Wednesday, March 16, 2016

EIU faculty voting on pay deferral

Faculty at Eastern Illinois (who are unionized under the UPI--AFT) have voted to rejected one plan to reduce their pay but are now considering a 'pay deferral' which would be paid back our of any FY 2017 funds allocated to EIU.

Late last week EIU faculty narrowly voted down a somewhat different administration proposal. The new proposal has higher paid faculty defer a higher percentage of their pay, and sets out clearer and more realistic terms to require the university to pay back the deferred salary. The new proposal would actually save EIU more money in the short term, though it clarifies that the savings are temporary, and would be paid back if EIU gets state funding for MAP grants or general appropriations for FY 2016 or FY 2017. 50% of any such payment would go to repaying faculty salaries. Under the old plan faculty would only have been compensated had FY 2016 funding come through from the state. Both plans would also extend the current EIU faculty contract by a year.

Deferred pay will amount to 5-7.5% of annual salary. That doesn't sound terribly severe, but as it has to be taken out of the last few paychecks of the year those paychecks will be much smaller (at least 20% smaller). The EIU administration has said that it would be $2 million short of making payroll through the end of this fiscal year (i.e., June 30); the deferred payment plan would save a bit more than this. 

I met their union's spokesperson at a rally last week. My understanding is that the administration wanted furloughs. The union negotiated to the first administrative proposal, which they put to a vote (with the endorsement of the union leadership); when it was voted down they put forward this revised proposal to meet objections from their membership. Assuming their members approve this offer, the union will present it to the administration.

The situation at EIU is dire: 177 staff have already been laid off.  I don't know all the details, but it looks to me like the EIU faculty union is working in good faith and in a democratic fashion to help EIU get through the current crisis, while doing all it can to protect the interests of its members. Links to press coverage after the break.

Account from their local paper, the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.

Account from their student newspaper, The Daily Eastern.

EIU faculty union website, with links to the plan and a FAQ page.

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