Your bargaining team met with the administration team for the third time this past Wednesday. The parties have been trying to come to agreement on ground rules for our negotiations. We have reached agreement on several minor issues, such as who will schedule the bargaining rooms and the order in which proposals will be presented. However, one major issue that has prevented us from completing ground rules negotiations is the issue of transparency.
After three half-day sessions and five exchanges of written proposals, we remain deadlocked on this issue. We have consistently proposed and maintained that negotiation sessions be open to all faculty, students, staff, and community members who want to observe the discussions. We have insisted on the right to communicate with you, the bargaining-unit members we represent, and the larger campus community about the proposals, conversations, and ideas that are being exchanged. We cannot imagine limiting our ability to inform you about what is being said on your behalf and get your feedback about our efforts. Our union represents the collective voice of the faculty, and we refuse to muffle that voice.
Unfortunately, the administration team has not embraced our request for transparency. They have proposed that the sessions be closed to all but the bargaining teams and special guests, or, at most, bargaining-unit faculty could watch “executive sessions” where the observers would have to agree to not share what they heard in bargaining with their colleagues or the general public. They have sought to constrain our ability to share the ideas and proposals that are exchanged at the table with you. Most troubling, the administration team has seemingly advanced the idea that we will only be able to speak honestly with each other if we speak behind closed doors.
Transparency, freedom of thought and expression, and the courage to speak openly and publicly are the hallmarks of the academy and of our union. While we fully recognize that there are times when a full-throated airing of viewpoints can do more damage than good, we believe that knowing our conversations will be public challenges us to be accountable for what we say and propose. The principles of transparency are embedded in the United Academics mission statement and our bargaining platform. We will continue to fight for them at the bargaining table.
The administration team abruptly left our last session early and indicated that they were not sure how we move forward. We have proposed several dates and times that we are prepared to meet with the administration team to begin giving them proposals to improve the working conditions for faculty at OSU. We hope to begin this work soon. When our first real bargaining dates are set, we will let you know, and we invite all faculty and members of the campus community to come and watch this work. We value your interest, your support, and your feedback.