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MSU Faculty Senate calls on the Board of Trustees to retroactively restore benefits and pay

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Michigan State University

Updated Nov. 19, 2021 10:16 AM.

Michigan State University faculty and staff are urging the university’s Board of Trustees to retroactively reinstate pay after being cut last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Certain non-union employees have had their salaries reduced between 1-8% and retirement matches halved and have gone without merit raises for months.

Senate member Jack Lipton says the loss they have incurred during the pandemic is severe.

“If you look at a missing pay raise and say someone was going to get a $2,000 pay raise if it was a 2% or 3% raise, that's missing from your pay for the next 20 or 30 years, that's going to result in a $60,000 or $70,000 drop in your lifetime earnings," he said.

While the university is reinstituting retirement benefits and merit raises in January of 2022, Lipton says these raises only partially mitigate the effects of the more than 6% inflation this year.

"My faculty were really crushed when they learned in September there would be no merit raises after two years without one," he said. "Therefore, the purchasing power of faculty will still be less in January 2022 than it was just a year ago."

According to data collected by the MSU Faculty Senate, President Samuel Stanley Jr. projected the university would receive no federal aid when imposing the cuts, but MSU received more than $86 million in COVID relief dollars as well more than $50 million in student financial aid.

Lipton believes the cuts are part of the reason why the university has seen a high turnover rate among faculty of color.

"The turnover rate in faculty has increased 30% in the last year, with a specific increase among minority faculty of 36% among Hispanic faculty and 60% increase in Black faculty turnover at MSU," he added.

Susan Masten, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is in agreement with Lipton's assessment. She said the reinstitution of retirement benefits and merits won’t make up for what was already lost.

"Faculty and staff need to be made whole, and it can't happen without retroactive restoration of benefits and salary," she added.

So far over 600 faculty and staff members at MSU have signed a petition asking the university for retroactive pay and benefits.

University spokesperson Dan Olsen says the administration appreciates the input from the Faculty Senate.

"The pandemic has been a struggle, including financially for a lot of individuals across the university and the university itself," he said.

Olsen adds MSU will continue to evaluate its financial situation.

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