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.

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.

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.