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would be a misuse of the Oregon Employment Relation Board’s time if the matter were submitted for mediation, only to be withdrawn several days later when one of the Parties declared they were not interested in mediation.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.
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.
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.
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.