August 11, 2020 Negotiation Session

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, August 11, the OT-AAUP and Oregon Tech negotiating teams met for their fourth bargaining session of the Summer. The OT-AAUP team presented a counter proposal on Working Conditions. The Oregon Tech team presented a counter proposal on Sabbaticals and a new proposal on Force Majeure.

Working Conditions
After some discussion on scheduling future meeting dates and the Associations Unfair Labor Practice complaint, the Association presented their article on Working Conditions. The Association explained that one of the changes they made was to include the Administration’s language around performing tasks that are “imminently hazardous,” but explained that the Association sought to clarify the language. The Administration responded that they felt the Association’s language was actually more confusing, but after discussion, understood the Associations intent and stated that they would discuss the issue further in caucus. The OT-AAUP team also pointed out that they had adopted the Administration’s language around the right of the University to reassign a faculty member to a different office or even to a different campus, but still wanted to include language that would give the faculty member sufficient notice. Lastly, the parties discussed some wording over training, where the Association clarified that it was not their intent to allow a bargaining unit member to choose whether or not to attend training, rather, it was the Association’s position that the University should provide safety training and the faculty member must attend said training.

Following a brief caucus, the Oregon Tech team presented their counter proposal on Sabbaticals. The Administration team explained that they added language to allow for consultations between the Provost’s office and a committee that could make recommendations to the Provost regarding sabbaticals, but that the ultimate decision would be up to the Provost. After the Association Teams asked about the possibility of a faculty member using a sabbatical to pursue a doctoral or terminal degree, the Oregon Tech team explained that, in general, that was not the purpose of sabbaticals, but that the language in their proposal allowed for the Provost to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Force Majeure
Next, the Oregon Tech team presented their Force Majeure proposal. The Administration Team explained that, while this proposal was uncommon in CBAs in higher education, it was fairly standard in private and public labor contracts. Essentially, a Force Majeure article would give Oregon Tech the right to suspend either the entire CBA or certain provisions of the CBA in certain qualified circumstances, as outlined in the Force Majeure article. The Association team felt that current statutes, as well as other articles within the CBA, already address the concerns raised by the Administration, as such, the Associations team was not interested in pursuing discussions of this article.

Response To July 28 Session Proposals
Lastly, the Administration’s team responded to the Association’s proposals on Shared Governance, Appeals, and Annual Evaluations of Faculty, from the July 28 session. The Oregon Tech team explained that it was their position that these articles, specifically Appeals and Shared Governance, were permissive, and that the Administration had no interest in discussing these issues at the bargaining table. The Oregon Tech team did concede that there were some aspects of the Association’s Annual Evaluations of Faculty proposal that were mandatory, and that they would entertain an article that contained just those components. When the OT-AAUP team explained that they understood these articles were permissive, but that they were issues important to their members, and that they were articles that have appeared in other higher education CBAs, the Oregon Tech team explained that they Association would need to explain to their members that the Administration was not going to engage the faculty, through OT-AAUP, at the bargaining table over these issues. The OT-AAUP team responded by, once more, asking for the report on Shared Governance at OIT, which the administration has refused to release in full, and explaining that shared governance has not been an effective venue for resolving said issues, which is my the Association is bringing these issues to the Administration’s attention at the negotiating table.

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