March 11, 2010
Judge upholds freeze of UW faculty salaries
On March 8, King County Superior Court Judge Carol Schapira upheld the UW’s decision last spring to temporarily suspend pay increases for its faculty due to the state budget situation. The lawsuit, filed in October by a professor at the UW’s Bothell campus, claimed that UW had wrongfully denied 2 percent raises that had been promised to all “meritorious” faculty members. Had they been granted, the raises would have cost the University roughly $6 million this school year.
The lawsuit was based on an executive order issued by then-President Richard McCormick in 2000. The executive order provided for annual pay increases of at least two percent for all faculty whose performance was “meritorious.”
Last spring, as the University faced a significant cut in state funding, President Mark Emmert and Provost Phyllis Wise worked with the faculty to formally suspend the merit pay policy. The UW Board of Regents then voted to approve that suspension. In October, business professor Peter Nye of the Bothell campus sued the University, claiming that the suspension of raises was an illegal breach of contract. Judge Schapira today dismissed the case in its entirety.
The University’s Regents and administration continue to be concerned about the competitiveness of faculty compensation. Faced with state funding cuts and layoffs of hundreds of employees and other program reductions, the University decided the suspension of faculty raises was necessary.