Response to Provost Feser’s Salary Increase Program (10.31.19)

Dear Colleagues, 

On Monday, our UAOSU bargaining team was offered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on compensation for the 2020 fiscal year (FY2020). The MOU:

  • required us to sign away our right to negotiate salaries for FY2020 in exchange for inclusion in the faculty salary increase program announced by the University’s Provost for FY2020;
  • provided no written specifications as to eligibility criteria, the size of the raise pool, minimum raises for those eligible, or the process for determining the distribution of merit raises; 
  • was delivered in the closing minutes of the bargaining session, giving us no opportunity to ask questions or negotiate over these provisions; and 
  • allowed us only three days to respond.

On Monday night, Provost Feser sent an email announcing  the Provost’s salary increase program. As part of his message, Provost Feser again indicated that in order for bargaining unit faculty to particulate in this program, our union would have to agree to give up our right to bargain for raises for all faculty in FY2020, thereby excluding postdoctoral faculty, all faculty with less than 0.5 FTE, and faculty who did not receive an annual review.

Our Organizing Committee considered the matter at length on Tuesday evening and resolved to decline to sign the MOU and to continue bargaining over salaries. The administration has a legal obligation to bargain with us in good faith. Their attempts to impose a short and arbitrary deadline, provide no opportunity for questions or discussion, and abruptly move negotiations away from the bargaining table and into our inboxes, are alarming steps out of line with good faith bargaining.

The full text of our response to the Assistant Provost of Academic Employee and Labor Relations can be found here.

We formed our union to have a voice in our university’s governance and to be able to negotiate over issues that are important to us, including compensation. We expect the administration to negotiate in good faith for salaries and working conditions, not to wait months to provide a proposal that would maintain a flawed status quo with no time to discuss or interrogate the proposal and with an unnecessary and unreasonable deadline of three days to reply. 

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

In solidarity,

Your UAOSU Bargaining Team

Bargaining Session 23 Update (10.11.19)

After a tense session in Bend, we met briefly with the administration team to exchange two proposals, and importantly, to set the agenda for our next bargaining session. The upcoming session on October 28, 9am–1pm will feature the following: 

  • Our counters to the outrageous administration proposals on Benefits and Appointment, Reappointment, Review and Promotion which threaten to weaken job stability and which refuse to guarantee existing levels of insurance and retirement benefits. 
  • The Administration’s response to our remaining economic proposals, which include Compensation, Family and Medical Leave, and Research Support. 

The issues we will discuss on October 28 constitute the backbone of our bargaining platform, which we developed using several years of input from faculty across OSU’s campuses. Our proposals reflect what faculty have been saying for years about how we can make OSU a better institution for all of us. Your attendance at the October 28 session will show the administration that faculty are paying attention and expect a fair contract that will provide equity and stability in employment and a robust grievance process that will ensure compliance with the terms of the Agreement. Read on for a full summary of the October 11 session. 


The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met 9–10 on Friday, October 11 in the LaSells Stewart Center. Twenty-nine faculty members observed the session.

We presented a counterproposal on Academic Freedom, again seeking to limit the conditions under which grades can be changed by the administration. We affirmed the importance of being able to grieve violations of academic freedom: the grievance procedure is our primary means to enforce the Collective Bargaining Agreement and to hold the administration accountable to their stated values and policies.  

The administration presented a counterproposal on Dues Deduction, reflecting movement in alignment with state law. 

After the exchange of these proposals, both parties shared the expected agenda for the October 28 session. The administration will respond to our remaining economic proposals, which include Compensation, Family and Medical Leave, and Research Support. 

Our website provides a table with links to the forty-nine articles for which we have presented proposals, along with the administration’s proposals on twenty-three articles.

The next bargaining session is 9–1 on October 28 in the LaSells Stewart Center. We plan to counter the dismal proposals that administration presented in Bend, including articles on health-insurance and retirement benefits, appointment, position descriptions, annual reviews, promotion, and tenure. The administration’s team plans to return all of the remaining proposals that we have presented that have a financial component — except for any that they will entirely refuse to counter. October 28th will be an important session.  Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance will make a difference: show the administration that you are watching.

Join us after bargaining on Monday October 28, 4 – 6pm, for our quarterly happy hour at McMenamins on Monroe. This is a great opportunity to connect with fellow OSU faculty, speak with members of the bargaining and contract action team, and to learn about ways you can help secure a strong first contract. Chris Sinclair, current President of the United Academics of the University of Oregon, will be there to share the history and successes of their union.  RSVP here by 2pm on 10/28 for a drink ticket.

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

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team

Bargaining Session 22 Update (10.05.19)

During the bargaining session on Saturday at OSU-Cascades, the administration took a new stance that would radically weaken compensation and job protections for faculty. Among the administration’s most troubling proposals were:

The session on Saturday in Bend went from 9am-5pm. Six faculty members observed the session.

The morning of bargaining saw our UAOSU team presenting counterproposals on Dues Deduction and Academic Classification & Rank and the administration team presenting counterproposals on Academic FreedomGrievance Procedure, and Arbitration. While these administration’s counterproposals contained some troubling issues, they were largely consistent with the progress towards agreement that the two teams have been making in recent weeks.

The counterproposals the administration presented in the afternoon were very different.

In their first response to our financial proposals, the administration gave us a one-page counterproposal titled Benefits that could radically alter the health insurance and retirement benefits that faculty receive. Instead of agreeing to maintain the current 95% employer contribution to our PEBB health-insurance premiums, they proposed that the administration be given the unfettered flexibility to reduce the amount they pay. Our team pointed out that under their proposal, the administration could decide that faculty were responsible for 100% of the health insurance premium, which would be a cut in annual compensation of $16,000 for the average faculty member and $26,000 for a faculty member whose spouse and children were also covered by their PEBB health insurance. While the administration team said that it was not their intent to change the 95% employer contribution, they agreed that their proposal would allow them to do so at will.

By asserting their right to modify the provisions of our benefits, the administration is refusing to commit—even for the three- to five-year life of this contract—to maintain the current amounts of our compensation for health insurance and retirement benefits, protections that are routine in union contracts, including the agreement that Oregon universities reached with their classified staff last week.

Their one-page Benefits proposal was intended to address six of our proposals: Public Employee Benefits (health insurance etc), Postdoctoral Scholar and Postdoctoral Fellow Health PlanRetirement BenefitsFringe BenefitsBenefits for Eligible Retired Faculty Members (fringe benefits for retirees), and Transportation & Parking. For the most part, the administration’s counterproposals did not address the issues in our proposals, issues voiced to UAOSU by the OSU faculty.

The administration also produced an alarming four-page counterproposal on Appointment, Reappointment, Review and Promotion and a short Letter of Agreement on Position Descriptions in response to UAOSU’s eleven proposals: Hiring InformationNotice of AppointmentPosition DescriptionsAnnual ReviewMidterm ReviewPost-Tenure ReviewGeneral Guidelines for Promotion & TenurePromotion & Tenure in the Tenure-Track ClassificationPromotion in the Fixed-Term Instructional Categories and Fixed-Term Research CategoriesPromotion in the Fixed-Term Professorial Categories, and Retrenchment. The administration’s counterproposal:

  • Introduced a formal class of faculty, Term-by-Term Instructors, that is new to OSU;
  • Removed the guarantee of multi-year contracts for post-promotion fixed-term faculty;
  • Removed protections from arbitrary dismissal or reduction in assigned FTE for post-promotion fixed-term faculty;
  • Removed access to promotions and annual reviews for part-time faculty;
  • Removed many details that protect faculty from arbitrary decisions from the promotion & tenure process; and
  • Mostly importantly, declared that disputes “relating to appointment, reappointment, review, and promotion and tenure are not subject to the Grievance and Arbitration Articles of this Agreement”, so that there is no mechanism to hold the administration accountable to follow the mild restrictions they proposed for themselves.

These are disturbing demands that reduce faculty stability from the current policies and practices at OSU.

We were surprised and dismayed by the level of disrespect for faculty reflected in the administration’s counterproposals. We had been making progress in our negotiations and see this as a large setback. The administration’s counterproposals would reverse the progress that has been made at OSU over the past years, particularly for fixed-term faculty.

The administration’s team is intent on creating a minimalist collective bargaining agreement, with few guarantees of faculty rights, protections, and self-governance. This model of academic employment was imported by our new Provost and Assistant Provost for Academic Employee and Labor Relations, who both came from the University of Illinois system where there has been significant labor strife. This is most emphatically not in the best interests of OSU.

The purpose of a CBA is to clearly prescribe all matters related to our employment at OSU and, crucially, to be able to enforce them through the grievance process. The administration has adopted the practice of adding a “not grievable” statement at the end of many of their proposals. Without an enforcement mechanism, their “statements of intent” are just words on a page. The administration is asserting the right to change or ignore policies and current practices at will.

Our ability to bargain successfully for a fair contract depends on all of us participating. Make your voice heard by attending bargaining sessions; becoming a member; getting involved in building our organizational structure and culture; wearing UAOSU buttons and T-shirts, especially on Fridays; and talking with your colleagues about what we are hoping to accomplish. We have reached a crucial stage in the negotiations and need concerted effort from you to get the fair contract we need.

The next bargaining sessions are 9–1 on Friday, October 11 and 9–1 on Monday, October 28, both in the LaSells Stewart Center. 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, where you can also find a table with links to all of the articles that both teams have proposed.

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team

Bargaining Session 20 & 21 Update (09.23.19 & 09.25.19)

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met from 1 to 4 PM on Monday, September 23 and from 10 AM –2 PM on Wednesday, September 25. Both sessions were held in the LaSells Stewart Center. 23 faculty members observed the sessions.

On Monday, the administration presented 2 counterproposals: Non-Discrimination (with Letter of Agreement on Committee on Respectful Workplace) and Health & Safety. We tentatively agreed on Non-Discrimination and the LOA.

On Wednesday, UAOSU presented 3 counterproposals: ArbitrationAcademic Freedom, and Discipline & Termination. The administration presented Dues Deduction.

Both sides tentatively agreed on language supporting non-discrimination. Key to the agreement was our insistence to form a committee for reviewing and improving processes and strategies available to faculty involved in cases of discrimination, harassment, or bullying. In a side letter of agreement, members of UAOSU will coordinate with administration to develop a plan and meeting agendas to address mediation, restorative justice, and professional services. The recommendations resulting from this committee will have university-wide impact and be considered for future inclusion into the collective bargaining agreement. While the administration balked at inviting other stakeholders, e.g. SEIU, CGE, ASOSU, to the joint committee, UAOSU will continue to push for inclusion of other interested parties on campus.

In the Health, Safety, Facilities, and Workspaces Article, the administration acknowledged that the university has an interest to “make reasonable efforts” to provide faculty with appropriate workspaces, in particular private meeting spaces with students. Still, they have removed specific mention of basic workspace provisions, e.g. clean, safe drinking water, restrooms, basic classroom equipment, that are included in the OSU Safety Policy and Procedures Manual. While we are pushing for a clear commitment, the administration team only wants to “make reasonable efforts to” furnish and maintain the workspaces in safe working condition. We continue to push for greater transparency in the decision-making process of how equipment is repaired or replaced if damaged while it is still part of an active grant or teaching project.

On Wednesday, UAOSU countered the administration’s proposals on Arbitration, Academic Freedom, and Discipline & Termination. The major areas of disagreement have decreased, but the remaining issues are very deep. While we are pushing to ensure that faculty with legitimate grievances can have all appropriate back pay and benefits awarded to them in arbitration, administration wants to limit back pay and benefits to 30 days. While the Administration team continues to rely on aspirational assertions regarding Academic Freedom, we think that UAOSU’s members deserve enforceable language that protects faculty’s rights. In one area of particular interest, we proposed language restricting the conditions under which an active faculty member’s final grade could be changed. Administration narrowly focused on incompletes, but our discussion was more about standard letter grades being changed without faculty member consent.

In the counterproposal from the administration on Dues Deduction, they proposed that they would handle disenrollments and we would handle membership. We argued that both processes would be our purview. Their proposed process would be different than SEIU and CGE.

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 9–5 on October 5 at OSU-Cascades in 205 Obsidian Hall. We plan to present articles on Health and Safety, Facilities, and Workspaces; Academic Classification; and more. The administration’s team plans to present Academic Freedom, Grievance Procedure, Arbitration, Notice of Appointment, Annual Evaluations, and Promotion & Tenure (and some economic proposals).

The next bargaining sessions in Corvallis will be October 11 and 28. Administration has pledged to present their economic package before the end of October. 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 calendar of Fall Term bargaining sessions on our website.

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team

Bargaining Session 19 Update (09.18.19)

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met 12–4 on Wednesday, September 18 in the LaSells Stewart Center. Twenty-five faculty members observed the session.

The session began with UAOSU offering to accept the administration’s most recent counterproposal on the Recognition article. Although Recognition is a small article consisting of boilerplate contract language, this nevertheless represents a small step forward in reaching a collective bargaining agreement.

The administration then presented counterproposals on Arbitration, Discipline and Termination, and Academic Freedom. In each case, they had accepted some of our language from our latest counterproposal; however, our discussion of these articles demonstrated that areas of significant disagreement remain.

With their Arbitration counterproposal, the administration continues to try to limit the authority of an arbitrator to remedy violations of university policy and the collective bargaining agreement. For example, their language prohibits the reinstatement of a faculty member who has lost their appointment without the due process prescribed by university policy and the collective bargaining agreement. Furthermore, in their proposal, an arbitrator finding that a faculty member was entitled to back pay and benefits would only be able to award them retroactively up to 30 days before the date of a grievance. The rationale provided for this short time limit is that it is the responsibility of faculty to know how much they are paid each month. However, as the UAOSU team pointed out, grievances can be used to address inequities in pay, which requires a faculty member to be aware of how their salary compares to that of their colleagues. After absurdly positing that faculty members should know their colleagues’ salaries and observe any inequities immediately, the administration admitted that their language was crafted to protect the monetary interests of the university, rather than to serve the interests of fairness and equitable treatment of faculty.

While we are moving closer to agreement on the Discipline and Termination article, the administration’s counterproposal still contains a few ambiguities. Notably, their contract language appears to allow for the administration to use disciplinary sanctions normally reserved for policy violations as tools for addressing performance issues. The examples used by the administration team during our discussion of the proposal seemed to confirm that they see this as a possibility. However, mechanisms for handling performance issues through annual reviews and through the promotion process already exist in university policy, and are addressed in other articles proposed by UAOSU. Our goal with the Discipline and Termination article is to have clear language that describes reasonable, progressive discipline to address violations of policy by faculty members. We will continue to work with the administration to find that clarity in upcoming sessions.

The administration’s Academic Freedom counterproposal weakens the language that UAOSU has proposed to protect extramural expression and the right of faculty to speak on matters of university governance. They have also removed our language that protects the right of faculty members to assign grades without having them arbitrarily or capriciously changed by the administration. Particularly troubling is the administration’s language that exempts matters of academic freedom from the grievance process. Academic Freedom is one of several articles in which the administration has employed this tactic to weaken protections for faculty in the collective bargaining agreement. The bargaining team provided multiple examples of ways faculty rights to academic freedom and participation in university governance could be violated, and why members would want to grieve such instances. It is the position of UAOSU that a robust collective bargaining agreement must provide the basis for handling disputes involving violations of the agreement. Carving out sections of the agreement that are exempt from grievance and/or arbitration makes them unenforceable, and weakens the contract as a whole. The UAOSU team will continue to push back against this tactic in future bargaining sessions.

UAOSU presented counterproposals on Non-DiscriminationUnion Rights, Release Time, and Grievance Procedure. The administration team had previously collapsed UAOSU’s proposal on Non-Discrimination and our proposal on Sexual Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination into a single proposal, and moved our language calling for the formation of a Labor Management Committee on Respectful Workplaces into a separate Letter of Agreement for a Committee on a Respectful Workplace. We accepted most of the language in their Non-Discrimination proposal and added language to their Letter of Agreement to strengthen the mandate of the committee and to ensure that its recommendations will be negotiated by the administration and UAOSU for the purposes of incorporating them into the collective bargaining agreement. We look forward to reaching a tentative agreement on this article soon.

The Union Rights and Release Time counterproposals were submitted to the administration as a package. These are brief articles consisting of standard contract language designed to define some of the interactions between the administration and UAOSU, and to structure time for faculty members who are union representatives to perform union-related duties.

In our Grievance Procedure counterproposal, UAOSU has accepted most of the language from the administration’s last proposal; however, a major sticking point remains in the administration’s insistence on exempting grievances involving discrimination from the arbitration process. Attempting to find some common ground with the administration on this point, we sought to define circumstances in which both sides could agree that arbitration would not be appropriate, as well as circumstances in which arbitration would be both warranted and necessary.

UAOSU concluded the session by reminding the administration that we are still waiting on counterproposals for the majority of the articles currently on the table. While we appreciate that the administration team has, of late, been engaging with our proposals more meaningfully, the fact remains that they have responded to less than a third of our proposals. To date, our tentative agreements have been in areas of standard contract language. We need their engagement and counterproposals achieve a contract that addresses workplace issues, job security, and economics. We will continue to hold their feet to the fire while we await their counterproposals; in the meantime, you can do your part to hold the administration accountable by attending one of the upcoming bargaining sessions with a colleague. Numbers matter, and we can send a clear message to the administration by packing the room with engaged faculty.The next bargaining sessions are from 1–4pm on Monday, September 23 and from 10am –2pm on Wednesday, September 25, both in the LaSells Stewart Center

.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 upcoming bargaining sessions on our website.

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team

Proposals Exchanged on 18 September

UAOSU Proposals

Administration Proposals

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

Bargaining Sessions 16 & 17 Updates (8.26.19 & 8.28.19)

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met noon to 4 p.m. on Monday, August 26 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28 in the LaSells Stewart Center. Twenty faculty members observed these sessions.

On Monday, we continued to press the administration team about what specifically counts as a “policy” when they state that the employer will follow university policy within their proposals. Is a university standard or a university rule considered a “policy” or does it only count as policy if it is labeled as such? Does EOA policy count? Do unit-level policies count as “policy” as well? The administration responded that they can only answer such questions one article at a time. We will continue to press this issue to ensure a robust contract.

Then the administration team presented their counterproposal on Academic Freedom. Within this counterproposal the employer states many faculty obligations and a few academic freedoms…but with serious caveats.

Regarding scholarship, the counterproposal states that “bargaining unit members are entitled to freedom in their scholarly and creative work,” but immediately follows that up with “subject to the adequate performance of their academic duties.” This seems to imply that inadequate performance as measured by the employer may take away from faculty freedom in their scholarly and creative work. We will continue to fight this alarming interpretation of academic freedom in our counter-proposal to this article.  

Regarding teaching, the counterproposal states that bargaining unit members have the freedom to “assess student performance,” meaning the assignment of grades, but that this freedom is subject to the University’s “evaluation of adequate performance.” The administration wants to retain the authority to change grades without faculty consent or even knowledge. Though the administration’s team maintained that it would be rare that such a grade change would happen, we believe that our bargaining unit members have a right to know when and why their assessment decisions are being over-ridden.  

The counterproposal also states that the “Parties mutually acknowledge that the Agreement is not the appropriate method for resolving disputes involving academic freedom.” Naturally the Union bargaining team asked what the appropriate method is. The administration team responded that it would be the faculty senate grievance procedure. The Union team’s position on the exclusion of parts and provisions of the Agreement from the Grievance and Arbitration Articles continues to be that it is inappropriate that the institution itself is the arbiter of whether the institution violated an Article in the Agreement. Then we asked if discipline for violations of academic freedom would be grievable, to which the administration responded that they would be. But it is hard to imagine how a grievance of such discipline wouldn’t refer to the Academic Freedom article, since the discipline is based on the violation of this Article.

On Wednesday the UAOSU bargaining team presented counterproposals on Non-DiscriminationGrievance, and Personnel Records. There was some good back and forth discussion on the intent of our counterproposals. On Personnel Records, the sides reached a tentative agreement! There are still some disagreements to work through on Non-Discrimination and Grievance, especially related to whether university “policy” would be grievable and whether grievances related to the Non-Discrimination Article can be taken to arbitration. However, from the discussion during Wednesday’s session, it is clear that both sides are getting closer to agreement on many parts of these articles.

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

The next bargaining session is 1–5 on September 10 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. 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

Proposals Exchanged on 26 August

Administration Proposals

Proposals Exchanged on 28 August

UAOSU Proposals

Bargaining Session 15 Update (8.21.19)

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met on Wednesday, August 21 from 12-4 in the LaSells Stewart Center. There were 33 faculty members in attendance.  

The session began with a lengthy discussion of university policies and how best to include those policies in the collective bargaining agreement. There are a number of significant issues to be resolved. At the most basic level, we must first agree on what constitutes “policy” as we have been told in previous sessions that just because something can be found under the heading of “policy” in the university policy library, it does not necessarily rise to the level of actual policy and may in fact be just a “procedure.” This could be a crucial distinction in those cases where the administration prefers contract language indicating that they will “follow applicable policy.” What precisely are they agreeing to in those instances? Will they be able to avoid doing things we thought they had agreed to by arguing that those things are not really policy? The administration team has expressed reluctance to include, by reference, all existing policies and procedures in the CBA. In the absence of such inclusion, UAOSU will need to be very explicit in our contract language around important issues such as tenure and promotion, access to personnel records, and so on. When not specifically delineated within the CBA, these policies (or “rules,” “standards,” or “procedures”) are subject to change without meaningful input from faculty. Moreover, when not part of the CBA, violations of university policy would not be subject to the grievance process. The existing policies are hard to find, sometimes poorly written, and often confusing, as anyone who has looked at the promotion and tenure guidelines, for example, can attest. An important goal of our first CBA will be to make university policy more accessible, easier to understand, and enforceable. What we are seeking to change is the current situation in which faculty must abide by university policy, and are subject to discipline when they do not, but the administration does not have a corresponding level of accountability.  

The administration brought a counter to our original proposal on Health, Safety, Facilities, and Work Spaces which notably left out “Facilities and Work Spaces.” While the administration team asserted their commitment to pcroviding adequate working conditions for faculty, they expressed “no interest” in contract language that guarantees such things as private office spaces to meet with students (as required by FERPA), appropriate employee training, safe workplaces, necessary equipment, or a joint committee on deferred maintenance. Also dropped from their counterproposal were UAOSU provisions that would require, in most cases, one term’s notice before moving faculty to new offices or labs and that would prohibit the administration from unilateral decisions to permanently relocate faculty members to other campuses. While we have no reason to doubt their good intentions, the whole point of a contract is to set up enforceable agreements. If not included in the CBA, their good intentions can, and probably will, be set aside whenever they become practically or financially inconvenient. This is particularly problematic when issues of health and safety are concerned. The language proposed by the administration team states that they will “attempt to resolve” health and safety issues but does not include an actual requirement to do so. If the administration is truly committed to providing faculty with the spaces, equipment, and training necessary to do their jobs, then the administration needs to be willing to make those commitments in writing. Good intentions and vague promises are insufficient, and we will continue to have these important conversations at the bargaining table.  

The administration team also presented a package proposal on management and union rights. These are crucial issues that go right to the heart of faculty governance. As is generally the case, the administration wants a very expansive enumeration of their rights but not their responsibilities. Not surprisingly, they want the exact opposite for faculty in which our responsibilities, but not our rights, would be clearly detailed in contract language. Faculty governance issues also require a consideration of the Faculty Senate role in establishing academic standards and curriculum. The administration team has so far expressed opposition to any mention of Faculty Senate and its prerogatives in the CBA. UAOSU recognizes the important role of the Faculty Senate and believe that our interests will be best served by working cooperatively with one another, UAOSU on employment issues and Faculty Senate on academic issues. We are academic employees so there is considerable overlap between employment and academic matters and we believe that the achievement of shared governance requires the robust participation of both UAOSU and Faculty Senate. Faculty Senate currently exists as an advisory body only. By specifying their role in the CBA, we can safeguard their authority and enhance the role of faculty in university governance.  

Our website includes a table with links to the various proposals and counter-proposals that have been exchanged thus far.  

The next bargaining sessions is from 12–4 on Today, August 26 and 9-1 on Wednesday, August 28 in the LaSells Stewart Center. We hope you will join us. Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters; show the administration that faculty are watching this process and expecting a strong first contract.

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

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team

Administration Proposals

Bargaining Sessions 13 & 14 Updates (8.13.19 & 8.15.19)

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met from 12–3 pm on Tuesday, August 13 and 12–4 on Thursday, August 15, in the LaSells Stewart Center. Thirty-one faculty members observed the two sessions.

On Tuesday, we brought a counterproposal on Personnel Files. The administration brought a package of three articles on Discipline and TerminationGrievance, and Arbitration.

On Thursday, the administration brought a counterproposal on Personnel Records. We spent much of the session asking questions about their package of proposals from Tuesday. Their three articles share concerning differences from our proposals.  

For example, the administration’s approach to grievances over incidents of discrimination severely limits the opportunities of faculty in seeking justice. Our proposal provided a longer timeline for filing a grievance in these cases, given the trauma involved. The administration not only shortened our proposed timeline, but would specifically prohibit these cases from going to arbitration — that is, these grievances can only end with a decision from within the institution where the discrimination occurred, rather than from an external third party arbitrator. The only remaining option for faculty members would be to file complaints with state or federal agencies or to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit. We believe that faculty members should be able to address these issues at the lowest level possible.

One ongoing and important contention is the administration’s position on how existing OSU policy fits into the contract. They have stated they do not have an interest in including all existing policies in the collective bargaining agreement. However, this would severely limit what can be grieved and ultimately brought to binding third party arbitration. While faculty may be disciplined for not following policies, the administration remains accountable only to itself. We seek to more fully incorporate existing policies.

While personnel files and the grievance procedure are important issues and we are relieved that some progress is being made, there are many important issues that the administration has not yet addressed at the table. We have heard nothing from them on the length of contracts for fixed-term faculty, nothing about the promotion and tenure process for all faculty, nothing about updated job descriptions, and nothing about improved compensation. We pushed them to be ready to discuss these issues soon, as their approach to these crucial issues will shape the ultimate course of bargaining and the future of OSU.

Our website provides a table with links to the forty-eight articles for which we have presented proposals, along with the administration’s proposals on sixteen articles.  

The next bargaining session is 12–4pm on Wednesday, August 21 in the LaSells Stewart Center. Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters: show the administration that faculty are watching this process.

Please join us after the session for a happy hour with Erik Loomis, labor historian and author of the recent book A History of America in Ten StrikesWednesday, August 21 4:30–6:30pm at McMenamin’s on Monroe. Come learn more about US labor history, ask the bargaining team and staff any questions you may have, and get to know more of your colleagues. RSVP by August 20 for a free drink on UAOSU.

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

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team