Your UAOSU bargaining team and the Administration team met on Tuesday, January 21 and again on Monday, January 27. We have made progress in bargaining, signing 17 tentative agreements. However, we still have a long way to go, with many major issues having yet to reach resolution. Over the past two sessions, the Administration has made clear that they do not see the need to improve many things at OSU.
Our proposals are faculty-centered. We’re disappointed that even on places where the Administration agrees with us that something needs to be done, like a sick leave bank, the Administration refuses to agree to a negotiated process and put it in the contract. Instead, they propose having a conversation with us before the Administration makes the ultimate decision.
Time and time again we’ve been told that policies in the handbook will suffice or that OSU intends to follow applicable law, such as FMLA leave.
One reason we organized our union is to be able to ensure that we have a voice in the decisions that affect us, our students, and the OSU community. Negotiating standards and policies into our union contract is a key way that we can have a voice in decisions and ensure transparency and accountability in policy details and how they are implemented.
As we know, policies change and laws can change. By refusing to include policies and procedures in the collective bargaining agreement, the Administration is reserving the right to change them arbitrarily, without including faculty in the process. Including important policies in our contract means the Administration is accountable to following those policies in a consistent and equitable manner. It’s time for them to put it in writing.
On January 21, we presented articles on Position Descriptions, Appointment and Reappointment. We also presented a Letter of Agreement ensuring that all members of the bargaining unit will have their position description updated within the next three years, which was tentatively agreed to. The Administration team presented articles on Management Rights and Union Rights.
On January 28, we re-presented several articles that the Administration team had previously ignored or responded to in a cursory manner: Retrenchment, Fringe Benefits, Intellectual Property, Professional Development, and Workload. The Administration team presented counter-proposals on Leaves and Benefits. As part of their Leaves package, Administration also presented two Letters of Agreement. The first of these would form a committee that would meet in Fall 2021 to explore the possible creation of a Sick Leave Transfer program; the second Letter of Agreement would explore possible support for prestigious fellowship opportunities for faculty through the formation of a similar committee on the same time frame. For both of these Letters of Agreement, the final decision on whether or not to implement the recommendations of the committee would belong to the Administration. All proposals are described in greater detail on our website.
Our website provides a table with links to all the articles for which we have presented proposals, along with the administration’s proposals.
The next bargaining session is 11:00–2:00 on Friday, February 7 in the LaSells Stewart Center. We plan to present articles on Promotion and Tenure. Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters: show the administration that faculty are watching this process.
Letter of Agreement on Position Descriptions: establishes a timeline and process for all position descriptions to be updated. Given the essential role of the position description in evaluation through annual performance reviews, it is crucial that it accurately reflects the work expected. We have come to a tentative agreement on this LoA.
Position Descriptions: we continue to push for clarity on how existing policy can be incorporated into the CBA. Because equity, inclusion, and diversity are part of how faculty are evaluated, they should be clearly outlined in every position description. Finally, we continue to argue that all faculty should have service FTE, both to recognize existing work being done, and to ensure shared governance. All faculty should have the ability to participate in meetings and committees that shape the university.
Appointment and Reappointment: faculty on joint appointments should be given a memorandum at the time of hire that outlines how their promotion will be handled. Tenure track faculty should continue to have an expectation of renewal of their annual appointments until their tenure decision. Administration remains resistant to even guaranteeing the current practice of multi-year contracts for promoted fixed-term faculty. The vast majority of faculty work hard to fulfill OSU’s research and teaching missions, and longer contracts add stability to these enterprises. We continue to push for rolling or extended contracts for fixed-term faculty who have achieved promotion. Faculty subject to disciplinary action are entitled to a fair process, as outlined in our Discipline article. Faculty who have been accused of wrong-doing should go through the disciplinary process where they will also be given the opportunity to defend themselves. Non-renewal should follow, not precede, the disciplinary process.
Retrenchment, Fringe Benefits, Intellectual Property, Professional Development, and Workload: these are all articles that we had previously presented early in the bargaining process, which had either been ignored by the Administration team (Fringe Benefits, Intellectual Property, Workload), or had been perfunctorily addressed in an Administration “package” counter-proposal, usually with a single sentence (Retrenchment, Professional Development). In an effort to find some common ground with the Administration, we have streamlined these articles to focus on the areas of greatest concern to our faculty members. During the course of this session, we engaged the Administration in a dialog about what we are hoping to accomplish with these proposals, emphasizing the elements of our proposals that address the need for stability, fair compensation, equal access to benefits and funding for professional development, and a greater voice in how intellectual property developed by our faculty is used by the university.
Leaves & Benefits: by contrast, the counter-proposals presented by the Administration team have been crafted to consolidate decision-making power in the hands of the administration. Their Leaves and Benefits articles, as presented, eliminate large sections of our original proposals intended to secure, among other things, a sick leave transfer program, sabbatical leave for non-tenure-track faculty, and a guarantee that the university will continue to contribute 6% to faculty retirement plans. The 6% salary pick-up is guaranteed in every higher education contract in Oregon state, including the SEIU contract recently negotiated by our classified colleagues here at OSU. The sick leave transfer program is also a benefit that our SEIU colleagues at OSU enjoy; however, the Administration inexplicably refuses to commit to this for unclassified faculty. Instead, they offered a Letter of Agreement for the formation of a committee that would “explore the option” of instituting such a program, which would not even meet until the fall of 2021.
In some instances, the Administration team’s articles went beyond indifference by actively weakening existing faculty programs. Their Leaves article gutted all language around Family and Medical Leave, replacing it instead with a single terse sentence asserting that the university will abide by state and federal law. In doing so, the Administration fails to even commit to continuing the current policy that provides for 60 hours of paid family leave for faculty who have just given birth to or adopted a child. The Administration team assured us in session that such language would be unnecessary, as the university has no current plans to discontinue this policy. In another act of sabotage, the Administration has added language to the Benefits article that would allow them to renegotiate the current 95%-5% employer premium contributions to health insurance if they are somehow able to get out of PEBB.
Your faculty union bargaining team is committed to making sure that faculty voices are heard with regard to the need for greater stability and shared governance. When the Administration team ignores our work toward these goals, we will continue to pressure them to engage with our proposals and to engage with us in meaningful discussions around those proposals.