5.4 Bargaining Update – Research Support Wins & More
UAOSU met with the administration bargaining team Monday, May 4 from 10-1 on Zoom. The administration brought three counterproposals including Compensation, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the agreed upon raises for 2020, and Research Support. They also presented a new MOU on potential salary reductions. The UAOSU team brought a counter-proposal on Benefits. We met again for a one hour session on May 7 from 3-4. The administration team presented a Letter of Agreement regarding the establishment of a joint committee to develop advisory recommendations to increase access to affordable child care.
Over these two sessions, we secured a significant win for research faculty by establishing contractually guaranteed annual bridge funding pools beginning in 2022. Aside from this important win, the two sessions focused largely on the administration’s proposal that UAOSU accept up to a 20% cut to total faculty salary and without any guarantee of protecting existing faculty positions. Find details in the full update that follows.
We meet again to bargain on Monday May 11, 10AM-1PM (Register Here). Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters. We are bargaining for an agreement that respects the voice & expertise of academic faculty and makes OSU a better place to work and learn. As we seek to wrap up this contract, your attendance shows that you expect a fair contract now.
We have made great gains in the course of negotiations and have almost reached an agreement with university administration. As we enter the final phases of negotiations on topics like Compensation, Benefits, Research Support and Family Leave, we can all play a role in showing our unity as we make our final push. We are sending email letters to President Ray, Provost Feser and the Board of Trustees letting them know that now is the time to reach a fair agreement with us.
Add your voice to the chorus and send a letter to OSU leadership telling them that it’s time to finalize a contract that values our commitment to students. The administration needs to hear from you — your message makes a difference!
The two MOUs proposed by the administration are the most contentious so we’ll begin our update there. At our April 27 session, UAOSU presented an MOU that would release the promised 2020 raises right away so that the merit assessments and required paperwork can be completed by the end of this academic year with faculty receiving their back pay in June. The administration’s counterproposal does not commit to a timeline for the payout of back pay which means that the receipt of those raises could be delayed indefinitely. Even more egregiously, the administration’s counterproposal would tie this agreement to their other MOU which asks UAOSU to agree to up to 20% wage cuts with no further negotiations. They are holding the agreed upon raises hostage in an attempt to get us to sign away our legal right to bargain over furloughs or salary cuts. Their proposal did not include any information about what might trigger the need for salary reductions, it did not include an end date to such reductions, nor, most importantly, did it provide guarantees that any savings from wage cuts would be used to preserve jobs and benefits. UAOSU recognizes that we face tough financial times, but we also believe that these kinds of decisions require transparency and ongoing faculty input. The majority of the session on May 7 was spent in discussion with the administration team trying to determine what assurances would be needed from us to prevent wholesale non-renewals of fixed-term faculty for next academic year. We have pledged to be good faith partners in on-going negotiations and realize that some salary cuts may be necessary in order to preserve jobs. However, we will not give them carte blanche to make whatever cuts they deem necessary and thus absolve the administration of their legal obligation to consult and negotiate with faculty over those potential cuts.
The administration’s latest counterproposal on Compensation includes protections sought by UAOSU that would tie merit increases more explicitly to evaluations of faculty performance as established with faculty input. Merit increases will rely on evaluations, rather than the sole discretion and assessment of unit heads. The administration will not commit to salary increases beyond 2020, even with the triggers proposed last time by UAOSU. They have agreed to a reopener to negotiate salaries for the 2022-2024 fiscal years when the financial situation of the university will be clearer. We continue to have disagreement over the protection of discretionary development funds. The administration will only commit to leaving those funds in the accounts of individual faculty members for the duration of the timeframe specified in writing when the funds were awarded. They have also promised that any development funds that are “swept” to address budget deficits will be restored as soon as the financial situation of the university improves. We continue to negotiate over minimum salaries. UAOSU seeks to set minimum salaries for promoted fixed-term faculty at ten percent above the minimum for their previous rank, effective September 2020. The administration wishes to delay that adjustment until 2023 which will create additional problems with salary compression between ranks. By our calculations, extending those salary minimums now would cost the university less than $15k annually in total. Given the size of OSU’s budget, even in a time of financial vulnerability, that amount seems inconsequential to the university but of great importance to the faculty members so affected.
On Research Support, the administration has agreed to UAOSU’s proposal to establish bridge funding for research faculty. While the amount they have committed to is less than ideal, this represents a significant gain for faculty. We continue to negotiate over the details of how this fund will be set up and administered. The administration has also agreed to our proposal to create a job exchange for Research Associates and Faculty Research Assistants which will make movement between jobs easier and eliminate the need for an outside search.
At this session, UAOSU brought back our Benefits proposal. We continue to push for the maintenance of current benefits and plans for the duration of the contract while the administration wants the option of leaving PERS and PEBB in favor of alternative, less costly plans. We have not yet reached agreement on the cost sharing for health insurance coverage of Postdoctoral Scholars and their families; health insurance for Postdoctoral Fellows; small stipends for remote faculty, and financial assistance for international faculty who face extra costs to be able to work at OSU.
Our next bargaining session is May 11. Among other topics, we will be returning to compensation and the MOUs presented by the administration. This is obviously an issue of great importance to OSU faculty, and we encourage you to attend and let the administration know that faculty are watching this process and demanding fair treatment and transparency.
Our website provides a table with links to all proposals exchanged in bargaining.
We appreciate your support. You can find a full calendar of bargaining sessions on our website.