Agreement reached between Universities of Wisconsin and legislators

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

The Universities of Wisconsin announced today that it has reached an agreement with Republican legislators that will provide much-needed funding for an employee pay plan and program development. In exchange, the Universities of Wisconsin has agreed to a reallocation of approximately 43 DEI positions systemwide to serve a broader range of students. You may have already seen news stories about this deal.

This agreement comes after the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) held up the pay plan for university employees even though the full Legislature and governor had approved it.

It is important to note that this deal is not yet final. The Board of Regents is scheduled to vote Saturday on the proposal, which you can read here. After approval by the Board of Regents, components of the agreement would need final approval from two separate legislative committees, one of which is JCOER. Two other components would need full approval by the Wisconsin Legislature and the governor’s signature.

While this agreement requires compromise, it provides UWM with important resources to continue to fulfill our mission of student success and to advance research that impacts communities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and across the globe.

These include:

  • $5 million over two years to expand programs in actuarial science, data analytics, data science, engineering and nursing.
  • Replacement of heating plant chilled water system equipment on the Milwaukee campus, a project critical to maintaining operations.
  • $45.7 million for demolition projects across the system. This includes the Chemistry building.
  • $500,000 more per year from a restructuring of the Minnesota tuition reciprocity agreement. This brings more money into the university without increasing the costs for students or their families.

Additionally, if the agreement is enacted, eligible UWM employees will receive back pay for the pay plan increases that the Legislature approved and the governor signed in July. The general increase will be at least 3.6% this year for eligible employees, with higher percentages for employees with lower wages or salaries. Eligible employees will receive an additional 2% increase next year. The trades contracts for the Universities of Wisconsin and associated pay increases will also be approved.

A critical component of the compromise negotiated by Universities of Wisconsin President Rothman involves diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) staffing on campus. The agreement calls for approximately 43 DEI positions across the Universities of Wisconsin to be reimagined over the next two years to advance a broader suite of student initiatives. These positions will not be lost, but they will evolve. Please know this: Our commitment to our unique access mission and to students from every background remains unchanged.

The agreement announced today is not ideal. It requires us to compromise and adapt to the pressures and world around us. The Universities of Wisconsin saying “no” would have had a significant, negative long-term impact on our students and employees.

The last several months of public negotiations have weighed heavily on our employees and students. Throughout that time, you have continued to do the work to help students earn a degree, change their lives and impact our communities for the better. We will continue to share updates with you about the outcome of the actions taken by the Board of Regents and the Wisconsin Legislature.

Mark A. Mone, PhD