Published: December 22, 2020

While the Covid-19 pandemic hit all of Oregon hard, it was particularly difficult for those of us working at Oregon’s seven State universities. Because in-person classes were suspended, delayed, and minimized, many of the essential workers who keep our colleges running were laid off, had their hours reduced, or were put into inactive status. We have been negotiating these impacts with the universities for months, and while we have won many solutions to ensure call-back rights for laid off employees and to protect healthcare for many inactive workers, there has still been a lot of hardship. 

Part of the reason that the universities were unable to maintain full staffing was a lack of revenue in the form of tuition. That is why it was so frustrating to see Eastern Oregon University announce that it will be giving its President, Tom Isko, a $22,500 end of the year bonus, which is on top of his $250,351 salary. That is more than five times the average salary of a Classified employee.

At the University of Oregon, football coach Mario Cristobal was granted a new 6-year contract worth a staggering $27.3 million dollars, with the possibility of earning an additional $5 million. This dollar amount could be used to keep our essential workers on the job – something that benefits campus and the surrounding community where most SEIU 503 members live. 

These are examples of misplaced priorities at our public universities. Our tax dollars are being funneled to administrators and sports coaches while students, faculty, and essential workers are suffering. 

We are in the middle of a budget shortfall, dropping enrollment rates, and the likelihood of both staffing cuts and tuition increases. So why are these high-paid employees being offered even more money? Our universities need to get their priorities straight.