Strike Update – Day 2

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Our ranks for day 2 of the strike were boosted by community members including construction workers, football players, state Senator Michael Dembrow, and the GTFF Navy.

That’s right. We have a navy! GTFs stationed in Coos Bay at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology borrowed a private, local boat and picketed up and down the Bay. That. is. Awesome. Check out pictures and news coverage here.

But, we need the continued support of our members here in Eugene.

Tomorrow, the bargaining team is meeting with the Administration’s team at an off campus location. When the Administration’s bargaining team needs to call in Johnson Hall for directions, we need them to hear YOU picketing on the other end of the phone. We need YOU to make the Administrators in Johnson Hall to say “Just agree to the GTFF’s requests, we cannot take this (legal decibel level) noise anymore.”

Our rally at 5pm today was extremely inspirational. Many of our members spoke reporting from our picket lines. Our campus and community allies spoke. After the rally we marched over to the end of the University Senate meeting and were joined by faculty and staff leaving the meeting. Unfortunately, while President Coltrane was at the meeting, he slipped out a side door rather than facing graduate employees.

Today, we filled an unfair labor practice charge against the University Administration. We were forced to file these charges in response to the Administration’s behavior in the days preceding our current strike. This unfair labor practice charge documents attempts to intimidate, coerce, and punish GTFs for exercising their rights under Oregon law. We will make that ULP available soon.

Additionally, the GTFF set up a Pay-Pal based system to donate to our Strike Fund. These funds will help offset costs associated with strike supplies, legal costs, or lost wages. But, donations to the GTFF are not be deductible for income tax purposes. You can donate by going here.

 

 

Let’s briefly review University finances. Below are two images. They are taken from here, the agenda packet given to the Board of Trustees Finances and Facilities committee. They were presented by Jamie Moffit, VP of Finances and Administration and CFO of the University of Oregon. The first image shows the budget summary for fiscal year 2013 (June 2012-July 2013) and the second shows it for fiscal year 2014 (July 2013-June 2014).

FY13Budget fy14Budget

 

 

We are only interested in the Education and General (E&G) Fund. This is the budget that tuition and fees gets paid into, and GTF (and faculty) wages and benefits come out of. Revenues are in green. Expenses are in red. Net values are in blue. These are summarized in the table below.

Fiscal Year 2013 Fiscal Year 2014
Total Revenue $428,239,850 $451,860,558
Total Expense $420,070,963 $417,531,618
Net +$8,168,887 $+34,328,941

The only numbers that actually matter are the last two. They are positive net incomes. BIG positive net incomes. The University turned a profit (or “surplus”) of $8 million from tuition and fees in 2013. The University turned a profit of $34 million in 2014. The University even went as far as to decrease its expenses in 2014 by $2.5 million compared to 2013.

(Note that during the actual Board of Trustees committee meeting, Jamie Moffit stated that $23 million of this was not actual income, but just money the University was transferring around between the State Board of Higher Education’s banking system and the University’s new banking system since the Board of Trustees took over. So really, this is just $11 million dollars, which the GTFF has regularly been pointing out.)

Additionally, we can look at the purple line from the FY2014 budget and see that at the start of fiscal year 2015, July 1st 2014, the University had a balance of +$65 million (when dropping the $23 million that is being “accounted for” in other ways).

If you are worried about just looking at the E&G Fund, glance at the last column of each picture. In both years, the University had an overall POSITIVE net income of more than $40 million. The University is fine financially.

Turning a profit of $20 million dollars over two years is NOT spending every nickel they collect. Sitting on a pile of $65 million is not difficult financial strife. Saying that the University does not have the money necessary to fund benefits for its employees is untrue. Saying that tuition needs to be raised to provide pay and benefits to its employees is untrue. They have the money, they just aren’t willing to spend it.

The next line the Administration will state is that these funds are set aside for specific projects, and can’t be used for other reasons. But they can. Jamie Moffitt was very clear at the Board of Trustees meeting that they are not legally tied to any project – they are just “set aside” for them. So why not set aside some of this year’s incoming multi-million dollar profit for wages and benefits for its employees? Why not set aside some of the $2 billion fundraising campaign for employee paid leave? Why not cut back on million dollar severance packages?

Scott Coltrane loves paid leave. That has been well documented. Why doesn’t he give some of his salary to get leave for his employees. He wrote in the Atlantic (formatting ours):

But even without programs as generous as those in Scandinavia, I suspect that any costs associated with taking paternal leave will be outweighed by potential gains. Men will develop better nurturing skills. Women will enjoy increased earnings, career advancement, and satisfaction. Children will benefit from having two involved caregivers. And corporations and governments, who want to see a more resilient and equal-opportunity work force, will realize it is in their best interests to help balance work and family obligations for everyone.

Any costs! We did not know that “any” actually meant “as long as it preserves a multi-million dollar annual profit.”

Let’s look at another chart. Below is a chart of the growth of salaries for various employee groups on campus, along with undergrad tuition and the inflation rate.  The data for employee wages comes from the University’s Office of Institution Research, the inflation data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, undergrad tuition comes from tuition and fee data from the Oregon University System, and GTF wages come from our collective bargaining agreements. Values are normalized to their average in the 2003-2004 academic year.

UO-expenses

If there is ONE cost that is contributing to raising tuition, it is Administrator’s salaries. NOT the salaries of faculty, staff and GTFs. Those salaries barely match inflation. Administrator salaries (both Senior Administrator and OAs), however, grow 2-3 times the rate of inflation and about the same rate as tuition. If there is a place where things could be trimmed back to not increase tuition. We’d suggest Administrator salaries – not the people actually responsible for educating students, doing research and making the University function on a day-to-day basis.

 

 

Here are links to our other posts from today, December 3rd, 2014: