August 11, 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, August 11, the OT-AAUP and Oregon Tech negotiating teams met for their fourth bargaining session of the Summer. The OT-AAUP team presented a counter proposal on Working Conditions. The Oregon Tech team presented a counter proposal on Sabbaticals and a new proposal on Force Majeure.

Working Conditions
After some discussion on scheduling future meeting dates and the Associations Unfair Labor Practice complaint, the Association presented their article on Working Conditions. The Association explained that one of the changes they made was to include the Administration’s language around performing tasks that are “imminently hazardous,” but explained that the Association sought to clarify the language. The Administration responded that they felt the Association’s language was actually more confusing, but after discussion, understood the Associations intent and stated that they would discuss the issue further in caucus. The OT-AAUP team also pointed out that they had adopted the Administration’s language around the right of the University to reassign a faculty member to a different office or even to a different campus, but still wanted to include language that would give the faculty member sufficient notice. Lastly, the parties discussed some wording over training, where the Association clarified that it was not their intent to allow a bargaining unit member to choose whether or not to attend training, rather, it was the Association’s position that the University should provide safety training and the faculty member must attend said training.

Sabbaticals
Following a brief caucus, the Oregon Tech team presented their counter proposal on Sabbaticals. The Administration team explained that they added language to allow for consultations between the Provost’s office and a committee that could make recommendations to the Provost regarding sabbaticals, but that the ultimate decision would be up to the Provost. After the Association Teams asked about the possibility of a faculty member using a sabbatical to pursue a doctoral or terminal degree, the Oregon Tech team explained that, in general, that was not the purpose of sabbaticals, but that the language in their proposal allowed for the Provost to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Force Majeure
Next, the Oregon Tech team presented their Force Majeure proposal. The Administration Team explained that, while this proposal was uncommon in CBAs in higher education, it was fairly standard in private and public labor contracts. Essentially, a Force Majeure article would give Oregon Tech the right to suspend either the entire CBA or certain provisions of the CBA in certain qualified circumstances, as outlined in the Force Majeure article. The Association team felt that current statutes, as well as other articles within the CBA, already address the concerns raised by the Administration, as such, the Associations team was not interested in pursuing discussions of this article.

Response To July 28 Session Proposals
Lastly, the Administration’s team responded to the Association’s proposals on Shared Governance, Appeals, and Annual Evaluations of Faculty, from the July 28 session. The Oregon Tech team explained that it was their position that these articles, specifically Appeals and Shared Governance, were permissive, and that the Administration had no interest in discussing these issues at the bargaining table. The Oregon Tech team did concede that there were some aspects of the Association’s Annual Evaluations of Faculty proposal that were mandatory, and that they would entertain an article that contained just those components. When the OT-AAUP team explained that they understood these articles were permissive, but that they were issues important to their members, and that they were articles that have appeared in other higher education CBAs, the Oregon Tech team explained that they Association would need to explain to their members that the Administration was not going to engage the faculty, through OT-AAUP, at the bargaining table over these issues. The OT-AAUP team responded by, once more, asking for the report on Shared Governance at OIT, which the administration has refused to release in full, and explaining that shared governance has not been an effective venue for resolving said issues, which is my the Association is bringing these issues to the Administration’s attention at the negotiating table.

July 29, 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 29, to continue the third bargaining round of the summer. OT-AAUP presented a proposal on Annual Evaluation of Faculty, and the Oregon Tech team presented a counter-proposal on Workload.

Workload
The Oregon Tech team went first and presented their proposal on Workload. It should be noted that timing of the presentation of this proposal seemed to closely align with the Associations notification to Oregon Tech of its intention to file an Unfair Labor Practice suit with the Oregon Employment Relation Board, over Oregon Tech’s unilateral implementation of changes in established workload guidelines. Furthermore, since the Administration’s proposal was almost entirely based on the “new” workload guidelines put forward by the Provost’s Office, coupled with the fact that the Administration’s team seemed unprepared to answer basic questions about their proposal, the OT-AAUP team felt that the timing was more than a mere coincidence. It is impossible, here, to adequately convey the disappointment felt by the Association’s Bargaining team at the Administration’s proposal, although hardly surprised, given their attempt to implement almost identical guidelines outside the bargaining process. Some of the more egregious points of Oregon Tech’s Workload Proposal was the attempt to increase the 9-month 1.0 FTE for tenured/tenure-track faculty from 39 WLU to 45 WLU, the discontinuation of counting Student Advising as part of WLU, in spite of the fact that some faculty advise upwards of 40 students, and the inclusion of a mandated 5 office hours per week. Lacking from the proposal was a definition of exactly what 1 WLU was, when the Association Team asked about this, the Administration’s team responded that it was a management right to define that, and would do so at a later time. As mentioned previously, when the Association team pressed for further explanations about the intent behind some aspects of the proposal, the response from Oregon Tech’s bargaining team was that they would have to review their notes and would discuss the Association’s comments and concerns in caucus.

Annual Evaluations of Faculty
After the caucus, the OT-AAUP team presented their proposal on Annual Evaluations of Faculty. The Association’s team explained that it was the intent of this proposal to retain current University Policies, but to ensure that they were being followed and applied consistently, and that the Evaluations were tied directly to criteria for Promotion, for both tenure and non-tenure track faculty, and Tenure, as this has sometimes been an issue in the past. The Association further clarified that it was not the intent of the proposal to set or define the criteria, merely to establish that those criteria needed to be clearly conveyed to faculty members that Annual Evaluations needed to be tied to those and only those criteria. The Administration’s team stated that they felt this proposal could be entirely permissive, but said they would discuss it further in caucus.

July 28, 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 28, the OT-AAUP and Oregon Tech negotiating teams met for their third bargaining session of the Summer. Terri Torres, Professor of Mathematics, joined the OT-AAUP negotiating team as a new member. The OT-AAUP team presented a counter proposal on Fringe Benefits, and two new proposals on Appeals and Shared Governance. The Oregon Tech team presented counter proposals on Program Elimination/Retrenchment and Professional Development, and re-presented their proposals on Term of Agreement and Negotiation of Successor Agreement.

Program Elimination/Retrenchment
The Oregon Tech team began by presenting their counter proposal on Program Elimination/Retrenchment. The Oregon Tech team explained that their proposal was designed to give maximum flexibility and discretion to Oregon Tech and its President regarding matters of program reduction and declarations of financial exigency. They stressed that it was the intention of the proposal to allow Oregon Tech to take whatever measures are necessary to address changing needs as quickly as possible, and, in the case of financial exigency, to return to the University to profitability as quickly as possible. Although not included in their proposal, the Administration Team indicated that they might be open to including a recall provision for Faculty members who were retrenched, as long as it did not restrict the University’s options. The Association Bargaining Team was very dismayed by this proposal. In particular, the Association pointed out that the Administration’s entire proposal seemed to be dismissive of Oregon Tech Faculty’s dedication to the institution; and, that the Association was concerned with the broad discretionary powers given to the President and lack of involvement with Faculty Senate or OT-AAUP in deciding these crucial matters. In response, the Oregon Tech team stated that nothing in their proposal precluded Oregon Tech from including Faculty Senate in Program Reduction/Retrenchment discussions, but that it was at the discretion of the Administration.

Professional Development
The Administration team then presented their counter proposal on Professional Development. Rather than agreeing to provide every faculty member with a certain amount, the Administration’s proposal stated that funds would be distributed as the University’s budget allows and would be disbursed according to policies to be developed by each College. Additionally, their proposal stated that the funds would be awarded competitively, but did not clarify what that meant. When the Association expressed concerns that this Proposal might result in an inequitable distribution of funds, the Administration stated that there would be language in the yet to be developed policies that would prioritize folks, but did not guarantee that everyone would have access to professional development funds. The Administration team did state that they may be open to language similar to what appears in Oregon State’s CBA, which says that the policies will be developed in consultation with faculty and that no faculty member would be denied access to funds arbitrarily. Lastly, when the Association team expressed disappointment in the apparent direction the Administration was taking, the Administration responded that they are trying to look after the interests of the University and that there may be some room for negotiation.

Term of Agreement and Negotiation of Successor Agreement
Finally, the Administration team presented their counter proposals on Term of Agreement and Negotiation of Successor Agreement. The Oregon Tech team explained that, based on the assumption that initial negotiations, including ratification, could extend into early 2021, they were proposing a 4 year Term of Agreement to extend to June 30, 2025. The Administration team explained that they felt a longer Term of Agreement would allow Oregon Tech to better plan financially and provide more stability for the University. As for the Negotiation of Successor Agreement, the Oregon Tech team proposed that the parties would give notice of which parts of the CBA they would like to open for negotiation during the period of September 15 – October 15, 2024, and that negotiations would start in the Fall of 2024 and finish by June 30, 2025, with any lingering issues resolved by the beginning of the Fall 2025 term. The Association team stated that they would discuss these proposals in caucus.

Fringe Benefits
After caucus, the OT-AAUP team first presented their counter proposal on Fringe Benefits. The Oregon Tech team first asked if the Association had done a cost analysis on the proposed 50% reduction in parking fees for faculty. The Association responded that they were unable to perform such an analysis since the Association did not know how many bargaining unit members purchased parking permits last year. The Oregon Tech team further suggested that any loss in revenue due to a decrease in parking fees could result in an inability to properly maintain parking lots. The Administration team asked for clarification about what fee the Association was asking that faculty pay for use of the Gym facilities. The Association team stated that they wanted to keep the status-quo and pay the same rate faculty currently pay, which is the same as the rate students pay. In response to OT-AAUP’s proposal that faculty members be allowed to have two family members participate in the Tuition Staff Fee program, the Administration’s team asked if the Association had any data on interest in this among the faculty, or if they knew how many faculty currently took advantage of this program. The Association responded that they did not, but argued that it seemed to be in Oregon Tech’s interest to encourage more people to attend the University. Following this, there was a protracted discussion around the proposal to compensate bargaining unit members for going through a visa or visa renewal process, in accordance with appropriate laws. The Association explained that it was their intention to make sure that Oregon Tech followed the law for all bargaining unit members, as there were cases where this, allegedly, did not happen. The Administration stated that of course they would follow the law, and requested that anyone who felt they were not being treated equitably or being assisted within the limits of the law to bring up the matter with HR.

Shared Governance
OT-AAUP then presented their proposal on Shared Governance. It was the Administration Team’s view that this was not a mandatory subject, and that it would be problematic to include an article that dealt with an organization outside of OT-AAUP, in the CBA. The Association attempted to clarify that it was not it’s intent to define any roles of Faculty Senate or any other body outside the purview of OT-AAUP, but that the Association merely wanted to clarify to its members what were the responsibilities of the Faculty Senate and OT-AAUP under this new CBA, and to emphasize that Oregon Tech was committed to shared governance. The Oregon Tech team again expressed their concern over having a proposal of this nature in the CBA, and said they would discuss it further in caucus.

Appeals
Lastly, the Association presented their proposal on Appeals. The Association team explained that the intention of this Proposal was not to override an Academic Judgement, but to provide a venue for bargaining unit members to appeal a decision on the grounds that errors or omissions may have been made in the review of the faculty member’s portfolio. The Administration Team stated that as long as the Association Team understood that this article was permissive, they would discuss it further in caucus.

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

June 24th, 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, June 24, to continue the first bargaining round of the summer. All team members from Tuesday’s session were present for the Wednesday session. OT-AAUP presented counter-proposals on Outside Activities and Sabbaticals, and the Oregon Tech team presented a counter-proposal on Grievances.

Grievances
The Oregon Tech team began by presenting their counter on Grievances. They explained that while they agreed with the Association’s position that it is better to settle grievances informally, if possible, including a section in the article detailing the informal process, made it seem like a formal process. Thus, their suggestion was to emphasize, in the Grievances article, that both Parties agree that it is advantageous to settle grievances informally, whenever possible. The Association team explained that their main reasoning behind including an explicit informal procedure, was the desire to have a written record that the grievance was addressed and resolved at the informal level. The Association team said they would take this under advisement and discuss the matter in caucus. Following this, there was a prolonged discussion and clarification about what matters could actually be grieved under the Grievances article, and what the timelines should be for such grievances. In the Association’s prior proposal, they had included a time frame of 180 days for filing a grievance alleging prohibited discrimination and a time frame of 5 years for filing a grievance alleging discriminatory harrassment. It was the view of Oregon Tech that, since those matters deal with allegations of a violation of a statute, they would be investigated through a different process. Namely the Title IX process for matters of discriminatory harassment, and an internal process for matters of prohibited discrimination. The Oregon Tech team explained that the Grievances article is meant to address alleged violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, NOT violations of University Policy or State or Federal law. The Association thanked the Oregon Tech team for clarifying the issue, and said they would talk about this in caucus and would try to include language to make this issue clear to all bargaining unit members. The Oregon Tech team then went on to raise the issue of how best to balance an individual bargaining unit member’s right to privacy when bringing forward a grievance, with the Association’s right to be notified of a grievance. It was proposed that including language in the section where it states that a grievant can either represent themselves or ask for representation through the Association, that despite their choice, the Association will be notified of all formal grievances. The parties seemed to agree that this would be an acceptable compromise. Lastly, there was discussion over whether timelines would be automatically modified to account for recess in between terms and, in particular, to account for summer break, when many faculty are “off-contact.” The Association’s position was that timelines should be automatically modified to exclude these times in timeline calculations, but that the inclusion of the language stating that the parties could mutually agree to modify the timelines could be used to address the issue of continuing a grievance procedure through a term or summer break. It was Oregon Tech’s position that even though a bargaining unit member is “off-contract” they are still covered by the collective bargaining agreement and are still employees of Oregon Tech. As such, it would not be reasonable to automatically exclude term and summer breaks when calculating timelines. At this point, a member of the Oregon Tech team had an unprofessional outburst, expressing anger at the idea that some faculty do not reply to emails, particularly to students, during breaks. The Association team was greatly dismayed by this extremely disrespectful behavior, and, in particular, at the choice of wording employed by the individual. After everyone calmed down, the Association team said they would discuss the Grievance article in caucus, and would likely have a counter proposal soon.

Sabbatical Leaves
Next, the Association team presented their counterproposal on Sabbatical Leaves. The biggest discussion occurred around the fact that in Oregon Tech’s counterproposal, they had proposed limiting sabbaticals to tenured faculty. The OT-AAUP team argued that sabbaticals could be equally advantageous for both tenured and non-tenure track faculty. When asked to explain their rationale behind excluding non-tenure track faculty, the Oregon Tech team explained that it was their belief that non-tenure track faculty would not be long term employees, and, as such, it would not be to the University’s benefit to award those faculty members a sabbatical. Additionally, the Oregon Tech team stated that since a non-tenure track faculty member is not expected to engage in scholarly or creative work, a sabbatical would be of little use to those faculty members. In response, the OT-AAUP team pointed out that in order for ANY faculty member to be eligible for sabbatical they must be with Oregon Tech for a full six years. The team argued that anyone who has been with Oregon Tech for six years, whether they are tenured or not, has shown a commitment to the University, so the University should show an equally strong commitment to them. Additionally, the Association team pointed out that, given the unique nature of Oregon Tech, sabbaticals have not only been used to engage in scholarship or creative works. They have been used to earn an advanced degree, to work in industry and then bring that experience back to the classroom, and even to improve a faculty member’s teaching. The Association argued that all of these benefit not just the individual faculty member, but also benefit the University. Lastly, the Association stated that granting sabbaticals to non-tenure track faculty would allow them to be more competitive in applying for a tenure track position that might open up at Oregon Tech, and denying them the opportunity for sabbatical would unfairly disadvantage them. The OT-AAUP team strongly encouraged the Oregon Tech team to seriously discuss this issue and hoped that they would adopt this stance. Then the OT-AAUP team explained their rationale for choosing the pay schedule that was presented in the proposal. The Association team noted that they had brought the rates down a bit, but felt that anything less than what was proposed would dissuade faculty from applying for sabbaticals. The Oregon Tech team did not have any comments or questions about the rest of the article.

Outside Activities
Lastly, the OT-AAUP team presented their counterproposal on Outside Activities. The main point that the Association made was their belief that the University should not have any say in what a bargaining unit member does when they are not specifically engaged in work for Oregon Tech. Additionally, the Association argued that, for this first CBA, people who are currently employed outside Oregon Tech and might be in violation of this article, be given 90 days to seek approval for their employment, before they must terminate it. The only question from the Oregon Tech team was whether it was the intention of the Association to limit the ability of Oregon Tech to place restrictions on what type of behavior, particularly criminal behavior, bargaining unit members can engage in during their personal time. The Association stated that it was not their intention to limit that, so it was suggested that including some language stating that as long as a bargaining unit member’s activities did not violate state or federal law the University could not restrict their outside activities. The Oregon Tech team stated they would discuss the article in caucus and would present a counter proposal at a later time.

Next Sessions
The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, July 14 and 15. If you wish to join, a Zoom link is available on the OT-AAUP website’s calendar page.

June 23rd, 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, June 23, the OT-AAUP and Oregon Tech negotiating teams met for their first bargaining session of the Summer. Representing OT-AAUP was chief negotiator Cristina Negoita, Professor of Mathematics; Stephen Schultz, Professor of Medical Imaging; Matt Search, Associate Professor of Communication; Karen Kunz, Information Systems Librarian; David Johnston, Instructor of Natural Science; and, joining the team as a permanent alternate, Kevin Pintong, Associate Professor of CSET. Representing Oregon Tech was chief negotiator Brian Caufield; Maureen De Armond, Associate VP of Human Resources; Abdy Afjeh, Associate Provost of Research and Academic Affairs; Tom Keyser, Dean of ETM; Dan Peterson, Dean of HAS; Brian Moravec, Associate Dean of ETM; and Stephanie Pope, Assistant VP for Budget and Resource Planning.

For this session, OT-AAUP brought three proposals: Academic Freedom, Professional Development, and Association Rights.

The Oregon Tech team brought a proposal on Arbitration.

Arbitration
The teams began by discussing Oregon Tech’s counter-proposal on the Arbitration article. The Oregon Tech team stated that they were not interested in adopting the language proposed by OT-AAUP, which would require one of the parties to specifically state they were not interested in mediation before moving forward with the selection of an Arbitrator. The Oregon Tech team felt that it would be a misuse of the Oregon Employment Relation Board’s time if the matter were submitted for mediation, only to be withdrawn several days later when one of the Parties declared they were not interested in mediation. The OT-AAUP team explained that it was not the intention to have the matter automatically submitted for mediation, rather, to encourage mediation. The OT-AAUP team stated they would attempt to clarify the language in their next counter proposal. The Oregon Tech team agreed to remove the language around limiting the list of Arbitrators to Oregon, California, or Washington. However, they did not want to adopt the OT-AAUP’s language about allowing either Party to ask for a new list of Arbitrator’s if the original choice cannot hold a hearing within 90 days. The team explained that it is very common for hearings to be scheduled more than 90 days out, and they were concerned that this provision could be used as an excuse if one of the parties did not like the selected Arbitrator. Likewise, the Oregon Tech team did not adopt OT-AAUP’s language around needing the hearing to be conducted within 45 days or a new Arbitrator would need to be chosen. They felt, specifically in the case where both Parties are pleased with the choice of Arbitrator, it would not be in either Parties’ interest to have to choose a different Arbitrator. The OT-AAUP team stated they would discuss this in caucus and counter in their next proposal. Next, the Oregon Tech team stated they were not interested in adopting OT-AAUP’s language about requiring both Parties to jointly submit a statement to the Arbitrator, within 10 days of the hearing, that stated what issues were to be addressed by the Arbitration. They were concerned that this might unfairly burden the Association, since their attorney(s) may not be ready 10 days before the hearing. Additionally, they were concerned that, in a highly contested case, it might be difficult or impossible for the parties to agree on the core issues. OT-AAUP said they would take this argument into consideration and discuss the issue in caucus. The Oregon Tech team then explained that they felt it was advantageous to move the section on Arbitrability prior to the sections on the conduct of the hearing, arguing that it would be in both Parties’ best interest to have this resolved earlier, in order to reduce costs. Although not included in their proposal, the Parties did discuss how costs should be covered if the Arbitrator were to declare that the issues presented were not open to arbitration. The Parties seemed to be in agreement that, in this case, the cost of the Arbitrator would be split by the Parties. Lastly, the Oregon Tech team stated they were not interested in adopting the language in OT-AAUP’s proposal which would require any fees charged by the Arbitrator to be split by the Parties. They argued that it was fairer to have the withdrawing Party pay the fees, as this could serve to discourage the Parties pursuing arbitration for frivolous issues. The OT-AAUP team said they would review this in caucus and address the issue in their next proposal.

Professional Development
Next, OT-AAUP presented their initial proposal on Professional Development. After going through the article, the Oregon Tech team did not have any substantive questions, but they did ask if the Association had done a costing analysis of the proposal. The Association team responded that they had not done a costing analysis, because they were waiting on data from Oregon Tech that showed the current expenditure on professional development.

Academic Freedom
Next, the OT-AAUP team presented their counter proposal on Academic Freedom. The Association team explained that they were not interested in adopting Oregon Tech’s language that stated faculty members should treat others fairly and with respect. It was explained that the Association is not opposed to this, rather, it is assumed that ALL interactions should be fair and respectful from all sides, and it seemed to be putting an undue burden on bargaining unit members to ensure fairness and respect. Additionally, it was voiced that, since fairness and respect are very vague ideas, there was concern that this language could be used to censure a bargaining unit member merely because another individual felt they had been treated unfairly or with disrespect. The Oregon Tech team did not have any questions or comments about this item. The Oregon Tech team felt that the Association’s language around requiring the Faculty Senate to approve agreements between Oregon Tech and outside entities that have a curricular impact was outside the scope of a collective bargaining agreement. OT-AAUP responded that they look forward to Oregon Tech’s counter proposal on this issue.

Association Rights
Lastly, the OT-AAUP team presented their first counter to Oregon Tech’s counter to the Association Rights article. Of major discussion was the Associations contention that, since groups internal to Oregon Tech do not, currently, pay a fee for the use of University spaces, Oregon Tech should NOT charge the Association to use those same facilities. The Oregon tech team argued that, since, legally, the Association is a third-party, separate from the University, they should be charged a fee, in accordance with the current practice of charging outside groups a fee to use Oregon Tech facilities. The Association countered that, while they may be a third-party legally, they were conducting business and dealing with issues directly related to the University and its employee’s, namely, the faculty. As such, they were much more like an internal group, than a random external group that had no affiliation with Oregon Tech. Additionally, the Association team pointed out that at several of the other state universities in Oregon, the Faculty Unions are recognized as internal faculty groups and are not charged for using the University’s facilities. There was no resolution of this matter, but the Oregon Tech team stated they would address the matter in their caucus and in their next counter proposal. The last major issue discussed was the addressing of Oregon Tech’s desire to have a list of duties for each member of OT-AAUP’s executive committee, and the estimated time necessary to accomplish said duties. The OT-AAUP team was not opposed to providing a general list of union duties, but were opposed to providing such a specific list, particularly since, as a new group, it is not entirely certain what each member’s duties would be, and how much time would be required to discharge said duties. The Oregon Tech team countered that they were requesting the information in order to be in compliance with the statute regarding public employee unions, which states that Employers must provide “reasonable time” for the officers of the Union to discharge their duties. The Association felt that would be better covered in the Release Time article, but the Oregon Tech team asserted that these were separate issues. The teams agreed to discuss the issue further in caucus. There was some minor discussion surrounding timelines for information and the parties came to agreement on said timelines. The Oregon Tech team stated they would further discuss the Association’s proposal in caucus.

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.

Donated Leave Bank
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.

Leaves
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.

Fringe Benefits
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.

Grievances
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
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.

Compensation
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.

Conclusion
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.