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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