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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