In March of 2009, our faculty voted to be represented by the Association Faculty of Montana State University (AFMSU) in collective bargaining agreements. For MSU administration, negotiations with the union became an important and necessary element for decisions regarding terms and conditions of employment of faculty members.
Since last February, AFMSU and the MSU administration have been engaged in collective bargaining negotiations and are working diligently to develop the university's first faculty collective bargaining agreements. These agreements will govern faculty terms and conditions of employment, so it is understandable that the process has been undertaken with great care. I thank all the individuals who have been involved in the process.
In June of 2009, the University Planning and Budget Analysis Committee (UPBAC) considered a number of budget proposals, including a request for merit pay for faculty members. The recommendation stated that an amount of $180,000, plus related benefits, would be allocated for faculty merit increases for faculty for the Fiscal Year of 2010 (FY10).
As a result of these events, the question about the final destiny of UPBAC's recommendation in regards to faculty merit pay for FY10 was still pending final resolution. In October, we were notified by AFMSU that the union agreed to forgo the right to bargain the faculty merit increases for FY10.
I am writing to announce that we will honor the recommendation that was submitted by UPBAC and endorsed by AFMSU. MSU is willing to offer faculty merit increases as base salary adjustments in the amount of $180,000 (plus benefits), for a total cost of $214,758 retroactive for FY10. Those base increases will continue for the current year (FY11). Hence, the total cost of these salary increases will be $429,516 with an ongoing expense in FY12 and beyond of $214,758.
The rationale for the recommendation of salary adjustments retroactive to FY10 includes the following elements: 1) This recommendation has been consistently supported by MSU Faculty Senate leadership; 2) The proposal was appropriately included in the MSU general operating budget for FY10 and FY11; 3) It is consistent with the awarding of merit increases for faculty at our sister institution in the state; 4) It represents an issue that AFMSU has endorsed during bargaining negotiations; 5) We are committed to meritorious performance and will work diligently in bringing salaries closer to those of our peer institutions.
Moving forward, we will need to develop a mechanism for determining the distribution of the funds allocated. I have asked Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Joe Fedock, to develop an implementation plan. The plan will be addressed in collective bargaining with the AFMSU and will involve appropriate level of consultation with the Faculty Senate. Once the plan is finalized, the merit increases will be awarded. With this goal and commitment to good-faith action, we aim to complete the process for the merit raises for faculty for the academic year 2009-2010.