Serving Franklin County, WA

EWU, union agree to faculty salary concessions

Tenure buyouts, voluntary retirement payments and suspension of upcoming COLA also included in deal staving off severe financial crisis declaration

CHENEY – Eastern Washington University’s Board of Trustee’s approved a memorandum of understanding with the United Faculty of Eastern that would stave off declaration of a severe financial crisis. All of the trustee’s voted for the memorandum with the exception of Trustee Uriel Iniguez, who voted no.

The agreement includes financial concessions from the union, including a one-year, 6% reduction in salary, a tenure buyout and relinquishment plan and a voluntary retirement and separation incentive. The university agrees to hold off on declaring a severe financial crisis until at least March 31, 2021 and to provide a plan on program reduction and discontinuance that contains information on the proposed structure of “professional programs underpinned by liberal arts” to the UFE and board of trustees for approval.

The faculty union agrees to “permanently forego” a cost of living increase of 2 percent, an adjustment scheduled to go into effect this fall.

“They would be forever waiving that COLA,” Vice President for Human Resources Deborah Danner told the board at a special meeting Aug. 14.

The university will also offer a tenured buy-out and relinquishment plan to faculty who are age 55 or older, have 10 years of service at EWU as of Dec. 31, 2021 and are currently in tenured status. Faculty members will have the option of one of three dates to relinquish tenure and retire.

If they retire end of fall quarter 2020, they would receive 65 percent of their academic year 2019-2020, nine-month contract base salary less any withholdings. Eligible faculty electing to retire at the end of spring quarter 2021 would receive 45 percent of their contract base salary, less withholdings.

The university and union also agreed to a voluntary separation and retirement incentive to eligible faculty with service requirements similar to the tenure buy-out program. Faculty who elect this option will receive a $20,000 payment if retiring by Jan. 1, 2021.

The union also agreed to suspend 100 percent of development funds paid to full professors and to work with the university to promote funding for EWU in the coming legislative session.

Besides delaying the severe financial crisis declaration, the university agreed to use all net savings from the tenure buyout to “reduce the number of other faculty layoffs for FY (fiscal year) 21 and FY 22.” Any costs to the university to replace faculty positions vacated due to the buyout will be “considered when determining the savings.”

The university also agrees to provide information to the union and the board by Sept. 1, 2020 on the number and financial impacts of faculty non-renewals for 2020-21, any planned renewals for the same timeframe, a written summary of university reserves and information about any planned accrued savings relative to athletics.

The university must also present its program reduction and discontinuance plan to the board for review and consideration by June 15, 2021, contingent upon a review by the Faculty Senate, Union, various committees and their review to the president by May 1.

Author Bio

John McCallum, Free Press Publishing Managing Editor

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John McCallum is the Free Press Publishing managing editor, who also serves as editor of the Cheney Free Press and Spokane Valley News Herald.


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