Saturday, 2:15 PM
Faculty at two UMass campuses agree to wage freeze this year
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
Faculty at the Boston and Amherst campuses of the University of Massachusetts have agreed to a three-year contract that freezes their wages for the current academic year.
After more than a year of negotiations, unions of faculty and librarians at the two public universities reached a tentative deal Friday with university officials. The new contract raises salaries by 1.5 percent in the coming academic year and 3.5 percent the following year. The full unions are expected to ratify the agreement in the next two weeks.
At UMass-Amherst, full professors earn an average of $117,000 a year. All faculty earn an average of $90,000, according to university statistics.
Union leaders said they accepted the wage freeze to help the university tackle a large budget deficit brought on by reduced state subsidies, and urged administrators to shelve plans for a hefty student fee increase.
Professors at the Dartmouth and Lowell campuses are still negotiating.
"Given the current state of the Massachusetts economy, we concluded that we must accept this pay freeze," said Randall Phillis, president of the Massachusetts Society of Professors, the union at UMass-Amherst. "Our effort is intended to help UMass students afford their education and UMass workers keep their jobs."
Phillis said he also hoped the wage freeze would help prevent layoffs and program cuts. Officials at UMass Amherst, facing a nearly $50 million deficit, are mulling a broad campus reorganization to reduce administrative costs.
University officials say the wage freeze is largely unrelated to the budget deficit and that any raise would have been financed by the state legislature.
On Friday, UMass trustees are expected to approve a $1,500 increase in student fees, a 15 percent increase that would bring annual tuition costs for in-state undergraduates to an average of $11,000. The extra revenue will also substantially boost financial aid.