Faculty members receive pay restoration

After five months of receiving pay decreases, the PSU faculty have had their 2009 salaries restored.

After five months of receiving pay decreases, the PSU faculty have had their 2009 salaries restored.

The American Association of University Professors is the faculty union at PSU that negotiated the contract change; 97 percent of voters voted in favor of ratifying the agreement that restored the salaries. Michele Gamburd, vice president of collective bargaining for AAUP and a professor of anthropology, said members were notified on April 20.

“The PSU-AAUP bargaining team is pleased that we were able, at the bargaining table, to get salaries restored as of April 1 to their September 2009 levels,” Gamburd said.

Wording in the original contract left the door open for either party—AAUP, PSU or PSU’s administration—to request reopening the contract by March 31, 2010 to revisit faculty pay. Gamburd said that PSU wanted to bargain with a worst-case financial situation in mind in case Measures 66 and 67 did not pass, or if there was no increase in enrollment.

Though they ultimately passed, “If those measures failed we would have had a second round of cuts,” Gamburd said.

The university does not allow for enrollment increases to be considered for bargaining, according to Gamburd. It creates a cushion for the university to consider the worst financial outlook.

Faculty members received pay cuts because, in early 2009, Oregon’s dismal state budget forced all state agencies to make budget cuts. 

According to Phil Lesch, executive director of AAUP at PSU, Governor Ted Kulongoski asked all state employees to decrease their budgets by 4.6 percent.

“Bargaining agencies across the state took a cut,” Lesch said.

The Letter of Agreement 4 in the AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement for Sept. 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2011 states that, in the event of better-than-projected financial conditions at PSU, faculty salaries will be restored to 2009 levels.

Because there has been a 7 percent increase in enrollment, the university has roughly $7 million that was not accounted for in the budget. According to Gamburd, a 1 percent increase in enrollment translates to about $1 million. Once enrollment increases over 3.6 percent, 30 percent of anything over that automatically goes to financial aid.

In addition to the faculty pay “snap back,” the reopener agreement also allocates $1 million to several venues on campus that improve working conditions and university welfare, Gamburd said.

 “We are currently finalizing details on how to disburse these funds,” she said. “We finished bargaining in September but it takes a while to ratify the agreement.”

Once faculty members voted, human resources had to work out the payroll details. As a result, faculty pay decreases began Nov. 1 and continued until April 1, according to Gamburd.

 “The administration was very firm that faculty not receive a raise at a time when so many people are out of work,” she said.

Some faculty members who are not part of AAUP are also returning to 2009 salaries, including department chairs, according to Gamburd. However, deans and other executives above department chairs are not being restored to 2009 levels.

Next year PSU-AAUP and the administration will begin negotiations for the 2011–13 contract.

“It is better to begin negotiations in 2011 from this position than from a position of ongoing salary reductions,” Gamburd said.

Bargaining will begin in March 2011, where both the AAUP and the administration will open articles for discussion, she said.

“If [the article that dictates faculty salary] gets opened, and presumably it will,” Gamburd said, “then we will discuss compensation issues in light of the Oregon state budget, enrollment growth and other campus budgetary considerations.”

How will the $1 million be disbursed?
The reopener agreement allocated $1 million to:
– $400,000 one-time support to the library
– $200,000 toward computing (computers and software)
– $200,000 toward faculty travel
– $200,000 toward professional development