Bargaining Update: Oregon Tech works because faculty do!

Hi, colleagues,

I’m writing today to share some key information about recent bargaining proposals—namely, what our compensation proposal costs and why, as well as why we rejected senior administration’s workload and benefits package. (As you may recall, senior administration presented their workload and benefits proposals in a linked package, which means that we would have had to accept both proposals unchanged.)

Also, please note that we will have an informal drop-in session for you to ask more questions about our current progress on Tuesday, 3/9/2021 at 2 pm; stay tuned for a Zoom link.

How much does our compensation proposal cost and why?
Our compensation proposal will cost approximately $2.5 million for initial implementation and is based on a formula to get our faculty salaries closer to market and make adjustments to address internal salaries inequities.. To put that in perspective, since 2018, faculty have received no COLAs or market-driven salary increases; in contrast, since 2018, senior administration have received an additional $2.2 million, as evidenced by the Oregon Tech annual financial reports.

Oregon Tech faculty have been severely underpaid for years, and this proposal aims to close the gap between what our faculty earn and what our faculty peers at other institutions earn. Our proposal is, in effect, COLA and back pay for approximately 158 faculty.

To keep this compensation plan relevant after the initial implementation, we are also asking that our faculty compensation be compared annually to national data and updated accordingly, ensuring that we remain at—or, at least, near—market rates. Our plan would also help ensure that base salaries are fair, thereby increasing faculty recruitment and retention rates. We anticipate the adjustments for the second and third year of our contract to be closer to $500k.

Why did we reject senior administration’s workload proposal?
The primary reason we rejected senior administration’s workload proposal is that it gave the provost unilateral authority to change workload in the future without bargaining. In other words, the provost would be empowered to do exactly what happened last summer: The provost could change faculty workload in ways that deeply affect faculty lives without meaningful faculty participation in the process. (Their proposal would allow OT-AAUP to give input but not to shape or bargain over changes.) This is a huge problem for faculty and shared governance.

Another reason we rejected senior’s administration’s workload proposal is that it did not take into account the non-instructional work faculty do, including advising, that is critical to student retention and success. Faculty take this work very seriously, yet this is not reflected in senior administration’s proposal.

Why did we reject senior administration’s health benefits proposal?
The primary reason we rejected senior administration’s benefit proposal—on top of the fact that they made it contingent on us accepting their problematic workload proposal—was that, while their proposal seemingly promised continuation of the 95/5 split on employer/employee premium contributions for one year, it would require faculty to absorb any cost increases of over 2% to premiums.

In other words, since health-care premiums almost always increase more than 2% each year, we as faculty could expect to be paying extra for health care every year under senior admin’s proposal.

Additionally, as we’ve mentioned before, senior administration’s proposal allowed them to change our health coverage every year, potentially for cheaper, inferior coverage, again without meaningful faculty participation in those decisions.

Closing
I hope this run-down of recent proposals on compensation, workload, and benefits helps you understand where things stand with bargaining. We anticipate that senior administration may send out misleading messaging around these proposals; in the face of that, please remember that, as ever, our faculty team is continuing to work hard to achieve a fair contract on your behalf. We will have an informal drop-in session for you to ask more questions about our current progress on Tuesday, 3/9/2021 at 2 pm; stay tuned for a Zoom link.

In solidarity,

Kari Lundgren, OT-AAUP Secretary
On behalf of the OT-AAUP Executive Committee

Re: Our Latest Compensation Proposal

Colleagues,

I’m writing to share OTAAUP’s compensation counterproposal as presented by math faculty member Joe Reid at bargaining yesterday. Here is our compensation proposal and here is the slideshow overviewing the framework for the proposal.

Our compensation proposal is based off of nationally accepted metrics and addresses salary compression, discipline differentials, terminal degrees adjustments, housing stipends (i.e., geographic stipends as we had them previously) and yearly updates in line with national averages at four-year baccalaureate institutions. (We used national averages because that is the only data senior administration would provide us.)

In this counterproposal, we conceded COLAs for 2020-2021 to share in the sacrifice due to the pandemic this last year, and we are asking for 3.00 % COLA for the 2019-20 (retroactive) given that we did not have any COLAs in 2018 or 2019 (which should have been at least 2% each year).

Thanks, as ever, for your support!

In solidarity,

Kari Lundgren, OTAAUP Secretary

On behalf of the OTAAUP Executive Committee

February 25th, 2021 Package Proposal From OT-AAUP

Though generally, proposals shared during mediation are not made public, OT-AAUP publicly proposed a package of five articles on 2/25. We have made this package available for your viewing on our proposal table, as well as at the links below:

Article: Faculty strike possible at OIT as negotiations enter final day

This morning’s Herald & News included coverage of our negotiations prepared by our own student journalist, Sarah Handyside. Here is the article.

OIT’s senior administration tried to block (or, at least, delay) The Edge from publishing this story. Please take a look to see what it is that they didn’t want our campus community to see.

If any of you feel moved to make comments or write letters to the editor, this may be a great chance to share our plight with the community.

Welcome back! Updates and general meeting (1/12/2021 at 2 pm) (Originally emailed to faculty on 1/6/21)

Welcome back, colleagues! I’m writing today with some quick updates from your faculty union as we start winter term.

First, we are having another general meeting on Tuesday, 1/12/2021, from 2 – 3 pm, over Zoom. Please come for updates and action items. The meeting link will be forthcoming.

Second, over the break, the negotiating teams continued to exchange proposals and communication; our team has tried to find common ground with the administration, but we are still far apart on major issues, particularly with respect to compensation and benefits. The teams are meeting this Thursday, 1/7/2021, for the first time since the end of fall term. At next week’s general meeting, we hope to have additional bargaining updates.

Lastly, we recently learned that, on Christmas Eve, Oregon Tech’s administration filed a request for judicial review (effectively, an appeal) of last term’s unanimous decision from the Oregon Employment Relations Board that Oregon Tech committed unfair labor practices against us. We find this appeal to be an egregious waste of time and money, especially at a time when the university has furloughed staff and frozen faculty hiring.

Despite whatever challenges we face as a faculty this term, please know that your faculty union is working on your behalf and welcomes your input, support, and involvement. Again, please plan to attend our general meeting next Tuesday, 1/12/2021, at 2 pm. In the meantime, have a great first week of classes!

In solidarity,

Dr. Kari Lundgren, OT-AAUP Secretary
On behalf of the OT-AAUP Executive Committee

Dr. Sean St. Clair, President
Dr. Cristina Negoita, Vice President
Dr. Kari Lundgren, Secretary
Prof. Terri Torres, Treasurer
Prof. Andria Fultz, Portland-Metro At-Large Representative
Dr. Kyle Chapman, Klamath Falls At-Large Representative
Dr. Mark Clark, Immediate Past President

Bargaining update; General meeting 1/12/2021 (Originally emailed to faculty on 12/14/20)

Dear colleagues,

As an unforgettable fall term wraps up, we’re writing with a few key union updates for you.

First, our next general meeting will be 1/12/2021 at 2 pm (Tuesday of Week 2). This meeting will serve as a follow-up to our meeting of 12/4/2020 and will cover updates to bargaining and what next steps will be necessary to win a strong contract. Please plan to attend this meeting if you can. Zoom information will be forthcoming in the new year.

Second, the negotiating teams met on 12/10/2020 and came to Tentative Agreement (TA) on Leaves, which is heartening. Less heartening was the fact that Oregon Tech Admin rejected our Benefits proposal, wherein we propose maintaining the status quo (95/5 split for PEBB contributions), as well as our Donated Leave proposal, as both of these proposals address issues related to health insurance and sick leaves, issues especially relevant during a pandemic.

Oregon Tech Admin did finally counter on Compensation and Workload (linked here), as well as on Outside Activities and Professional Development. Their proposals continue to ignore key issues to our members –e.g., no COLA, no definition of workload units, no post-tenure review raises, no geographic stipends–but do show a small amount of engagement in the process. Our team will, naturally, respond to these articles. We encourage you to read carefully through their proposals on Compensation and Workload.

As of now, the teams are scheduled to meet weekly throughout January.

Your bargaining team has now been in negotiations for over a year, and, while we have reached a few tentative agreements (Leaves, Grievances, Arbitration,etc), we remain far apart on the issues that are top priorities for faculty (Workload, Compensation, etc.). We hope to reach an agreement on our contract in the winter term, but winning a contract that ensures our contributions to the university are recognized will take all of us engaging in the process and supporting our bargaining team.

We wish you peace, joy, and solidarity throughout the holiday season and the new year!

Kari Lundgren, OTAAUP Secretary
On behalf of the OTAAUP Executive Committee

Dr. Sean St. Clair, President
Dr. Cristina Negoita, Vice President
Dr. Kari Lundgren, Secretary
Prof. Terri Torres, Treasurer
Prof. Andria Fultz, Portland-Metro At-Large Representative
Dr. Kyle Chapman, Klamath Falls At-Large Representative
Dr. Mark Clark, Immediate Past President

Day 3 of Mediation: Bargaining Update (Originally emailed to faculty on 11/13/20)

Colleagues,

Yesterday was the third day of mediation for our collective bargaining process, so we’re writing with a quick update. (Reminder: Bargaining updates from OTAAUP will always come from unite@oregontechaaup.org; emails from negoitiations@oit.edu are from the administration’s bargaining team.)

Unlike in past bargaining sessions, proposals are considered confidential during the mediation process, but we can share with you the following basic information about the day’s progress.

Parties exchanged the following articles:

  • Leaves
  • Discipline
  • Arbitration (ready to TA)
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Donations for Hardship Leave

We will continue the mediation process again next Thursday. Thank you for your continued support.

In solidarity,
Your OTAAUP Bargaining Team

Dr. Cristina Negoita, Chief Negotiator
Dr. David Johnston
Prof. Karen Kunz
Prof. Joseph Reid
Dr. Matthew Search
Prof. Stephen Schulz
Prof. Terri Torres

A win for faculty! ULP decision unanimously in our favor (Originally emailed to faculty on 10/29/20)

Colleagues,

We’re writing today to share with you good news: This morning, we received notice that the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB) ruled unanimously in our favor regarding the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint we made this summer.

Per the official ERB order, “The Board found that Oregon Institute of Technology committed unfair labor practices in violation of ORS 243.672(1)(e) . . . . The Board also concluded that Oregon Tech violated the duty to bargain when it unilaterally eliminated stipends and release time.”

Here is the ERB’s full ruling.

In other words, we won!

Despite the administration’s use of thousands of dollars in an attempt to defend their actions, we have been vindicated.

As part of this decision, everyone who was impacted by the illegal change to the Stipend/Release model will be made “whole” by the university, with interest. Please let us know at unite@oregontechaaup.org if you were adversely affected by the university’s actions so that we can keep track of whether the university is fulfilling their legal obligation.

Additionally, as a result of this decision, these issues will return to their rightful place at the bargaining table, where faculty will continue to have a strong voice.

Thanks to our faculty’s efforts through the union, we were able to achieve this victory. Thanks for your continued support!

In solidarity,

Your OTAAUP Executive Committee
Dr. Sean St. Clair, President
Dr. Cristina Negoita, Vice President
Dr. Kari Lundgren, Secretary
Prof. Terri Torres, Treasurer
Prof. Andria Fultz, Portland-Metro At-Large Representative
Dr. Kyle Chapman, Klamath Falls At-Large Representative
Dr. Mark Clark, Immediate Past President