OT-AAUP Frequently Asked Questions, for Students

Note: this document is informed by questions asked during OT-AAUP’s student forum on 4-13-21. Any further questions for OT-AAUP can be directed to unite@oregontechaaup.org.

A second open forum for students will be held on Friday, April 23, at 6:00 PM. If an agreement is reached before then, we will still hold the forum to discuss what comes next! Register here: https://pdx.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwvc-6qrTguGNLgN9tEr7h5gGiEsZbMq3CW 

Students and all other supporters can also stay informed via our website, https://oregontechaaup.org/, as well as our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Students can get in touch with other students who are organizing to support faculty via:

Technical Questions about a Strike:

    1. What should students expect if the faculty choose to strike? 
      1. If an agreement is not reached by Monday, April 26, at 6:00 AM, OT-AAUP will strike. A strike is a last resort. 
      2. The faculty who choose to strike will withhold their labor until their demands are met. That means striking professors can’t do any academic labor (teaching, committee work, advising students, checking OIT email, using OIT computers, going on the OIT campus). Striking faculty can communicate with students via non-OIT channels (personal email, phone, discord, etc) about the strike.

Faculty who choose to strike will be doing so because they believe a fair contract will benefit students more in the long term than the status quo, which is unsustainable. 

      1. Senior administration has stated they will replace us by asking deans, department chairs, and adjuncts (scabs) to teach our classes.
      2. Picket lines would be on public right of way outside the entrances to campus. Strikers won’t be able to actually go on campus.
      3. Senior administration has stated classes won’t be cancelled.
      4. A faculty member can’t be fired or retaliated against for participating in a legal strike.
  1. How can students support striking faculty?
    1. Verbal support. We like to know that students are with us!
    2. Letters to the editor: Herald and News, the Oregonian, or any other relevant regional or national media outlet.
    3. Social Media support. Like/share/follow on Facebook or Twitter.
    4. Letters to the Board of Trustees. https://www.oit.edu/trustees 
    5. Speak at Board of Trustees meetings. https://www.oit.edu/trustees/meetings-events
      1. To speak, fill out the public comment sign in sheet (https://www.oit.edu/sites/default/files/2020/documents/form-2020-public-comment-sign-in.pdf) and submit it to OregonTechBoard@oit.edu 24 hours in advance of the meeting, or bring it if you attend in person.
    6. Sign our petitions that are floating around Social Media.
      1. https://actionnetwork.org/letters/fair-contract-now-for-otaaup
    7. Students are keeping track of active ways to be supportive here: www.tinyurl.com/InfoForStudents
  2. Labor strike vs. student walkout
    1. Not the same thing. A strike, legally, is all or nothing. A student walkout in support of a strike is not governed by those same rules. The risk of students walking out of class is comparable to missing class for any other reason (illness, first day of hunting season, etc.).
    2. A walkout is lower risk for students than a strike is for faculty, but it shows support for a strike in a meaningful way.
  3. What rights do students have to protest?
    1. Students’ rights to protest on campus are governed by, of course, their First Amendment rights and informed by the Campus Speech Policy. https://www.oit.edu/sites/default/files/document/campus-speech-activities-policy—oit-30-002.pdf
    2. A “campus speech map” was distributed to faculty by the Provost on 4-13. It’s not on the OIT website, but it can be viewed here. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VWmBtOl_wrFD8qa4GKOIQnu4wXl_skcd/view?usp=sharing
    3. Students can protest outside of academic buildings, but they cannot disrupt classes (as with any other campus activity). 
  4. Where can students get in touch with other students who are organizing in support of a fair contract for faculty?
    1. oitstudents4faculty@gmail.com
    2. www.tinyurl.com/InfoForStudents
  5. How long would a strike last? What can students do during that time?
    1. We can’t comment on the length of a strike. We want it to be as close to zero days as possible.
    2. Students can walk out or choose not to attend classes (though there may be repercussions for those actions). Students can also attend classes and join picket lines outside of their normal class hours.
    3. Students can protest when/how they see fit. If they protest as part of an organization or event, they will need to follow existing university guidelines (similar to reserving a table or other space on campus). Otherwise they are governed by the Campus Speech policy.
  6. How many faculty will strike?
    1. We can’t say. It’s up to individual faculty members to make this decision when the time comes.
    2. Faculty make this decision based on a lot of factors — anyone striking risks their pay, healthcare and other benefits if a strike lasts long enough. 
  7. During a strike, how will the administration set students up for success?
    1. We have no answer. When we strike, we are not able to coordinate with students as teachers, nor can we perform any of our work duties (like advising).
    2. When we withhold our labor, we withhold all of it. Continuing to check in and make sure the house isn’t burning down reduces our ability to use the strike to keep negotiations moving.
  8. Scabs: what can they do?
    1. They would most likely get access to Canvas shells, but that’s it.
    2. Can the university guarantee that scabs have the right credentials to take on these positions?
      1. We sincerely hope so. But faculty are not involved in the appointing of substitutes.
  9. Will this affect graduation?
    1. We hope not. Senior administration has promised that it won’t.
    2. Senior administration declared impasse in March, which means they made the move that determined the timeline for a potential strike. If they hadn’t done that, we could have kept negotiating straight through into fall. If the strike affects graduation, it is because of their decision to declare impasse.
  10. What will TAs do during this time? What about students who are also university employees?
    1. They have their normal contract limitations. They can act in their capacity as students when they aren’t on the clock.

Questions about the Campaign for a Fair Contract:

  1. How did the University get to this point?
    1. OT-AAUP president Sean St.Clair wrote a great guest editorial for the Herald and News explaining just that. https://www.heraldandnews.com/members/forum/guest_commentary/st-clair-faculty-asking-for-stability-so-they-can-serve-students/article_f5a81a3b-4118-5758-80f2-e3812e57fab9.html
    2. Faculty unionized in 2018 with a strong majority vote.
    3. Negotiating started in October of 2019, well before COVID.
    4. The university’s priorities speak for themselves.
  2. What would a better list of comparator schools be for determining faculty salaries, instead of the list that senior administration released? 
    1. (Their list was made available April 6th in this PowerPoint from the OIT website: https://webadmin.oit.edu/sites/default/files/2021/documents/%282021-4-5%29%20Comparator%20Universities%20Z-Score%20Analysis%20Presentation%20University%20Mediation.pdf)
    2. This better list of comparators is from the MGT study done by consultants for OIT in 2016-2017. We paid a lot to get this information, and it was compiled by experts.
    3. Other schools in Oregon would also be logical comparators.
  3. Can students see the MGT study?
    1. Yes! It is posted publicly on the OIT website at  https://www.oit.edu/sites/default/files/document/mgt-faculty-study—final-report-may-2017.pdf
  4. Would OT-AAUP’s proposal affect tuition or specific programs?
    1. These are unrelated. Tuition has increased every year for several years without faculty raises (aside from one COLA, which is a 2% raise to offset cost of living increases), without significant changes to capital spending (except through state allocations and donor funding) and without increased course offerings.
    2. OIT revenue is up $3.55m, plus $1.6m saved through staff furloughs and $9m in CARES funding
      1. Administration costs have increased as a percentage of the total budget
      2. Faculty/instruction costs have decreased as a percentage of the total budget
  5. Where is the tuition increase going, if not to faculty or facilities?
    1. We don’t know. Enough public information on the budget has not been released for us to be able to answer this definitively.
    2. We do not get to see the full university budget, just individual budgets for programs and committees we might be a part of. 
  6. Is the mediator working with the bargaining teams changing due to the authorization of a strike?
    1. We will have the same mediator for our sessions and then a second mediator to help move the process forward; however, the second mediator may change from session to session. (We were incorrect previously about actually having the state conciliator be the mediator. But it is correct that an additional mediator is now involved.)

Questions about Other Faculty Issues

  1. Can we explain the issue with Nagi’s new office?
    1. That is a Faculty Senate issue. OT-AAUP advocates for working conditions and labor rights.
  2. Can we explain the issue with the non tenure track faculty policy? AND
  3. What is OT-AAUP’s opinion on losing faculty who do not get tenure?
    1. To speak to both issues 2 and 3 above, OT-AAUP believes clear paths for promotion and tenure are important to help retain good faculty. For more institutional history about the non tenure track faculty policy, contact Faculty Senate.
  4. Who is “administration”?
    1. The “senior administration” can be thought of as the executive branch of the university. The President, the Provost, all positions with those words plus “Vice” or “Associate,” and Deans. This also includes their bargaining team. 
    2. Most students very rarely interact with senior administration (the highest ranking members of administration) except for at graduation, aside from Dr. Foley.
    3. The organizational chart for the President’s Office is here: https://www.oit.edu/sites/default/files/2021/documents/Oregon%20Tech%20Presidential%20Org%202.3.21%20Chart%202020-21.pdf (but note, some recently hired administrators are not included).
  5. Has there been any public justification of administrative raises?
    1. No.
    2. There might be something in Board of Trustees meeting notes, but nothing has been found or publicized yet.

Other OT-AAUP Questions

  1. How does the union keep track of revisions or updates to its website material?
    1. [Note: The university posted a statement on March 24, which was then scrubbed and replaced by a completely different statement.]
    2. When we make mistakes or update information (beyond spelling errors), we make a note that we’re updating old posts or old information, post what we need to, then move on. We believe that transparency in our dealings is important.

One thought on “OT-AAUP Frequently Asked Questions, for Students

  1. Wish you the best of luck.

    Our daughter is a student taking senior level math classes remotely as she also works full time. She is very concerned how it will affect remote students. But she is supportive of the Faculty.
    We have been watching this closely.

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