Raises in the UIC Union Contract: A Careful Look

A careful analysis of the raises in the faculty union contract at UIC shows that our colleagues in Chicago will make solid gains to their base salary: 6.75% over the past two years (2012-2014), and the campus salary program plus an additional 1% for next year (2014-15).

Our analysis shows that the raise pool gains at UIC are almost identical to the raises given at UIUC overall, but at UIC they are guaranteed and are being distributed with attention to salary compression and equity.  The process by which the raises were agreed upon was transparent.

In this article we restrict attention to the raise pool percentages. This is the logical and sound way to compare salary changes at different institutions. A recent analysis by union opponents has compared raise pool percentages at UIC to the average salary increases at UIUC, thereby creating confusion by working with non-comparable categories (see * below).

The raise pools for UIC faculty, as negotiated by faculty in their union contract, are:

2012-2013 (effective Aug 2012): 2.0% + 0.5% Market and Equity adjustments

2013-2014 (effective Aug 2013): 2.75% + 0.5% Market and Equity + 1.0% for Compression, Market, Equity and Retention (CMER) adjustments

2014-2015 (effective Aug 2014): Campus Salary Program (not yet determined) + 1.0% for CMER adjustments.

Total: 6.75% for 2012-2014, and Campus Salary Program plus 1% for 2014-2015.

Other notable points about raises at UIC

UIC faculty will see substantial gains on promotion raises: both tenure track (TT) and non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty at UIC are now guaranteed at least a 10% raise when they win promotion, whereas previously there was no guaranteed minimum raise.  For comparison, note that here in Urbana-Champaign, NTT faculty who win promotion (e.g. from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer, or Research Assistant Professor to Research Associate Professor) are still not guaranteed a raise of any kind.

The percentages above are for raise pools. Individual raise amounts will be determined through existing unit-level procedures, as is done currently.

Faculty can seek additional raises at any time – the contract states “Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the University from providing salary increases to members of the bargaining unit in excess of the amounts specified in this Article…”.

The contract at UIC guarantees that NTT faculty receive their share of the CMER pools. 

How do the UIC  raises compare to raises at UIUC?

It does not really make sense to compare raises at UIC with raises at UIUC, because the campuses have distinct missions, different income streams, and different financial obligations. Nonetheless, we note that the raise pools for the last two years at UIC match the analogous pools at UIUC, with the exception of an additional 0.5% at UIUC that came from “internal reallocation” this year.   Internal reallocation funds are existing monies that some colleges reallocated to salaries, without receiving any additional resources from central administration. These monies come from retirements and other internal cost savings.

Let’s compare…The raise pools for UIUC faculty, as determined unilaterally by campus administration (see 2012-2013 and 2013-2014) are:

2012-2013 (effective Aug 2012): 2.5% + 0.5% CMER

2013-2014 (effective Aug 2013): 2.75% + 0.5% CMER + 0.4% additional targeted pool to certain colleges + 0.5% from internal reallocations in some colleges

2014-2015 (effective Aug 2014): Campus Salary Program + CMER (not yet determined)

Total: 6.25% plus 0.4% targeted plus 0.5% internal reallocation for 2012-2014, and Campus Salary Program plus unknown amount of CMER for 2014-2015.


The raise pools over the previous two years at UIUC amount to 7.15% (although as we noted above, 0.9% of this amount was distributed non-uniformly, with many colleges and departments receiving none of those funds). To put it another way, 6.25% was the campus-wide pool, and another 0.4% was spread around in discretionary ways, and 0.5% came from colleges reallocating funds internally, if they were able to.

We do not know how large a raise the administration will grant for 2014-2015 at UIUC, or how large the CMER pool will be.

There is a remarkable lack of fiscal transparency in this process at UIUC. The announced raise pools for the current year were 2.75% + 0.5% CMER. Only later, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Campus Faculty Association, did we learn in detail how the administration provided an additional 0.4% “targeted” raise pool to certain colleges and authorized internal reallocations to pay for further raises. Only some colleges could afford such reallocations, it turns out, and so a substantial part of last year’s raise program was non-uniformly distributed, in a non-transparent fashion.  The way these decisions are made remains murky.

To conclude, the raise pool gains at UIC are almost identical to the raises given at UIUC overall, but they are guaranteed and are being distributed with attention to salary compression and equity. They were arrived at through a transparent process in which faculty had formal budgetary and negotiating input. Claims that the UIC faculty has hurt itself by working with the administration through a collective bargaining agreement just do not hold up.

*Note: Comparing raise pools to raise pools – apples to apples – is the ethical and sound way to compare salary changes at different institutions. Comparing raise pools at one institutions to a campus-wide average salary increase at another institution would create a false equivalence, because the campus-wide average raise for faculty is in most years higher than the raise pool percentage (for reasons such as the redistributions of salary when highly-paid faculty retire). Comparing raise pool amounts at UIC to average raises at UIUC, as a union opponent on our campus has done, simply demonstrates poor reasoning – for it relies upon a direct comparison of non-comparable categories.*



Published by Susan Davis

I teach in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois.

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