July 15, 2020 Negotiation Session

Notes contributed by OT-AAUP bargaining team member Dr. David Johnston, Natural Sciences, with minor edits by Communications Committee Member Dr. Ben Bunting, Humanities and Social Sciences

The OT-AAUP and Oregon Tech negotiating teams met on Wednesday, July 15, to continue the second bargaining round of the summer. OT-AAUP presented counter-proposals on Notices of Appointment and Academic Classification and Rank (previously called Appointments), and the Oregon Tech team presented counter-proposals on Personnel Files, Working Conditions, and Promotion and Tenure.

Personnel Files
The Oregon Tech team began by presenting their counter on Personnel Files. The team agreed, in their proposal, to include the language from the Association’s proposal that would allow a bargaining unit member to petition to have perceived erroneous information removed from or to have possibly omitted information added to their Personnel File. They also agreed to add language that stated any material that was not available in electronic format would either be scanned or made available as a paper copy. Both parties Tentatively Agreed to the Personnel File Article and both chief negotiators signed the Proposal.

Working Conditions
Next, the Oregon Tech team presented their counter proposal on Working Conditions. The Oregon Tech team stated that their intention for this article was to focus on Health and Safety and, in a very broad sense, on offices and facilities. Not surprisingly, their proposal seemed to be written with the intent to preserve as many management rights as possible. The OT-AAUP team viewed the proposal as a minimum proposal and were dismayed that the Oregon Tech team did not seem to address any of the Association’s concerns laid out in their original proposal. For example, Oregon Tech’s proposal stated that it was Oregon Tech’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment, and that employees should report any unsafe working conditions immediately. However, there was no explanation of how those issues would be resolved or a timeline provided to address said issues. Additionally, the Administration team’s proposal said nothing about providing each bargaining unit member with an office, desk, and computer, or how often the computer would be replaced. In light of many past examples where bargaining unit members were not provided with said equipment, the Association team stated that they were looking for more specificity, and that would be reflected in their counter proposal. Lastly, the Association team was further dismayed by Oregon Tech’s proposal that faculty need only be given notice of fourteen (14) calendar days to change offices and one (1) term to be transferred to a different campus location.

Promotion and Tenure
The Oregon Tech team then explained that they would not be providing a counter proposal to the Association’s original proposal on Promotion and Tenure, stating that it was their belief this was a permissive subject of bargaining, as it sought to establish criteria for promotion and tenure, which, the Oregon Team asserted, are management rights. When the OT-AAUP team pointed out that a Promotion and Tenure article was originally included on Oregon Tech’s list of articles it was likely to propose, the Oregon Tech team reminded the Association teams that the list was non-binding. The OT-AAUP team acknowledged that the list was non-binding, but was wanting to know what might have changed between when the list was proposed and the current time. The Oregon Tech team responded that Oregon Tech leadership no longer felt that article was necessary, and that to move the University forward, the leadership wanted to have flexible policies. The OT-AAUP team responded that their initial Proposal was largely based on the current policy and that the Association was not asking for anything drastically new. Additionally, while the Association team acknowledged that criteria for promotion is a permissive subject, the timeline and procedure for promotion are mandatory subjects of bargaining as they have a direct impact on the working conditions of the bargaining unit members. The Oregon Tech team replied that if the Association were to counter with a proposal that addressed only mandatory subjects, the Administration might consider it. The OT-AAUP team stated that they would discuss this issue further in caucus, and that they would notify their membership that Oregon Tech was not willing to bargain over issues that are very important to many members.

Notices of Appointment
Next, the OT-AAUP team presented their counter proposal on Notices of Appointment. The Association team clarified that the information OT-AAUP was asking to be included on Notices of Appointment was not anything new, but was information that is currently included on annual Notices of Appointment. The Association team explained that it was the desire of OT-AAUP to set a well established timeline for sending out Notices of Appointment that the University would have to adhere to, since, in the past, there were instances of individuals getting Notices of Appointment at very different times. The Oregon Tech team stated they would review the proposal in caucus.

Academic Classifications and Rank
Lastly, the OT-AAUP team re-presented their article on Academic Classifications and Rank, which was previously called Appointments, and, which, the Oregon Tech team had initially dismissed as permissive. The Association team reiterated that the types of classifications and ranks that were included in the Article were well-defined and established at Oregon Tech. Additionally, since a bargaining unit member’s salary is directly based on their classification and rank, it should be a mandatory subject of bargaining. The Oregon Tech team seemed to suggest that it was up to the leadership of the University to decide what constituted a Professor vs. an Associate Professor vs. an Instructor vs. a Senior Instructor, and that those definitions could be changed solely at the discretion of the Oregon Tech leadership. When it was pointed out to the Oregon Tech team that many CBAs at other universities have this type of article, their response was simply that that was the other institution’s decision, but that Oregon Tech was not interested in including such an article. Again, the OT-AAUP team urged the Oregon Tech team to reconsider their position and argued that it would be difficult to continue other discussions without first establishing these baseline terms. The Oregon Tech team stated that they would review and discuss the article further in caucus.

July 14, 2020 Negotiation Session

Notes contributed by OT-AAUP bargaining team member Dr. David Johnston, Natural Sciences, with minor edits by Communications Committee Member Dr. Ben Bunting, Humanities and Social Sciences

On Tuesday, July 14, the OT-AAUP and Oregon Tech negotiating teams met for their second bargaining session of the Summer. The OT-AAUP team presented counter proposals on Arbitration, Grievances, Sick Leave Pool (previously called Donated Leave Bank), and Personnel Files. The Oregon Tech team presented counter proposals on Personnel Files and Association Rights.

Sick Leave Pool
The Association team began by presenting their counter proposal to the Donated Leave Bank article, which was retitled Sick Leave Pool. The OT-AAUP team explained that this proposal was largely based on the proposed Sick Leave Pool Policy that was presented to Faculty Senate on March 30, 2020. The most significant discussion took place around the Association’s proposal to allow Unclassified Staff to participate in the Sick Leave Pool. This proposal was based on the belief that there were on the order of 50 unclassified employees at Oregon Tech and they could benefit from having access to a larger pool. The Oregon Tech team clarified that there are approximately 150 unclassified staff at Oregon Tech; furthermore, they explained that it would not be legal to include unclassified staff in an article in this CBA since they are not represented by OT-AAUP. Given these facts, the Association team agreed that it would remove that language in their next counter-proposal. The Oregon Tech team also clarified that the 80 hours of COVID leave is set to expire at some point, as mandated by Federal law; therefore, those hours could not be donated into the Sick Leave Pool. The Oregon Tech team stated they would review the proposal further in caucus.

Grievances
Next, the Association team presented their counter proposal on Grievances. The team highlighted the main changes; firstly, a desire to compromise in the time limit for presenting a grievance at 45 days, [the Associations initial proposal had a time limit of 60 days, and the Administration’s initial proposal had a time limit of 30 days]; secondly, a proposal to change some language concerning what happens if either party fails to respond or meet deadlines to make the language more equitable, [in Oregon Tech’s proposal they suggested that if the Association or the Grievant misses a deadline the Grievance would be considered withdrawn and could not be resubmitted. However, if the Administration were to miss a deadline the Grievance would simply move to the next level. The Association proposed changing this so that if the Administration missed a deadline the Grievant’s proposed remedy to the situation would be granted.]; thirdly, the Association explained their rationale behind including a procedure for an informal Grievance resolution process, and explained that the main difference between an Informal and a Formal Grievance would be whether the Grievance was accompanied with the Grievance form; lastly, the Association explained their desire to keep the timelines around Grievances that involve discrimination or sexual harrassment, in order to provide more avenues for bargaingn unit members to resolve complaints. The Oregon Tech team did not respond directly to the proposed 45 day time limit to file a Grievance. However, they did voice concern over the proposed language change around the consequences of either party missing a deadline. In response, the Association team thanked them for their feedback. The Administration team stated that their could be a path forward to include an informal resolution procedure in the article, but they were not interested in including any language about extending the Grievance deadlines for discrimination or sexual harassment. They said they would discuss the article further in caucus.

Arbitration
The OT-AAUP team next presented their counter-proposal on Arbitration. The Association clarified their position around mediation, explaining that it was not the Association’s intention to force Oregon Tech into mediation, but to strongly encourage the parties to use Mediation to settle Grievances rather than Arbitration, since Mediation is a much cheaper and far less adversarial process. The Oregon Tech team seemed to agree with this argument and understood that the Request for Mediation would not be submitted to the ERB until both parties had agreed. The parties also discussed the timeline of Arbitration and when it would be appropriate to have an Arbitrator decide whether the issue being grieved is arbitratible. There seemed to be agreement that the language should reflect both parties’ desire to minimize costs. There was not further substantive discussion, and the Administration team said they would review the proposal in caucus.

Personnel Files (Oregon Tech)
Prior to caucusing, the Oregon Tech team presented their counter proposal on Personnel Files. Their new counter proposal was much more inline with the Association’s previous proposals, though, it was noted, that the Administration’s proposal still did not contain language allowing an employee to address perceived errors or omissions in the file. The OT-AAUP team stated they would review the proposal in cacuss and would likely present a counter, since it appeared the teams were getting close to agreement.

Personnel Files (OT-AAUP)
After cacussing, the OT-AAUP team presented a counter to Oregon Tech’s Personnel File proposal, explaining that the main differences were language around allowing bargaining unit members access to paper copies if digital copies were not available, and allowing bargaining unit members the ability to address perceived errors or omissions in their file. The Oregon Tech team stated they would discuss this counter in caucus.

Association Rights
Lastly, the Oregon Tech team presented their counter proposal to Association Rights. Of major discussion was the Administration’s proposal that the Association provide not only a list of the executive officers elected by the bargaining unit members, but also a detailed list of their duties and responsibilities and an estimate for the amount of time those duties and responsibilities would take. The OT-AAUP team’s main concern was that, given this is a new Association and a first contract, it might be very difficult to get an accurate estimate for the amount of time the duties and responsibilities would take, and did not want to agree, in writing to a certain time, only to discover that it would in fact take quite a bit more or quite a bit less. The Oregon Tech team responded that since this was a first contract and a new relationship, this level of detail would facilitate the new relationship between Oregon Tech and OT-AAUP. The Oregon Tech team also clarified that they would only grant OT-AAUP time to speak to members at employee orientation, but not at any other University wide forums. Additionally, the Oregon Tech team agreed to include University ID numbers in the data on members that it will provide to the Association, but proposed to only provide that information twice a year, rather than each quarter. Finally, there was discussion over when and what type of budget would be delivered to the Association. The Association requested that a detailed budget be made available to the Association no later than July 14, but the Oregon Tech team suggested it be made available within 14 days of being loaded in the Budget Office software. The OT-AAUP team voiced concern that there would be no way for the Association to know when this was happening, and so, no way to confirm if in fact the information was delivered in a timely manner. The Oregon Tech team responded that, based on these conversations, it was likely that there could be agreement about these dates. The Association team then asked if it were possible for the Oregon Tech team to produce examples of the types of budget reports that were possible to create using the current budget software. The Administration team said they would look into that.

OT-AAUP Email To The Provost, July 1st 2020

On July 1st 2020, OT-AAUP President Dr. Sean St.Clair sent an email to Oregon Tech’s Provost concerning our administration’s proposed changes to the stipend-release model. In the interest of transparency, you can read the full text of that message below:

Dear Provost Mott;

It has come to our attention that you are planning to make significant changes to the Workload Guidelines and end the current practice of providing release time or a stipend to faculty who serve as program directors and/or provide other academic functions as described in the Academic Release Time & Stipend Model dated 5/10/2013. These are changes in working conditions for the members of our bargaining unit. Since workload is a mandatory subject of bargaining, the changes you are proposing may only be made through the bargaining process.

We therefore insist that, should you wish to make this change to faculty workload and working conditions, you do so through the normal bargaining process, and that you immediately cease the unilateral implementation of changes to both the Workload Guidelines and the Academic Release Time & Stipend Model. Additionally, we request that anyone to whom these policies have been sent be informed that they are merely proposals and have not been adopted but will be addressed at the bargaining table. On the advice of our chapter counsel, we will file an Unfair Labor Practice complaint if you persist in implementing these changes.

We request that you respond by the end of business on July 10, 2020 confirming that you will not implement these policies.

Sean St.Clair on behalf of Oregon Tech AAUP Executive Committee