By Doug Cunningham, August 17, 2016
After a two-year effort faculty at the University of Northern Iowa reached a collaborative agreement with UNI's administration to rectify faculty salary inequities. Dr. Joe Gorton is President of United Faculty at UNI. He says the pay inequity was concentrated among women faculty. He says this agreement corrects a substantial pay inequity that has unjustly held down the wages of dozens of faculty members. The agreement puts safeguards in place to avoid repeating pay inequity in the future.
[Dr. Joe Gorton]: "Both the administration and our union were receiving basically complaints from faculty...And so we joined together. We're very fortunate at UNI to have an Associate Provost - Nancy Cobb - who put the green-light on let's work together and try to solve this problem."
Fifty-one faculty members will share an additional $155,064 in salaries as a result of the agreement. Seventy percent of these collectively bargained salary adjustments are going to women faculty. Eight percent are going to racial/ethnic minority faculty. Dr. Gorton says he does not believe the faculty pay inequity was intentional discrimination by the university.
[Dr. Joe Gorton]: "Primarily this happens during the hiring process, the hiring procedure, where - for whatever reason - during the initial negotiation between a faculty member and a department head for salary the women were probably not negotiating for whatever reason as high a salary as men."
Dr. Gorton says this agreement not only catches faculty up who had previously been paid less, but tries to avoid pay inequity going forward.
[Dr. Joe Gorton]: "And we hope it will be a pattern that administration's around the country will take note of and try to make changes in their own labor relations. Simply because we have a union and management where we might have innately adversarial relationships doesn't mean we can't work together to solve problems."
In this case, Dr. Gorton says, although there was collaboration with the administration there was also union collective power to make sure faculty got pay inequity addressed.
[Dr. Joe Gorton]: "Kinda gunboat diplomacy, or I should say muscular diplomacy - is the term I like to use. The administration knows that we will fight vigorously on behalf of our members. But our first tactic - our first choice - is to always try to persuade the administration of the merits of our position so that we don't have to have conflict. And we've been pretty successful with that for the past three years."