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Pay Raise or Pay Restoration?

WIU faculty members said they gave back 2% three years ago in addition to increasing their workloads. So they said the forthcoming 2% rise in their salaries is a pay restoration, not a pay raise.

Faculty members at Western Illinois University will receive a 2% pay raise on July 1. But some feel “raise” does not properly describe the salary adjustment.

They point out faculty members gave back 2% three years ago in addition to increasing their workloads. They say the 2% rise in their salaries is a pay restoration, not a pay raise.

“This might look like a raise, an improvement, an increase, and even a promise of better things to come,” said Patrick McGinty, professor of sociology and president of the WIU chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), speaking at the WIU Board of Trustees’ June meeting.

“Realistically, (these) are salary restorations. Effective July 1, 2022, academic bargaining unit salaries at WIU will have been effectively flat since July 1, 2016.”

He said faculty have received the equivalent of a 16% pay cut when rises in the cost of living are factored in.

Mark Bernards, who teaches in the School of Agriculture, told the board he's often heard the faculty described as the heart of the university.

“The human heart does not thrive unless it is provided with proper nutrition and exercise,” he said.

“Similarly, a university’s faculty and staff is going to languish and that university will struggle if investments are not made to incentivize excellence and attract new talent.”

Bernards said faculty members realize there are financial constraints at the university, but he said they need to feel valued.

Western President Guiyou Huang said he won’t shy away from acknowledging the university faces financial challenges, though he added finances have been stable the past couple years.

“But stable is not good enough. Right? We want to be better,” he said.

He said Western’s finances can improve if the university increases enrollment and if the state increases its support. He also said administrators have been working “extremely hard” to produce a financial sustainability plan.

As for whether faculty are receiving a pay raise or a pay restoration, Dr. Huang said it’s a matter of perspective.

Huang also said that in addition to the upcoming raise, all Western employees who were with the university on July 1, 2021 received 2% pay raises retroactive to that date.

UPI and the administration are scheduled to begin contract talks in August.

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