Press Release: Oregon Tech – AAUP Negotiates Historic First Contract; Oregon Tech Strike is Over

5-4-21

Press contact: secretary@oregontechaaup.org

For immediate release: In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the bargaining team from Oregon Tech – AAUP came to tentative agreements on a historic first contract for Oregon Tech faculty, achieving their goals of fair wages, a reasonable workload, and secure public employee benefits. The tentative agreements that were reached this week will now move to a ratification process, where union members will vote on whether to accept the final contract.

“We could not have done it without faculty, students, and community supporters far and wide showing up to the lines—both physical and digital—in solidarity with the faculty of Oregon Tech-AAUP,” said Kari Lundgren, associate professor in the communication department and OT-AAUP spokesperson. “We are immensely grateful for their generosity and spirit.”

A tenacious bargaining team and a strong strike action were an essential part of winning this contract. Faculty in Portland, Klamath Falls, and Salem all came together to take decisive collective action.

Workload for both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty had been a sticking point, and now there are protections for faculty with regard to excess workload assignments. Non-instructional workload is also better addressed, meaning faculty will receive workload units for advising students and other related activities that faculty do that make the university function and thrive. Perhaps most importantly, faculty’s right to bargain over future changes to workload is protected.

Fair compensation is now enshrined in this first contract, with guaranteed compensation increases through the life of the contract and mechanisms to address existing inequities.

Benefits are secured through the life of the contract in their current form and are tied firmly to the benefits of all other Oregon Tech employees.

All of this certainty is now formalized in the faculty’s first union contract, which, once ratified, will be in place through June 30, 2025. Faculty are thrilled to soon have the contract in place to support them in attracting and retaining excellent faculty and providing the best possible education to the students of Oregon Tech.

Negotiations lasted until the early hours of Tuesday morning when a deal was reached, ending a strike that took place at all of Oregon Tech’s teaching sites across the region. OT-AAUP’s faculty-led negotiating team worked tirelessly since bargaining began in October 2019, especially in the weeks leading up to and during the strike. While other faculty were picketing physically and digitally, bargaining team members were on call 24/7 drafting proposals, researching contracts of other unionized faculty, and meeting with senior administrators in mediation.

Faculty will return to work Wednesday, May 5, and are very eager to get back in their classrooms. “I teach proposal writing, and my students have definitely gotten a great look at how one kind of proposal works over the last 45 days,” said Matt Frye, assistant professor in the Communication Department.

Much work remains to rebuild relationships affected by senior administration’s persistent mendacity, and, while OT-AAUP’s contract should be ratified soon, the timeline for other healing processes is unknown.

Oregon Tech faculty first organized in 2018 over an ongoing struggle to secure fairer labor practices. Bargaining of their first contract began in fall 2019 and continued for over 500 grueling days in order to reach a contract. They became the first public university faculty to go on strike on April 26.

OT-AAUP is proud to have fought tirelessly for a contract that secured for fair wages, secure benefits, and reasonable, clearly defined workload for Oregon Tech faculty.


OT-AAUP Mission:

We are the united faculty of Oregon Tech. Through teaching, outreach, and scholarship, we generate and share knowledge to advance the lives of students, the well-being of communities, and the understanding of the world in which we live. We believe that an empowered and organized faculty will help build a better Oregon Tech for current and future generations, which is why we are organizing our union. https://oregontechaaup.org/

OT-AAUP principles:

Defend and implement the principles of public education so that students of diverse backgrounds are provided opportunities to excel.

Champion academic freedom, rigorous discourse, and scientific inquiry so that all members of the university community are encouraged and supported in their endeavors to contribute to the mission of Oregon Tech.

Uphold shared governance of the university characterized by open and responsible communication, fair treatment of individuals, participatory processes, and collaborative decision-making.

Secure working conditions that promote and protect excellence and innovation in all aspects of faculty life at Oregon Tech.

About AAUP: The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. https://www.aaup.org

 

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Press Release: OT-AAUP Bargaining Team Meets Late into the Night to Make Considerable Offer; Senior Admin Refuses to Budge on Equity

5-3-21

Press contact: secretary@oregontechaaup.org

For immediate release: Oregon Tech – AAUP is increasingly close to a settlement in the eighth day of their strike against the Oregon Institute of Technology, as the union continues to fight for their collective bargaining rights and salary equity. The strike persists as the bargaining team works hard to draft a third settlement package with hope that senior administration will be persuaded into deeper consideration following a week of untaught classes and frustrated students flooding the picket lines.

Some of the most pressing fights now are over union rights to bargain over the issues that impact their very livelihoods and fair and equitable compensation practices. From the beginning of this process, the senior administration has proposed language allowing the Provost to change workload guidelines every year. OT-AAUP wants to bargain over any of those changes that have a significant impact on faculty working conditions.

Senior administration assumes that faculty who want equity raises will be willing to go back on the job market, be offered a higher salary somewhere else, and individually bargain a “retention raise” to raise their own salary. They believe the best way to retain faculty is to force them to apply for other jobs all the time. Faculty argue that they need security and to trust that they can keep doing their jobs at Oregon Tech without stagnant salaries.

Seth Anthony, Associate Professor of Chemistry, said, “After 9.5 years in my career at Oregon Tech, I make less than the lowest salary offered to an assistant professor of chemistry at Southern Oregon University according to a job announcement that’s posted right now!”

OT-AAUP’s proposals cost about the same amount of money as senior administration’s proposals do, but the union wants that money to be allocated more equitably.

Meanwhile on Oregon Tech’s campuses, senior administrators have resorted to teaching classes themselves, much to the surprise and exasperation of students. Many classes, particularly the labs that are essential for Oregon Tech’s hands-on degrees, have been cancelled as there are no qualified substitutes.

Faculty have chosen this career to serve the next generation and share knowledge. They do not seek anything like the lavish salaries enjoyed by their senior administration. They simply want to be able to continue teaching—and for Oregon Tech to continue to attract and retain the quality instructors its students deserve. As resources flow away from faculty and towards administrators at universities across the nation, they fight for faculty everywhere.


OT-AAUP Mission:

We are the united faculty of Oregon Tech. Through teaching, outreach, and scholarship, we generate and share knowledge to advance the lives of students, the well-being of communities, and the understanding of the world in which we live. We believe that an empowered and organized faculty will help build a better Oregon Tech for current and future generations, which is why we are organizing our union. https://oregontechaaup.org/

OT-AAUP principles:

Defend and implement the principles of public education so that students of diverse backgrounds are provided opportunities to excel.

Champion academic freedom, rigorous discourse, and scientific inquiry so that all members of the university community are encouraged and supported in their endeavors to contribute to the mission of Oregon Tech.

Uphold shared governance of the university characterized by open and responsible communication, fair treatment of individuals, participatory processes, and collaborative decision-making.

Secure working conditions that promote and protect excellence and innovation in all aspects of faculty life at Oregon Tech.

About AAUP: The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. https://www.aaup.org

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Press Release: OIT Students Protest at Administration Building in Support of Faculty; Still No Contract

5-1-21

Press contact: unite@oregontechaaup.org

For immediate release: While a majority of Oregon Tech faculty held their own Rally for a Fair Contract on Friday, over 50 Oregon Tech students entered the OIT administrative building in Klamath Falls and held a sit-in to show their support for their faculty. Actions also took place at the Portland-Metro campus and virtually as Oregon Tech – AAUP (OT-AAUP) continues to negotiate a historic first contract with a recalcitrant senior administration.

The strike stretched into day five as classes went un-taught. Teamsters continued to withhold their deliveries and pickups from any Oregon Tech campus. Faculty, students, and other supporters bravely picketed in the snow on Monday into the scorching sun on Friday. It’s Oregon’s first faculty strike, and in every regard it is historic.

Despite creative proposals by the OT-AAUP team to accommodate the senior administration’s approach to compensation and workload, there has been little movement. Recent proposals from senior administration would eliminate some elements of compensation which have been long-standing OIT policy, including:

  • Raises for post-tenure review (if no post-tenure review raises are possible, faculty will only have two opportunities for promotion in their entire career at Oregon Tech).
  • Geographical stipends for faculty who live in the pricier Portland- Metro area.
  • Internal equity adjustments for compression and wage inversion. Their offer is limited to what is required by law for protected classes–in other words, the bare minimum.

Additionally, senior administration’s offers do not include a way to address external inequities and would also undermine workload stability, in that they continue to insist that workload can change annually at the discretion of the provost.

A university spokesperson claiming to be on the negotiation team took to an official university networking app on Friday to argue with students about the strike. Meanwhile, Nagi Naganathan, university President, turned off his voicemail and was not reachable by students or members of the public.

This is OT-AAUP’s first contract. Bargaining a first contract is a huge undertaking, and it is crucial that it be fair and equitable, because it establishes important precedents for the future of all Oregon Tech faculty.

Oregon Tech faculty first organized in 2018 over an ongoing struggle to secure fairer labor practices. Bargaining began in fall 2019 and continued for over 550 grueling days without reaching a contract.

Oregon Tech’s senior administration declared impasse on March 10, 2021, which began a timeline that put the strike on a collision course with this year’s graduation and many accreditation deadlines. Senior administrators have still not been able to agree to a fair deal for the teachers who make their university run.

Negotiations will continue during the strike until an agreement is reached. If no agreement is reached, faculty will hit the picket lines again Monday morning. OT-AAUP faculty are demanding a contract that provides fair wages, secure benefits, and reasonable, clearly defined workload for Oregon Tech faculty.


OT-AAUP Mission:

We are the united faculty of Oregon Tech. Through teaching, outreach, and scholarship, we generate and share knowledge to advance the lives of students, the well-being of communities, and the understanding of the world in which we live. We believe that an empowered and organized faculty will help build a better Oregon Tech for current and future generations, which is why we are organizing our union. https://oregontechaaup.org/

OT-AAUP principles:

Defend and implement the principles of public education so that students of diverse backgrounds are provided opportunities to excel.

Champion academic freedom, rigorous discourse, and scientific inquiry so that all members of the university community are encouraged and supported in their endeavors to contribute to the mission of Oregon Tech.

Uphold shared governance of the university characterized by open and responsible communication, fair treatment of individuals, participatory processes, and collaborative decision-making.

Secure working conditions that promote and protect excellence and innovation in all aspects of faculty life at Oregon Tech.

About AAUP: The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. https://www.aaup.org

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