The Governor is upset with an agreement to give faculty at Western Washington University big raises as part of their new contract.
In a letter to WWU President Bruce Shepard dated June 25, Governor Chris Gregoire expressed "grave concern" over pay increases of as much as 15 percent.
The new contract between WWU and the United Faculty of Western Washington University goes into effect in the fall. Included in the deal are salary increases of 5.25 percent for general faculty, a 10 percent increase for faculty and instructors who are promoted and a 15 percent increase for department chairs.
The governor makes her feelings about the agreement clear.
"My signature is barely dry on the budget - a budget that protected funding for higher education... but we never intended significant salary increases for faculty employees at the same time higher education institutions raise tuition.
"In the worst economic times in 80 years... your agreement seems to ignore the shared sacrifice that other state employees... have made during the Great Recession.”
While faculty is set to get raises, classified staffs at WWU (i.e., secretaries, maintenance workers, etc.) are working under a salary freeze.
Faculty salaries at the University of Washington and Washington State University were frozen by the legislature.
Marty Brown, Director of the State Office of Financial Management (OFM), told KING5 News that the increase sends a bad signal and will make it difficult for the state to negotiate other contracts.
The governor's letter also expressed concern that student tuition might be used to pay for the pay hikes.
Late Tuesday, Western President Shepard responded to the Governor's later via his blog saying, given cuts from the state it would be unreasonable to expect that tuition wouldn't help pay for the pay increases.
WWU regents approved a 16 percent increase in tuition just last month.
Shepard defended the pay increases by saying Western's faculty has gone without raises for the past four years.