Update for 11/8 Bargaining Session

he UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met 10–1 on Friday, November 8 in Cascades Hall. 49 faculty members observed the session.

This was an unusual session as neither side presented proposals or counter-proposals. UAOSU started the session by reminding the administration team of our bargaining priorities. We began by reiterating our commitment to collegiality at the bargaining table but also asserted that collegiality is more than just civility. True collegiality must also include real engagement with the issues and substantive proposals put forward. We formed a union in order to address long-standing problems at OSU, to speak with a collective faculty voice, and to move forward in solidarity with our colleagues. The compensation counter-proposal they presented at the end of our prior session on October 28 suggests that OSU administration doesn’t yet understand our principles or agenda. For the remainder of the session, the two teams discussed compensation and leaves.  

The next bargaining session will be on Wednesday, November 13 from 10-1 in Cascades Hall 139. We hope to see you there.  

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This was our 26th bargaining session which means we have now spent over 100 hours in direct bargaining. Our frustration with the lack of progress was a main topic of conversation at this session. The following paragraphs summarize the stance we have taken as representatives of our bargaining unit members. It is presented at length to affirm our commitment to the issues that ignited our effort to organize UAOSU and our current refusal to accept stagnant answers to longstanding issues at OSU.  

We framed our frustrations around two key themes: collegiality and our reasons for organizing the union. The issue of collegiality has come up a couple of times in bargaining, generally when voices have been raised and annoyance expressed at the table. We affirmed with the administration team our shared commitment to collegiality but asserted that it has to mean more than just civility. Collegiality does not exist, and civility is most likely to break down, when the ideas and proposals that we have spent months developing are rejected out-of-hand by the administration without justification or explanation. It is difficult to move forward when their counter-proposals seem to be starting from scratch rather than directly engaging with our suggestions.  

We also shared with the administration team our reasons for forming a union. One important reason for unionization was to solve long-standing problems for faculty at OSU. Issues like bridge funding for research faculty temporarily between grants and expanded child care on campus have been identified as priorities by the administration for years yet not acted upon. Our salaries have barely kept pace with inflation, they continue to lag behind those of our comparator universities, and raises have been inequitable when they leave out the 25% of faculty who are part-time or who have not had a performance review.   The policies that structure our employment are difficult to find, often contradictory, and inconsistently applied. We explained that this is a key reason why we need to have relevant policies included in the CBA where they will be both knowable and enforceable.  

Through unionization, the faculty speak with a common voice on issues of concern to us. The Provost’s attempt to bargain directly with the faculty over raises via email is unacceptable. The academic faculty at OSU chose to be represented by UAOSU and that choice must be respected by the administration. Attempts to sow division amongst faculty and between faculty and students are counter-productive. As our name — United Academics of Oregon State University — indicates, we stand united in our determination to make things better for all faculty. We cannot accept proposals, including both the recent MOU and the administration’s counter-proposal on compensation, that leave out and leave behind any of our colleagues. We know this is the way raises have been distributed in the past but we created UAOSU to prevent it from happening in the future. Faculty are the heart and soul of any university. Addressing long-standing problems equitably and through collaboration will strengthen the institution and benefit not just faculty but also students and other stake-holder groups.

While the administration team disputes our characterization of their proposals, we have reason to believe that they heard us on these issues. In light of our discussion they decided to hold back their counter-proposal on Leaves, which they had intended to present at this meeting, in order to reassess and modify it. We look forward to seeing their proposal, hopefully at our next session.

The remainder of this session was spent asking questions about their proposals on compensation and annual reviews. There was also conversation about more general goals for our first collective bargaining agreement. The discussion flowed between different topics which we have tried to summarize.

  • The administration continues to be opposed to putting current OSU policies in the CBA. The key concern appears to be the possibility that lots of grievances will be filed when the policies are not followed. The UAOSU position is that policies that aren’t in the CBA can be changed without faculty input and that, unless failure to follow official policies is grievable, the policies themselves don’t really matter.
  • Many policies and procedures are established by colleges and academic units. While both parties agree that this is appropriate, UAOSU would like contractual guarantees that faculty will have regular and sustained input into the formulation of such policies. Current policies around performance reviews, the distribution of merit raises, standard workloads, and unit level governance often exacerbate existing inequities. In a university of the size and complexity of OSU, “one size fits all” policies may create problems but UAOSU is committed to the proposition that workable policies cannot be crafted without faculty input.
  • The administration position seems to be that since we can’t have everything we might want in our first contract, we shouldn’t have anything (or very little). This is particularly true when looking at the various “economic” proposals we have presented. The administration argues that our proposals are too expensive but they have not provided data to support that argument. Nor have they provided actual counter-proposals. Their compensation article, for example, contains no regular raises and leaves it to the Provost to determine what raises we will receive and when. This is obviously a departure from nearly all other collective bargaining agreements.  
  • The 3% pool for faculty raises is arbitrary as is the division between 1.8% across the board and 1.2% merit increases. In contrast, our proposals would establish regular cost-of-living increases that follow the Consumer Price Index, a larger merit pool to reward excellence, and a dedicated pool of monies to address equity issues. The current budget model shifts financial responsibility to academic units. UAOSU believes that central administration must shoulder some of these costs.  
  • Not all faculty members receive annual reviews which makes them ineligible for raises. Faculty below .5 FTE, post-docs, and senior research faculty are not always given performance reviews. There are more than 700 faculty members who will not receive even cost-of-living raises in the Provost’s proposed salary increases. We need a policy on Annual Reviews that will not leave them out. Meaningful feedback is also crucial if faculty are to continue to improve their job performance and to develop as professionals.  
  • The administration team has indicated that they don’t intend to counter a number of proposals that are important to faculty. These include Faculty Governance, Intellectual Property, Workload, Hiring Information, and Benefits to Retirees.  

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

The next bargaining session is 10–1 on Wednesday, November 13 in Cascades Hall 139. 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 Fall Term bargaining sessions on our website.

Join with us in negotiating for fairer compensation for all OSU faculty:

· Sign our petition to let the administration know you want a fair contract.

· Become a member to strengthen our union.

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team