03 October 2010

Comparison-eight salaries

System-wide senate committees and working groups have started posting documents before they reach the stage of Council approval, which is a welcome development to the extent that it gives the rest of the faculty some insight into the workings of the system-wide senate and helps dispel the perception of senate proceedings as shrouded in mystery and removed from faculty concerns.

Among these documents is a report by the working group on Faculty Salaries and Total Remuneration, entitled "Faculty Salary Gap and Restoring UC Competitiveness." It makes for very interesting reading, at a time when UC seems poised to cut retirement benefits and increase employee contributions.

It's noteworthy that the proposed regime of fiscal austerity does not extend to upper echelons of the administration, witness the executive salary increases enacted by the Regents at their September meeting, bringing "executive salary increases and bonuses in fiscal year 2010 to an additional annual commitment of $11.5 million".

Equally  noteworthy is the stark contrast with faculty salaries. According to the working group report, faculty salaries lag significantly behind average salaries at the "comparison eight" institutions, a group which comprises four public universities (Illinois, Michigan, Virginia and SUNY Buffalo) and four private ones (Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale). Associate Professors seems to have it the worst: UC salaries lag behind comparison-eight averages by 13.3% for Full Professors, 15.2% for Associate Professors, and 9.2% for Assistant Professors.

These are average salaries, reflecting any off-step increments awarded to faculty (and we know there are units across the system where most faculty – like in Lake Wobegon – are above step). The administration has long argued that the salary lag disappears when considering total compensation, which includes benefits; but that was not true in the past, and it will certainly be even more of a fig leaf with the upcoming changes in the pension plan. 

The situation is even more disturbing when looking at the salary scales, which of course do not reflect off-step increases. Just to take an example from the report, the average salary for Full Professors at comparison-eight universities is $146,030; supposedly this should correspond to the mid-point through the Full Professor rank at UC. The on-step salary for Full Professors, step V  is $103,300 or almost a whopping 30% below the benchmark (and, yes, there actually are full professors in the system with on-step salaries). Clearly UC salary scales are totally meaningless.

In 2007 the Regents enacted a 4-year plan conceived (a) to close the gap with the comparison eight; and (b) to adjust the salary scales in order better to reflect real faculty salaries. The first year of the plan was implemented in 2007-08, but years 2-4 were promptly scrapped during the recession. In fact, faculty salaries, far from being adjusted upwards, were further reduced by the furlough program. 

The work group insists the a simple resumption of the 4-year plan would not be "tenable," and that a joint Senate-UCOP task force be appointed to further look into the situation. In the meantime, the following recommendations are put forward to the council for approval and transmittal to UCOP:
  1. UC budget proposals must provide for a resumption of the Faculty Salary Plan as of 2010-11;
  2. In recognition of resumed UCRP contributions, UC must enact an across-the-board increase of the salary scales of no less than 2%, also effective 2010-11;
  3. As soon as possible, the university must enact a further across-the-board increase of 5% applied to both salary and off-step increments, with further increments apportioned to actual salaries and salary scales as determined by the future task force.
These are all very real issues. Faculty do not have the protection afforded a large portion of the staff by the unions, which negotiate salary and benefits. The senate is our only voice, for now at least. Each division is represented on the Council by the divisional senate chair. Contact your representative on the council and urge swift and forceful action on the issue.

1 comment:

  1. let's try to keep the report visible for a while longer, thanks