OHSU: Cover the Cost of Pay Increases for Research Workers to Avoid Layoffs!

Dr. Danny Jacobs, Qiana Williams, Dr. Peter Barr-Gillespie

What is a raise if you also lose your job? Despite having the money to completely avoid the situation, OHSU Leadership is knowingly laying off Research Workers in the name of implementing a wage increase using grant funding without grant coordination or consultation with the OHSU employees most likely to be impacted. While a wage increase is long overdue, this decision has had no input from researchers and principal investigators (PIs), is needlessly halting research projects, and is impacting the livelihoods and futures of dedicated OHSU workers.

To: Dr. Danny Jacobs, Qiana Williams, Dr. Peter Barr-Gillespie
From: [Your Name]

Dear Dr. Jacobs,

Although it is clear that a pay increase for researchers at OHSU was long overdue, we wish to express our growing concern regarding the execution of OHSU’s recent decision to substantially increase wages for research staff.

Specifically, we are worried about the consequences of your action without further consulting the researchers themselves. We are already hearing from researchers about how issues of timing, process, haste, and an apparent lack of understanding of grant funding realities have characterized how this decision was made and is leading to layoffs that leadership are fully aware of. For many, this will have the opposite impact of a wage increase.

Neither the faculty nor the research workers themselves were engaged in any substantive or systematic way with regard to how the decision to suddenly raise wages could be successfully executed or how it would impact the funding realities for both of these groups. Instead, OHSU has imposed wage increases with little to no guidance regarding how it should be paid for, and without consideration for the timing of the renewal of the research grants that will now bear the burden of the increased cost.

The unintended consequences of this decision have begun to manifest. Already, we have heard from research staff indicating that they have been told they will be laid off or receive reduced workloads because their PIs cannot afford to pay them with the grant money currently available. While we are hopeful that many PIs will find a way to cover these costs without resorting to such harsh measures, it is clear that many will have few other options. This creates an undue burden on both PIs and researchers, rather than improving the inequities the pay increase purports to solve.

We therefore demand that, since leadership created this problem, they must solve it by covering the cost of these pay increases from OHSU’s own growing budget, rather than imposing increases and forcing PIs to figure out how to bear the cost. For the time being, this is the only equitable solution that will maintain our shared standard of quality research at OHSU.

We look forward to your response in this matter,

The undersigned research workers, members of Local 328/GRU/HOU/ONA, and concerned community members.