Regents approve pay raise for CSN faculty after year-long pandemic delay

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve a 1.75 percent base-pay increase for College of Southern Nevada faculty Thursday — nearly one year to the day after the Board of Regents signed off on a collective bargaining agreement while deferring the raise in the midst of last year’s COVID-19 shutdowns. 

The increase will be paid out retroactively through July 1 of last year at a cost of roughly $1.1 million, including $1 million for salaries pulled from state-supported funds and $113,000 for the one-time bonuses funded by institutional money. 

The pay raise comes as a major victory for CSN faculty, who spent four years negotiating the collective bargaining agreement, in addition to the year-long wait for the increased salaries. 

Luis Ortega, president of the CSN chapter of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, pointed to the money as both a key equalizer for CSN salaries compared to similar institutions in the region — salaries at Reno-area college TMCC are roughly 5 percent more than CSN on average — as well as a much-needed morale boost as the system emerges from the worst economic effects of the pandemic.

“I think this is a great opportunity, not just for CSN faculty, but all faculty of NSHE — that salary increases can happen,” Ortega said. “It hasn't been easy. This is something that took a long time, almost four years, to negotiate. But we have proof, I think. That we can, if we stay together, negotiate.”

Faculty negotiators from CSN couched the vote not as a raise in absolute terms, but as an “adjustment,” noting that a fact-finding report from the collective bargaining process recommended a 2.5 percent increase. With new contract negotiations looming next year, they said today’s vote marks the first “piece of the puzzle” in creating pay equity. 

“I think that we will get there, and it's a must,” Glynda White, former co-chair of CSN’s negotiating team, said. “As you heard from the regents, talk about morale, and the work that we do. But in addition to that, to provide a good working environment with a sustainable living for faculty to be able to recruit qualified academicians to come into the college

Pay issues for faculty across the system have long been a sticking point for faculty advocates, who have complained about few opportunities for raises outside of rare promotions, which have in turn spurred wider issues such as salary compression system-wide. 

Merit pay increases were functionally eliminated a decade ago in the midst of recession-era budget cuts, and only this year did lawmakers formally move to allow regents to use institutional budgets to fund a 1 percent performance pay pool for faculty, or roughly half the 2 percent state-funded pool that existed pre-recession. 

Regents are expected to vote on finalizing that merit pay policy on Friday.