Union will improve faculty salaries

Our current situation
The Minnesota chapter of the American Association of University Professors has been reporting salary comparisons for about 20 years. Recently, Central Administration has adopted a list of the top 30 research universities that should be considered our peers. This is a good list, based on National Research Council rankings, and is essentially the same one that AAUP has been using for 10 years to compare our salary situation with other institutions.
The comparison is very disturbing:
The erosion of University salaries has been steady — with only 1 major exception — since 1980.
Associate and full professors have always been underpaid compared to our peers.
New hires (associate and assistant professors) were paid competitively as recently as 1980, but now those salaries are also eroding.
The AAUP salary data (see Table 1) for the top 34 research universities, for the 17 public universities in the top 34, and for the seven Big Ten universities in the top 34, show how Minnesota faculty salaries rank.

1. Salary rankings of faculty at the University of Minnesota
Central Administration has promised to rectify this situation. But administrators have been making similar statements for nearly 20 years, and when funds obtained from the Legislature have been less than requested, faculty salaries have continued to decline. Despite the promises, competitive faculty salaries have obviously NOT been a high priority for the last three administrations.

2. Collective bargaining can help increase faculty salaries
We can already see the effect of collective bargaining at the University. The administration’s request to the Legislature says, “Average salaries for most employee groups are currently at or above the mean of the appropriate market. The two significant exceptions are faculty on the Morris and Twin Cities campuses, whose salaries fall below this standard by approximately 10 percent and 8 percent respectively.” Many of the employee groups whose salaries are at or above the mean already have collective bargaining.
The AAUP has experience at the national level with collective bargaining chapters at many large state universities. It is difficult to make a direct comparison because the top 30 research universities have not yet embraced collective bargaining. Nevertheless, the comparison is very interesting. The three tables in Table 2 compare the compensation of full, associate and assistant professors at the University in 1976-77 and in 1995-96 with the average of the top 30 research institutions and with nine Research I institutions that have collective bargaining. (Delaware and Rhode Island are Research II institutions.) Table entries are listed in descending order of percentage salary increases based on a comparison of 1976-77 salaries with 1995-96 salaries.
The bottom line is that Minnesota faculty have done poorly at all ranks. Not only are actual salaries low at the University, but our percentage salary increase over 20 years (1977-1996) places our faculty at or near the bottom of the institutions listed. Our slippage at the associate and assistant professor ranks is a disaster. Twenty years ago we were near the top of those ranks, and now we are near the bottom!
Salaries at the top 30 research universities are generally higher than those at other institutions. Most of us would agree that the universities named above are not considered to be among the most prestigious research universities, though many have strong competitive departments. Still, collective bargaining has allowed these universities to do as well as or better than the average of the top 30 institutions and much better than Minnesota.
Faculty salary improvement can come from two sources: an increase in state support and an increase in the fraction of the budget allocated to faculty salaries.
Increased state support requires legislative action. This will require effort from all of us. Everyone agrees that the faculty should do a better job of explaining to the citizens of Minnesota how hard we work and the value of what we do. While the University has supported some activities in this area, more effort is needed. Coordination of this effort would be an excellent investment of a portion of our local AAUP/UFA (University Faculty Association) dues. It would provide a way to explain the faculty perspective undiluted by the concerns of other constituencies at the University.
Through collective bargaining, the faculty can negotiate the fraction of the institution’s budget that is allocated to faculty salaries. A finance professor with a national reputation for analyzing academic budgets serves as a consultant to many AAUP collective bargaining chapters. He analyzes the University’s finances before contract negotiations begin so that the chapter representatives who are bargaining have a good idea what the institution can realistically afford. We expect to use his services.

3. Principles for determination of faculty salaries
Many fear that collective bargaining requires that salaries be allocated by age or seniority, and that merit would not be recognized or rewarded. This is not true. Principles for salary allocation are determined by the local unit, not by any national organization.
Fixed salary schedules are not required. Contracts recognize that market pressures differ by discipline and that there is a need to provide for retention cases. Contracts also recognize salary inequities that have developed over the years. Most AAUP chapter contracts also include merit provisions, usually allocating a certain portion for cost of living and a certain portion for merit increases. Methods for allocating merit increases differ. Some institutions decide to have merit determined by faculty committees. Others prefer to leave the merit portion up to the administration. The important point is that we, the faculty, through our elected representatives to the local AAUP chapter, decide how we want to do it.
Subject to faculty approval, we, the AAUP/UFA, intend to bargain for a salary package that includes a substantial merit component to be allocated by the academic unit, in accordance with principles that the faculty of the unit adopt. Further, because of the 20-year erosion in faculty salaries at the University, we will commit ourselves to a campaign to convince legislators that the salary erosion must end. We will ask for an exceptional recurring augmentation to faculty salaries to make them competitive with salaries at our peer institutions.

The Committee on Policy and Constitutional Issues:
Chair: Roberta Humphreys, Astronomy
Co-Chair: Eville Gorham, Ecology
Co-Chair: John Chipman, Economics
Irl Carter, Social Work
Tom Carter, Social Work
Tom Clayton, English
John Dahler, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Marti Hope Gonzales, Psychology
Russell Hobbie, Physics
Dick McGehee, Math
Paula Rabinowitz, English
Robert Sloan, Geology
George Spangler, Fisheries & Wildlife
Steve Sperber, Math
Robert Sonkowsky, Classics
Craig Swan, Economics