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LETTER: Professor 'deeply disturbed' by negotiations

Are you angry about the current bargaining situation between CMU and the Faculty? If I were a student, I would be. I am a professor, and I can assure you I am deeply disturbed by these negotiations. Here is a brief primer on why I am so upset:

1) FACT: Salaries of upper administrators have exploded in the past 10 years. In 2000, the CMU President earned $200,000. In 2010, George Ross earned $350,000, a 75 percent increase (and that doesn’t include the $50,000 bonus he received!). The Provost’s salary is up 63 percent in those 10 years. Over that same time period, faculty have seen their pay increase about 32 percent. Of course, the administrators started with higher salaries in the first place, so in addition to having a larger percentage increase, the difference in actual dollars was huge.

2) FACT: Since 2000, the undergraduate enrollment at CMU has increased 32 percent and tuition has increased 220 percent (not including the increase this fall!). The huge increase in enrollment and in tuition translates into an obscene amount of revenue for CMU. In contrast, the number of tenure track faculty at CMU has increased six percent! Students suffer as the ratio of students to faculty skyrockets.

3) FACT: The faculty at CMU is already paid less than faculty at other MAC schools. In 2009-2010, we ranked between 8th and 10th (depending on faculty rank), out of 13 MAC schools! Salaries for full professors at CMU were over $7,000 lower than the average salary for full professors in the MAC. Our faculty is as good as any in the MAC and we are not being compensated in any way near what our peers are being compensated.

4) FACT: The current unrestricted surplus assets held by CMU is $228,307,60, an increase of 69 percent since 2005. This is money that is not tied up in buildings and facilities and is not earmarked for any specific purpose, and is higher than any other point in the history of CMU. This has led President Ross and the Board of Trustees to state that CMU is “rock solid” financially.

5) FACT: President Ross manipulatively withheld the names of faculty approved for promotion from the Board of Trustees for 2 months. This ensured that the Board would approve these promotions AFTER the collective bargaining agreement between CMU and the faculty expired on June 30th. Why does this matter? The administration is now citing a Michigan law that states raises approved after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement are not subject to retroactive pay after a new agreement is signed. In other words, as negotiations drag into the fall, every week that goes by is a week that these hard working professors who have ALREADY EARNED THEIR RAISES with past years work, will not be compensated for their earned promotions.

What do these things tell us? They tell me that CMU is doing great financially, and the administration has inflated their salaries on the backs of the faculty and students, while pleading poverty with the faculty. Not only that, but President Ross’s manipulative withholding of promotion information until AFTER the contract had expired tells me something very clearly: This man is no leader for our institution. Is this the way a man of high integrity approaches bargaining with the employees that make up the lifeblood of his university? The answer is clearly “no”. In my 15 years at CMU I have seen bargaining 5 times. Each time, the administration asked for and received give-backs from the faculty. Each time the negotiations were difficult. Never before have I seen such underhanded and immoral tactics from the administration. In the end, CMU students suffer as the administration refuses to bargain a fair contract with their outstanding faculty. If you agree, now is the time to let your voice be heard.

Bryan Gibson, Department of Psychology.