At the University of Oregon, members of United Academics are beginning another school year, excited as always to meet incoming students, but also aware of the challenges that we face in the near future. We are pleased with the decision of the Board of Trustees at the end of the last school year to reduce the projected tuition increase by more than a third, to 6.56 percent as a result of the $70 million allocated to higher education by the Oregon Legislature.Though this figure still represents a steep hike for our student body, it is much less drastic than the increase originally proposed.
With the end of our current CBA on the horizon, United Academics has engaged in talks with the administration concerning the possibility of extending our current agreement for two years, without returning to the negotiating table. Given the unstable budget for the forthcoming year this would enable us to lock in modest salary increases (4.125% average over the next two years, with across-the-board raises, merit increases, and equity adjustments) and maintain current benefits while retaining the ability to negotiate other non-economic issues through memorandums of understanding in the coming year. We will be holding a vote on this agreement in the next month.
Though it was summertime and many faculty members were away from campus, United Academics members were busy with many activities. We sent representatives to the LERC/AFL-CIO Summer School to learn about current challenges facing the labor movement. We also sent members to the AAUP Summer Institute in Cincinnati and the Northwest Leadership Forum in Vancouver, Washington. Delegates attended the 55th Annual Oregon AFL-CIO convention in Bend to continue our engagement in the state-wide labor movement. We have also started collaborating informally with our colleagues at Oregon State University as they begin the process of organizing their union.
The upcoming year will present challenges, particularly faced with the probable Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME that would strike down fair-share bargaining agreements. We approach this year with a renewed organizing effort, to reach out to members and non-members alike.