Bargaining Session 18 Update (09.10.19)

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met 1–5 on Tuesday, September 10 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Ten faculty members observed the session.

The Administration team brought counterproposals on Recognition, Academic Classification, Grievance Process, and Non-Discrimination. The teams are moving closer together on a number of issues, but crucial differences remain to be worked out. 

In a Recognition counterproposal, the Administration team struck our language prohibiting the institution from assigning bargaining unit work to non-bargaining unit employees. This is crucial for preventing erosion of the bargaining unit, which administrators could do by reclassifying positions or reassigning research and teaching duties currently performed by bargaining unit members to other employees (e.g., replacing Instructors with Graduate Employees or replacing a Faculty Research Assistant with an employee classified as Professional Faculty). The Administration team offered examples of when such a change might be necessary and beneficial, while we raised concerns about the potential for abuse. We will continue to discuss ways to ensure that units have enough flexibility to serve program needs while protecting bargaining unit positions.

In an Academic Classification counterproposal, the Administration team eliminated the promotion pathways we had included for the categories of Instructor (ESL), Instructor (ASL), Instructor (PAC), and Research Associate, which currently lack any mechanism for promotion. They also eliminated timelines for Research Associate (Postdoctoral)  positions, which we included to ensure that faculty in this category who are performing well and whose work is still funded have an opportunity to move into more stable and advanced positions. The Administration team also eliminated a number of specifics in the definitions of job categories, despite the fact that those specifics are taken directly from Human Resources guidelines. Again, the Administration team insisted that administrators follow the rules but that they do not want to have them included in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) because this level of accountability would limit administration’s flexibility.

We made some progress on the Grievance article, with the Administration team agreeing to our proposed extended 180-day timeline for filing grievances in cases of discrimination. But the Administration team continues to insist that discrimination grievances should not be subject to arbitration, meaning that OSU’s administators would make the ultimate decision about whether OSU unfairly discriminated against an employee. We continue to insist that these cases, if they cannot be resolved, should go to a neutral third party via arbitration. Similarly, the Administration continues to insist that grievances should be limited to violations of the CBA, while we want faculty to be able to grieve any violation of OSU policy.

In a Non-Discrimination counterproposal, the Administration team accepted much of our language. Our proposal included the creation of a Labor Management Committee on Respectful Workplaces, an effort to ensure that faculty had a key role in identifying problems and solutions, like many that we have heard from faculty across campus, in current processes and practices. In their last counterproposal the Administration team eliminated this, but on Tuesday they included it in a separate Letter of Agreement. We continue to move closer together on this article.

We offered counterproposals on Health and Safety, Facilities, and Workspaces; Academic Freedom; Discipline and Termination; and Arbitration. We are getting much closer on Academic Freedom, Discipline and Termination, and Arbitration. On health and safety, we continue to push back at the Administration team’s effort to emphasize faculty responsibility without a concomitant institutional responsibility. Our counterproposal clarified the wording of several items in order to address concerns expressed by the Administration team while reinserting our original list of basic provisions to which faculty have a right, such safe work spaces and basic equipment necessary to complete their job duties. 

During discussion, the Administration team expressed concerns that hundreds of faculty may file grievances claiming a right to a “wish list” of items; they also asserted that the grievance process creates “ill will.” We explained that a very similar provision in the CGE contract has not produced a flurry of frivolous grievances and has in fact benefited OSU (for example, by ensuring that units provided a private space for GTAs to meet with students while fulfilling FERPA obligations). We also rejected the notion that the grievance process creates ill will and insisted that ill will is instead a result of faculty feeling powerless to access the things they need to do their jobs. A strong CBA and a robust grievance process is the solution.

Our website provides a table with links to the 48 articles for which we have presented proposals, along with the administration’s proposals on 19 articles.

The next bargaining session is 12–4 on Wednesday, September 18 in the LaSells Stewart Center. We plan to present counterproposals on grievance, academic classification, non-discrimination, and more. Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters: show the administration that faculty are watching this process. 

We appreciate your support. You can find a full calendar of Summer Term bargaining sessions on our website.

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team