematic workload proposal—was that, while their proposal seemingly promised continuation of the 95/5 split on employer/employee premium contributions for one year, it would require faculty to absorb any cost increases of over 2% to premiums.
In other words, since health-care premiums almost always increase more than 2% each year, we as faculty could expect to be paying extra for health care every year under senior admin’s proposal.
Additionally, as we’ve mentioned before, senior administration’s proposal allowed them to change our health coverage every year, potentially for cheaper, inferior coverage, again without meaningful faculty participation in those decisions.
I hope this run-down of recent proposals on compensation, workload, and benefits helps you understand where things stand with bargaining. We anticipate that senior administration may send out misleading messaging around these proposals; in the face of that, please remember that, as ever, our faculty team is continuing to work hard to achieve a fair contract on your behalf. We will have an informal drop-in session for you to ask more questions about our current progress on Tuesday, 3/9/2021 at 2 pm; stay tuned for a Zoom link.
Kari Lundgren, OT-AAUP Secretary
On behalf of the OT-AAUP Executive Committee