The Campaign for 10%

Asking for 10% may sound like a lot, but actually 9% is the minimum amount needed to keep higher inflation to date from eroding our wages relative to June 2019, before the pandemic. And based on inflation forecasts, a 10% wage increase would merely keep our wages from falling over June 2019-June 2022, after adjusting for inflation. The AAUP believes we deserve, at bare minimum, to not earn less than we were in 2019, and we believe we deserve a modest raise above cost-of-living increases.

We have all been working more in the pandemic, teaching in multiple modalities, dealing with the many problems students face due to the pandemic. Staff and faculty who work directly with students have also been risking their health and even their lives to keep things going.

So when we ask for 10%, we are not being greedy. We are asking to not make less money for more work. In the near future, we hope our employer will not only give us a cost of living increase, but an actual raise to reward us for our hard work. We hope you agree. Join us at the Middlebury AAUP!

Look at what we are being paid vs. what the endowment earned

But that’s not the only problem here.

We have been told that austerity is a necessity after years of reckless overspending. The Board of Trustees imposed an arbitrary 5% maximum endowment draw to “put us back in shape”, ignoring the Middlebury AAUP Statement of Financial Values which was passed with 95% faculty approval.

But despite larger endowment draws during the pandemic, the endowment has grown substantially in the last few years: Adjusted for inflation it grew 23% between June 2019 – June 2021, while our inflation-adjusted wages fell by 4% during the same period. The college has also continued to increase tuition annually throughout the pandemic – unlike our wages, which were frozen for a year.

The means to pay us have increased but we – the employees – are getting paid less for more work.


Data Sources:

CPI-U: FRED: CPIAUCSL, available here

S&P 500: FRED: SP500 (monthly average), available here

Headline Inflation Forecast: Survey of Professional Forecasters, available here

Midd Endowment Data for FY20, FY21: KPMG (p.20), available here

The AAUP Budget Committee released the following statement earlier today:

It is a hallmark of well-functioning colleges and universities that compensation be both competitive and sufficient to allow modest growth in living standards over the course of a working career.  We are now failing on both fronts:  between July 2019 and February 2022, real wages (i.e., inflation-adjusted wages) have declined 8.3% and, under conservative inflation forecasts, will have declined 9.1% by next July, when our next contracts take effect. In stark terms, our newest faculty and staff colleagues have experienced only declining living standards since committing themselves to Middlebury.

This means that even an 10% wage increase would do no more than restore real wages to pre-pandemic levels.  It would neither compensate us for lost income nor recognize our increased productivity.

It also means that anything less than an 10% increase would represent another wage cut, even as the real value of the endowment has increased 23% between July 2019 and June 2021.  Further, real wage cuts would be inconsistent with the Middlebury AAUP Statement of Financial Values which was passed with 95% faculty approval last spring, and would further undermine the ties that bind us.  For this reason, we are launching a “Campaign For 10 Percent,” which would make us whole and provide for a small increase in real wages.  We urge that the administration embrace it.  It’s the least that should be done.

Note: Data updated on March 11, 2022.