When we began bargaining with the administration team in November, both sides expressed a desire to work together to build a healthy relationship between the union and the university administration. Both sides also agreed that a good collective bargaining agreement was the foundation of a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, the administration bargaining team is not living up to their words.
Over the past month, the administration team has informed us that they have no intention of agreeing to some of the most basic provisions of a collective bargaining agreement. They have told us that they do not want to have binding arbitration; without this standard feature of a collective bargaining agreement all grievances would be decided by the university administration or by an expensive and burdensome process through the Employment Relations Board. They rejected our proposal on family and medical leave, explaining they believe anything that goes beyond current law is a conflict with the law and “prohibited” to bargain over, which is simply untrue. They rejected our sexual harassment, bullying, and discrimination proposal because they plan to “improve” current processes, but do not want faculty input. They have refused to bargain over office spaces, classroom equipment, or any provision related to improving facilities in any way.
It has become obvious to us that the administration bargaining team is not interested in engaging in respectful dialogue, nor do they share our goal of crafting a solid foundation for a healthy relationship. Indeed, in our last few sessions in particular, the administration team has offered up the barest of rationales for their obstinacy. For instance, they have refused to bargain about adequate research and teaching facilities, but the only reason they offer is that doing so would limit their “flexibility.” Similarly, they refuse to engage with our proposals on Family & Medical Leave and Sexual Harassment & Bullying under the pretense of legal issues, but will not identify the sections of our proposals that are problematic, will not point to the laws with which our proposals are in conflict, and refuse to provide counter proposals that in their view would comply with the law.
There are many paths to achieving a collective bargaining agreement. When our colleagues at the University of Oregon bargained their first contract, it took nine months of both sides working to achieve a solid agreement. At the same time, our colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago were also bargaining their first contract, but their administration forced the faculty to go out on strike before they would come to an agreement. We very much fear that the OSU administration is taking a page out of the UIC book and is trying to force conflict with our faculty. Rather than reason with us, they want to make bargaining about forcing one side or the other to give in.
The administration team knows that we cannot accept a collective bargaining agreement that does not contain provisions for binding arbitration without a fight. They know we cannot allow unlimited “flexibility” that denies faculty the basic tools they need to do their jobs. They know our faculty need a decent family and medical leave policy. Rather than work with us to find common ground that works for both faculty and administration, they have chosen conflict.
We believe the administration team has chosen conflict because they think faculty don’t really care. They have repeatedly dismissed the very real problems faculty at OSU face, and that no contract language is needed to solve problems that don’t exist at OSU. They believe there to be no reason to have a basic grievance procedure because our faculty have no reason or need to file grievances or have oversight mechanisms in place. They profess to be working on a system for reporting bullying and harassment without faculty input because they know best.
We need all faculty who want a decent collective bargaining agreement to become active and involved.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Come to a bargaining session. Over the next three months, there will be at least nine more bargaining sessions. We implore you to come out to a session or two. Your very presence, even for 30 minutes, makes a difference by showing that faculty are committed to this process and to seeing the administration engage productively with faculty’s real concerns We strongly believe that the administration must be made to understand that the faculty want a solid collective bargaining agreement.You can find a full calendar of Summer Term bargaining sessions on our website.
- Keep talking to your colleagues. We wouldn’t be at the bargaining table at all if a majority of faculty hadn’t wanted to engage in collective bargaining!
- Be visible! Hanging a door sign or wearing a button is a simple act that shows that our union is strong and we want a fair contract.
Bargaining sessions are scheduled on the following dates:
July 10, Noon to 4 pm, LaSells Center Ag Science Room
July 15, 11 am to 3 pm, location TBD
July 27, 9 am to 5 pm, location TBD
August 21, Noon to 4 pm, location TBD
If you’d like to do more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or simply reply to this message. Our organizers and activists will be reaching out to all faculty about how you can help show the administration that the path of conflict will not be successful for them. Please help us send them this message.
Proposals Exchanged on 28 June