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.

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