June 8th, 2020 Negotiation Session

Notes contributed by Communications Committee member Dr. Ben Bunting, Humanities and Social Sciences

For this session, OT-AAUP brought three proposals: Grievances, Arbitration, and Compensation.

The Oregon Tech team brought three proposals also: Donated Leave Bank, Leaves, and Fringe Benefits.

The session began with a discussion of the Donated Leave Bank article. The OT team clarified that this article was created by synthesizing resources from SOU and SEIU, with a few exceptions. As the article specifies that applications are limited to temporary hardship (understood as medical issues distinct from sick leave), the OT-AAUP team pointed out that the leave bank would then not be available to victims of domestic abuse.

The article on Leaves was discussed next. To the article’s statement that faculty on sabbatical do not accrue or use sick leave, the OT-AAUP argued that faculty on sabbatical are still employees of the university. The OT team disagreed. There was also discussion about if and when leave applies during inclement weather days. OT argued that campus closure announcements are made before the beginning of work (by 6am); OT-AAUP countered that this has rarely been the case in the past. OT-AAUP argued that faculty should not be responsible for work after campus closure due to weather, as is true for SEIU employees.

The article on Fringe Benefits was discussed third. The OT team argued that this does not need to be a separate article, and should be combined with Health and Welfare, or Working Conditions. OT stated that the university has sole discretion when it comes to staff fee policies, and could even withdraw from negotiating them altogether. OT-AAUP asked for more clarity in the article language about what fees the university will and won’t cover. OT refused to bargain over parking fees on the Klamath Falls campus.

Next up was the article on Grievances. There was a brief discussion about clarifying the language around deadlines in this article. In particular, can the grievance process be fairly carried out during periods when a faculty member is off-contract? The OT-AAUP team says potentially not, while the OT team says yes, and if a faculty member is off-contract in the midst of the process they have a responsibility to check in regularly regarding the status of that grievance. The OT team agreed to discuss further in caucus.

Arbitration was discussed next. There was some discussion regarding how arbitrators are chosen, and how the list of potential arbitrators is generated. The OT team pointed out that, as written, the article could be seen to suggest that the decision over whether or not something can be arbitrated is made late in the process, potentially wasting time and energy if preparation for arbitration begins, only to then discover later that a given issue cannot be arbitrated. The OT-AAUP team agreed to reconsider this wording, then there was a break for lunch/caucus.

After the break Compensation was discussed. There was some initial discussion regarding the usefulness of the comparator data that OT-AAUP was using. The OT team argued that the data OT-AAUP was using did not represent financial “reality”; the OT-AAUP team countered that they are using actual yearly financial data from the university to inform their work. The OT team agreed to discuss this article before the next meeting.

As a final comment, the OT team stated that they will be sending out information this week pertaining to an early retirement incentive program, in hopes of encouraging some employees to voluntarily leave the university during this time of budget cuts.

June 1st, 2020 Negotiation Session

Notes contributed by Communications Committee member Dr. Ben Bunting, Humanities and Social Sciences

For this session, the OT-AAUP team proposed two articles: Personnel Files and Workload and Overload Compensation.

The Oregon Tech team proposed one article: Sabbaticals.

The session began with discussion of the Sabbaticals proposal. There was discussion as to why the article, as proposed, excluded NTT faculty from taking sabbaticals. The OT team said that faculty who don’t have a research emphasis (like NTT faculty) don’t need to take sabbaticals. OT also argued that approval for sabbaticals should be at the sole discretion of the Provost. Next, OT asked the union how salary would be calculated if someone was approved for sabbatical, but then changed the timeline. The OT-AAUP team pointed out that cutting the already low rate that faculty are paid for sabbatical makes them less likely to apply for the “full,” three-term sabbatical. After discussion of examples, the OT team suggested that they would be willing to reconsider the pay rate put forth in the article. OT’s version of this article says that faculty cannot use a sabbatical to finish a degree. Both sides discussed this; OT-AAUP asked why this wasn’t allowed, and OT explained that finishing a degree was “personal leave” that does not benefit OIT. The OT-AAUP team disagreed, arguing that there is already a precedent for faculty using sabbatical time to finish degrees here. OT used the same argument to deny that sabbaticals can be used to take one-year visiting positions. Finally, the OT-AAUP team argued again that incentivizing our faculty to take a sabbatical in order to get their terminal degree would be to the university’s benefit.

There was very brief discussion about the Personnel File article, and then the OT team decided to discuss it in caucus.

There was a slightly longer discussion of the Workload article. This came after discussions of the article’s content and supporting information from members of the OT-AAUP team. OT-AAUP had not generated a costing document for their proposal yet; the OT team said they planned to do this. The OT-AAUP team emphasized during discussion that they want to find a way to meaningfully quantify a minimum required amount of non-instructional workload.

The next negotiation session was held on June 8th, from 10am until 2pm. Notes from this session will be posted shortly.

Letter From The OT-AAUP Bargaining Team In Response To The Employer’s Refusal To Bargain

As you may already know, our negotiating team has experienced a number of frustrations due to the obstructionist nature of the administration’s response to their attempts at negotiation. In particular, the team is concerned about the administration’s refusal to bargain articles on Intellectual Property, Appointments (Academic Rank), Promotion For Non-Tenure-Track Faculty, and Position Descriptions.

The OT-AAUP team has prepared a letter expressing their objections, which you can view at the link, or embedded below:

Letter from Faculty Leadership to Oregon Tech

May 18th, 2020 Negotiation Session

Notes contributed by Communications Committee member Dr. Ben Bunting, Humanities and Social Sciences

For this session, the OT-AAUP team proposed two articles: No Strike/No Lockout and Promotion and Tenure for NTTF. The team also introduced a letter expressing their concern over the Oregon Tech team’s recent refusal to bargain particular articles.

The Oregon Tech team proposed three articles: Notices of Appointment, Release Time (this was a costing document related to the Release Time article, not a counter), and Dues Deduction.

The OT team put forward the Notices of Appointment article first. They suggested moving some of the language be moved into another article (e.g., Working Conditions). They do not intend to negotiate the majority of the article. The OT-AAUP team clarified that they saw part of the value of this article being that it would establish a concrete timeline for appointment, which has been inconsistent in the past. The practices of other universities were discussed, and OT-AAUP reiterated that we need a consistent timeline for notices of appointment in the future. The OT-AAUP team also asked why the language requiring salary information in the notices had been removed. The OT team argued that this was “duplicate information” and wasn’t necessary. The OT-AAUP team decided to discuss the article further in caucus.

The next item discussed was a costing document related to the Release Time article. The OT team discussed the costing document, and there was a very brief discussion.

Next up was No Strike/No Lockout. There was more discussion as to whether picketing done outside of scheduled work should be considered an “interruption of work” or not. No progress was made in the discussion.

Then, the OT-AAUP team introduced their article on Promotion and Tenure for NTT Faculty. The team began by pointing out that the vast majority of the wording in this article is based in existing policy. Then, they went over the few changes that were made beyond that wording. The OT team agreed to discuss in caucus.

After a recess, Dues Deduction was discussed. The OT team suggested that this article be combined with Association Rights. They also suggested a few other, minor changes, which the OT-AAUP team agreed to discuss in caucus.

Finally, the teams discussed the letter drafted by the OT-AAUP team (linked above). The OT team argued that there was no legal precedent that requires them to negotiate on these particular issues, and that the OT-AAUP team’s letter does not change their position. The OT-AAUP team asked the OT team why, in other cases, universities have CBAs that include these articles: the OT team had no answer for them.

The next negotiation session was held on June 1st, from 10am until 2pm. Notes from this session will be posted shortly.