Clearing the record on TAUP negotiations

The VP of Human Resources weighs in on the recent TAUP action.

Dear Editor:

We appreciate your position as expressed in “Unearthed Promises” on Nov. 18, but there were several inaccuracies regarding contract negotiations between Temple and the Temple Association of University Professionals.

Temple is not proposing a “full merit pay system” for its faculty, but rather a pay system that includes both across-the-board raises and performance-based raises. The proposal starts off with increases that are approximately two-thirds across-the-board. By year four of the contract, salary increases will be approximately half across the board and half performance-based. Contracts recently reached with faculty at Rutgers and the University of Vermont, who, like TAUP, also are represented by the American Federation of Teachers, provide for similar splits of across-the-board and merit increases. Many other of the best universities in the country base all of their salary increases on performance.

There is no truth to the statement that Temple has not increased faculty salaries. Temple has paid TAUP faculty annual increases of more than 3.75 percent in each of the four years under the contract that expired on Oct. 15, 2008. Last spring, Temple proposed to TAUP leadership that pay increases for this academic year go into effect in July as part of a one-year contract extension while the parties discussed other issues. TAUP rejected that offer, leaving increases for this academic year to be determined by the current negotiations.

For the new contract, the university has proposed a total compensation package to faculty that amounts to approximately 4.7 percent for this academic year, and increases to compensation of at least 3.85 percent in each of the next three years. While the expired contract offered .75 percent of the compensation package as a bonus rather than a change to base pay, the new proposal moves this .75 percent to eventually go to base pay and be available for compounding. The proposed increases will go into effect as soon as TAUP and Temple reach an agreement.

Despite the claim of Anthony Ranere, Temple has not asked for complete control over deciding who receives performance pay increases. In fact, Temple has proposed that faculty committees in the schools and colleges recommend increases, based on each faculty member’s annual performance report, to the deans and the provost. This is a process used by other universities and is similar in design to the process used for tenure and promotion decisions at Temple.

An open performance pay review process, like the one Temple has proposed, will ensure that all effective faculty members will be rewarded for their teaching and other activities. We want to attract the best scholars and teachers to Temple.

Pay increases based on performance can be likened to the grades you earn in school. How fair would the process be if a professor were to say to your class that no matter how much or how little work you do, you’re all getting the same grade?

Thank you for this opportunity to correct the record and explain our proposals. We look forward to completing these negotiations and reaching a settlement as soon as possible.

Deborah Hartnett
Vice President, Human Resources, Temple University

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