Back to the Future(?): The Administration Presents a “Give Back” Financial Package, Reminiscent of 2013/2014 Negotiations
Since negotiations for the 2016–2019 Collective Bargaining Agreement began on February 2, the parties have made steady progress on a range of non-economic contract Articles, tentatively agreeing to a range of modifications, some minor and others more substantive. On April 7, the UC Chapter AAUP Bargaining Team completed the presentation of its proposed financial package, including Article 10 (Compensation), Article 12 (Minimum Salaries), Article 13 (Overloads, Extra Compensation) and Article 16 (Medical, Dental, Life and Disability Insurance). The Chapter Bargaining Team received the Administration’s counterproposals on these Articles on Monday, May 9. To describe the Administration’s financial package as “profoundly disappointing” is an understatement.
It is difficult to read the Administration’s financial package as anything other than an expression of continuing deep contempt for UC faculty. “Continuing” contempt because, as in the 2013/14 negotiations, the Administration has again presented a financial package which would amount to a “give back” contract for most bargaining unit members, particularly those who prefer to remain in the Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO, referred to as the “Point of Service” plan in the current contract. While the Board of Trustees and President Ono shower UC faculty with praise in public settings, the Administration’s financial package shows the reality of how little regard and respect the Administration has for UC faculty.
The fact that the Administration has disinvested in academics for many years is no secret. The Administration’s proposed financial package would do nothing to ameliorate this situation. In light of the continued growth in student enrollment and revenues, as discussed below, the Administration’s financial package is outrageous. The Administration can do better—it simply chooses not to.
Here are brief summaries of the Chapter’s and the Administration’s proposals on Articles 10, 12, 13, and 16:
Article 10 (Compensation)
|UC CHAPTER AAUP PROPOSAL||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Across the Board||6.5%||6.5%||6.5%|
|Merit (distributed by Deans)||0.5%||0.5%||0.5%|
|Regional Campus Increases||3.0%||3.0%||3.0%|
|ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Across the Board||0.5%||0.5%||0.75%|
|Merit (distributed by Deans)||1.0%||1.25%||1.25%|
|Regional Campus Increases||0.5%||0.5%||0.5%|
Article 12 (Minimum Salaries)
|UC CHAPTER AAUP PROPOSAL||8% increase at each rank, implemented in Year 1|
|ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL||4% increase at each rank, implemented in Year 1|
Article 13 (Overloads, Extra Compensation)
|UC CHAPTER AAUP PROPOSAL||
|ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL||No increase|
Article 16 (Medical, Dental, Disability, and Life Insurance)
|UC CHAPTER AAUP PROPOSAL||PPO (POS in the current contract)
Single – 1.75% of base salary
Double – 2.45% of base salary
Family – 2.95% of base salary
|ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL||PPO (POS in the current contract)
Less than $60,000- 9%
$60,000 – $79,999,99 – 10%
$80,000-$99,999.99 – 11%
$100,000 or more – 12%
Year 1: $,1500/$5,000; $1,500/$4,500; $1,500/$4,000; $1,500/$3,000
Year 2: $1,500/$3,000; $1,000/$2,000; $750/$1,500; $500/$1,000
Year 3: $750/$1,500; $500/$1,000; $500/$1,000; $350/$700
The Big Picture
The chasm between the Chapter and the Administration goes beyond mere numbers. It reflects a fundamental philosophical difference. Whereas the Chapter’s proposals, if enacted, would actually realize the Administration’s professed intention to “invest in people,” the Administration’s financial package shows that these grand words are just empty platitudes. That the Administration would present such a package, in the face of the University’s robust growth in student enrollment and revenues over the past seven years, and following years of divestment in the University’s academic mission, is indefensible.
Since Fall 2008, the number of full-time equivalent students (FTEs) has grown from 29,593 to 34,421 in Fall 2015, a 16% increase. From Fiscal Year 2008-09 to Fiscal Year 2014-15, the University’s unrestricted funds grew from $855.4 million to $992.8 million, in inflation-adjusted dollars. This was a 16% percent increase, brought about in large part by a 39% jump in tuition revenues. Meanwhile, Administration managed to spend even less on Instruction, from unrestricted funds, in inflation-adjusted dollars, in FY15 than it did in FY09.
The impacts of this disinvestment are clear. The number of full-time faculty represented by the AAUP dropped from 1,775 in Academic Year 2008-09 to 1,660 in Academic Year 2015-16, a 6.4% decline. As a result, the full-time faculty to student FTE ratio has increased from 16:1 in Fall 2008 to nearly 21:1 in Fall 2015. The Administration’s inaction shows an indifference to the growing crisis in recruitment and retention of full-time faculty. Rather than direct resources back to Instruction, to make faculty salaries more competitive and to keep faculty here, the Administration instead is diverting funds to Institutional Support (which includes such units as Administration & Finance and the President’s Office) and to Athletics. Spending on Institutional Support grew by 34% from FY09 to FY15; support for Athletics more than doubled over this same time period, reaching $20.4 million by FY2015.
The Chapter’s Financial Proposals Explained
The Provost’s Office has identified 9 peer or aspirational institutions against which it benchmarks UC. These institutions are:
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Alabama
- Syracuse University
- University of Connecticut
- University of Houston
- University of Illinois at Chicago
- Temple University
- University of South Florida
- George Mason University
Data from the national AAUP’s “Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2014-2015” shows that average salaries for UC faculty at the rank of Associate Professor and Assistant Professor are at the very bottom of this list. Average salaries for UC faculty at the rank of Professor are second-to-last, exceeding only those at the University of South Florida by about $3,000—and trailing those of the next-highest institution, Syracuse University, by $11,000.
The Chapter designed its proposal so that, assuming that faculty at the peer and aspirational institutions received a 2% annual increase over the next three years, UC faculty salaries would be elevated into the top half of this group. This is what an investment in people should look like. This is how to make UC a destination point for potential recruits, and a place where faculty will want to stay.
Note that, although the reviews for the current merit system were mixed, at best, the Chapter opted to propose maintaining a small portion of compensation as merit, to be distributed by the Deans, and to remove the faculty-driven component which, though well-intentioned, has proven difficult to administer.
Finally, the Chapter’s proposal for a 3% increase per year for Regional Campus faculty (UC Clermont and UC Blue Ash) is consistent with the recommendation of the Regional Campus Salaries Committee, a joint AAUP-Administration body charged under the contract with studying and monitoring the salary structures at the regional campuses, particularly in comparison with regional campuses at other Ohio public institutions.
The Chapter not only proposed that there be no increase in contributions to the PPO, but also proposed that the coverage, including co-insurance and co-pays, revert to those that were in effect in the 2010-13 contract, and proposed as well a return to the more equitable “percent of salary” contribution method. The rationale for this is simple. Contrary to the projections made by the Administration’s consultant during the last round of negotiations, the University’s health care costs for faculty did not increase by 8-9% per year. In fact, they remained flat. Moreover, with the increase in faculty contributions in the previous contract, as well as somewhat higher co-insurance and co-pays, the University actually paid a smaller share for UC faculty health care in calendar year 2015 than it did in calendar year 2013. Given the University’s healthy financial standing and the relative stability of UC faculty health care costs, there is no reasonable basis that is consistent with the Administration’s supposed desire to attract and retain excellent faculty for increasing UC faculty’s health care cost burden.
The University’s Financial Package
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Administration is proposing salary increases that not only would leave UC faculty salaries at or near the bottom of their colleagues at the Provost’s peer/aspirational institutions, but would leave many faculty with annual increases that do not even keep pace with the cost of living. Moreover, the Administration’s proposed 0.5% annual increase for regional campus faculty would not meaningfully advance the goals of the Regional Campus Salaries Committee, which is concerned not only with parity with other regional campuses around the state, but also with achieving average salaries that are 90% of average Main Campus faculty salaries.
The Administration’s proposal on health insurance, however, is even worse. Despite the fact that the University’s costs for faculty health care have remained level for the past few years, the Administration is seeking dramatic increases in contributions, co-insurance, and co-pays for UC faculty in the PPO plan. This would not only wipe out any salary increases, but cause faculty to lose even more money. Clearly, the Administration is hoping that this will prompt more UC faculty to enroll in the High Deductible Health Plan. To be fair, the Administration has proposed significant changes to the High Deductible Health Plan, including annual contributions to Health Savings Accounts which would initially be quite large and then decline with each year. According to the Administration’s math, in Year 1, no faculty members enrolled in the HDHP would wind up paying more in premiums or out-of-pocket costs than he/she would under the current PPO, and would actually retain more money in their paychecks (this is not a salary increase, but it amounts to more money in the faculty members’ pockets, at least initially). By Year 3, it becomes increasingly possible for faculty to be paying more money under the HDHP than in the current PPO, as the Health Savings Accounts diminish (unless replenished out of the faculty member’s own funds). The Bargaining Team will continue to study the Administration’s HDHP proposal. However, the Bargaining Team recognizes that, regardless of what is ultimately decided upon with respect to the HDHP proposal, it is paramount that the PPO remain a high-quality and affordable option for faculty.
It bears mention that, although we are not negotiating the 2019-2022 contract, the Administration’s HDHP proposal begs the question of what its long-term intentions are with respect to faculty health care. The Administration would not be so eager to move UC faculty into the HDHP if it did not expect to realize a significant cost “savings” in the long run. This “savings” would inevitably come at the expense of UC faculty. It is impossible to conceive how this could possibly help UC to recruit and retain excellent faculty.
The negotiations in 2004, 2007, 2010, and in 2012 (for the semester conversion reopener) were characterized by a spirit of collegiality and creativity in problem-solving. While there were sometimes sharp disagreements, overall the parties operated under a common mission to improve the financial well-being and quality of life for UC faculty, for the mutual benefit of both UC faculty and the University. We had hoped that the aggressively negative posture toward faculty in the 2013/14 negotiations was simply an anomaly, a by-product of the instability resulting from major changes in upper Administration. Initially, the progress of negotiations for the 2016-19 contract gave us some cause for optimism, as we engaged in discussions and made steady progress on a number of noneconomic articles. However, the Administration’s financial package indicates that the 2013/14 negotiations may not have been an aberration, but rather a portent of things to come.
As I move closer to the start of my 19th year here at the Robert S. Marx Law Library, it is certainly a great honor to serve as President of the AAUP-UC Chapter. I look forward to working with you and I will do my best to improve the faculty position at UC.
I knew that the Chapter would be bargaining a new contract in my first year as President. I also remembered the difficult struggle in 2013-2014 for a fair contract, but I remained optimistic. This optimism was based in part on the tone and nature of President Ono’s recent remarks. I was fortunate to be able to attend the State of the University speech in April of 2016. It was quite an amazing showcase of the excellent work performed by the faculty here at the University. At the end of President Ono’s speech, he stated something equally amazing: “We will propel the University of Cincinnati into its next century, defined by the principle that people are our most important asset.” Just a few weeks later at the Faculty Awards ceremony, I was pleased to hear the President say “Today we celebrate and honor a group that we do no celebrate enough: our UC faculty, without them there would be no University.”
Unfortunately, as has often been the case here at UC, deeds do not match words. This became apparent when I learned of the economic proposal put forward by the administration during bargaining. In their proposal, inflationary increases are minimal, compression is eliminated, and regional campus salary increases are greatly reduced.
The Administration’s benefits proposal is equally dismal. For folks on the PPO, your employee contributions would increase each year of the contract, so that by year three most faculty members would be paying 50% more in contributions than at present. Faculty on the PPO would also see significant increases in co-insurance and co-pays. For those on the HDHP, you’ll also see co-insurance increases. The administration is proposing significant increases in contributions to the HSAs, but these contributions would decrease with each year, leaving me concerned whether the HDHP would be an affordable option for most faculty in the long term.
While many would like for the Chapter to view the Administration’s current overall compensation counterproposals in a vacuum, that would be a great disservice to the faculty at UC. In the last two contracts alone, the faculty have dramatically changed our compensation package in order to keep our benefits package affordable. Each time, the point was made that this change was needed to keep our healthcare costs from skyrocketing. And each time, our health care costs have remained flat or have declined. For the faculty to continue to pay more under the presumption that we need to rein in costs just doesn’t add up. It is the Chapter’s position that the faculty here at UC have compromised enough over the years with regards to compensation and healthcare and shouldn’t be asked to give back in order to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.
The January 2016 issue of Works, the UC-AAUP Chapter’s Newsletter, published a detailed analysis regarding University expenditures. It should come as no surprise to regular readers of the newsletter that instructional spending here at UC continues a downward trend. What might have been a surprise is the significant jump in expenditures for Academic Support, Institutional Support, and Athletics. From 2009 to 2015, each of these categories have increased dramatically, which Athletics jumping a whopping 114%. What does this translate into you might ask? Heavier workloads, larger class sizes, and dramatic cuts to operating budgets.
For years now the Administration and the AAUP have talked earnestly about improving retention and recruitment of faculty here at UC. There’s no magic formula to make this happen. The disinvestment in instructional spending needs to end. The University must stop siphoning away of funding from instruction to shore up the University’s core academic mission of educating students. This is a top priority for most public research institutions across the country and UC should be no different.
The Chapter is keenly aware of the Administration’s ambitions Capital Projects plans for various building across both east and west campus (with Fifth Third arena renovation topping the $80 million mark), contract extensions for head coaches in excess of $4 million. With UC in solid financial shape, we were hopeful that the Administration would likewise invest substantial resources in its faculty. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.
Over the coming weeks, the Chapter will be asking faculty to become more actively involved in the process in order to help get us to a point where we can make progress through reasoned exchanges of proposals. Please make every effort to attend the next Board of Trustees meeting which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21st at 8:30am in the Russell C. Myers Alumni Center.
2016 Paradise Scholarship
Two UC Students Receive 2016 Paradise Scholarship Awards
Two UC students were this year’s recipients of the AAUP-UC Chapter’s James and Charlotte Paradise scholarship awards: Suaad Hansbhai (CECH/School of Education) and Erin O’Callaghan (A&S/Psychology). This award is provided by the Paradise Scholarship Fund. Students are nominated by any AAUP-UC Bargaining Unit faculty member.
James Paradise was legal counsel for the UC Chapter through five years and three collective bargaining agreements. He was an NLRB trial examiner, General Counsel of the Brewery Workers International Union, and President and Board member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Charlotte was a teacher, active member of the Cincinnati Women’s City Club, and her husband’s legal secretary for more than a decade.
This $2,000 scholarship is awarded to a UC undergraduate Junior or Senior who demonstrates commitment to community service, concern for others, and willingness to defend human rights and civil liberties. Nominees must also have a record of serious study and good academic performance.
Both Ms. Hansbhai and Ms. O’Callaghan have excellent academic records that evidence an ability to do serious study and a willingness to accept challenges. Equally important, outside the classroom, they exemplify the values upon which the award is based and that characterized the lives of James and Charlotte Paradise.
The AAUP-UC Chapter was proud to award these scholarships, with our thanks for their hard work and community commitment, to Ms. Hansbhai and Ms. O’Callaghan at the April 7th Chapter meeting.