PRESS RELEASE: Oregon Tech Faculty Respond to Irresponsible Public Communication from Oregon Tech Administration

April 13, 2021

Press contact: unite@oregontechaaup.org

Klamath Falls, Oregon: Oregon Tech – American Association of University Professors (OT-AAUP) is issuing the following response to a misleading press release issued by Oregon Tech Administration on April 9, 2021.

OIT administration released a troubling public communication following the union’s notice of their intent to strike. Faculty will walk out if an agreement is not reached before 6:00 AM on April 26. If OT-AAUP is forced to strike, it will be the first time any public university faculty has gone on strike in Oregon history.

“Most press releases don’t require a direct response, but this particular one does because literally every single sentence in it is either lacking context, misrepresenting data, misrepresenting faculty intentions, or shaming faculty,” said C.J. Riley, Professor of Civil Engineering. “We will not stand for this.”

Faculty feel that Oregon Tech administration should be held to the same standards of integrity and quantitative literacy as faculty and students, and they feel that the administration’s recent public communications come up short.

OIT administration declared impasse on March 10, triggering a state statutory timeline for exchanges of final offers, continuation of mediated negotiations, and process for calling a potential strike. This process was not initiated by OT-AAUP; OIT administration cancelled bargaining the day following their declaration, though they have offered to meet additionally since that time. The parties have met thrice since, have an additional session scheduled this week on 4/15, and have proposed several dates leading up to April 26.

The parties have even reached four tentative agreements since OT-AAUP announced their strike authorization vote results on 4/2.

What Faculty are Actually Demanding

Faculty are asking for fair pay compared to faculty at other universities nationally, not a blanket 20% salary increase. In contrast to recent public communications from OIT administration, the average faculty salary across all ranks and disciplines at Oregon Tech in 2020 was just short of $70k, according to both public data and the data presented by OIT administration at our last bargaining session — a radically different number than they’ve provided in their public communications.

Faculty are also asking for secure benefits, not an increase in coverage. It’s misleading to represent pay and cost of benefits in one lump sum, as the OIT administration has done. “You can’t buy a house with your health insurance,” said Franny Howes, an associate professor in the Communication Department. “And faculty should not have to be afraid that their health insurance premiums might be altered at any time by their employer.”

Faculty are asking for reasonable and clearly defined workloads, not a 20% reduction in work. At the moment, only classroom hours are defined as workload, despite the fact that faculty are required to perform other services for the university, including student advising; curriculum development; committee work at the departmental, institutional, state, and national level; research; other professional development; and so on. Faculty are simply asking to include those important work tasks in their defined workloads.

OT-AAUP will continue to bargain in good faith until an agreement is reached that provides fair compensation, secure benefits, and a reasonable and clearly defined workload for the outstanding faculty at Oregon Tech.


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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Note: The original post had a slight typo claiming that we had reached “four three tentative agreements.” The actual number is four.

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