4.16.24 Bargaining Update: Generative AI, Grievances & Termination, PROFs, and more

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met at 9am on Wednesday, April 11 in Cascade Hall. The administration team passed counterproposals on Dues Deduction, Non-Discrimination (which we have proposed as Non-Discrimination and Respectful Workplace) and Grievance Procedure. The UAOSU team passed counterproposals on Periodic Review of Faculty and Discipline & Termination, as well as a new proposed Letter of Agreement on Artificial Intelligence. In addition, we engaged in some discussion related to new criteria for promotion for Instructors, Faculty Research Assistants, and Professors of Teaching, the future of the requirement for external review letters for promotion of non-professorial faculty, and a yet-to-be provided list of caregiving resources the administration promised our team when they refused our Caregiving proposal.

 

UPCOMING SESSIONS

Use the links below to add these to your calendar. Please double-check the location on our website before you head over, as there may be some changes. 

 

FULL UPDATE

This session reflected some ongoing patterns in how each party is approaching these negotiations. We continue to explain our rationale and look for ways to move issues forward, rather than merely repeatedly inserting/deleting the same language. The administration team habitually strikes language with non-explanations such as the proposals are too granular, too procedural, or that they simply don’t have an interest in incorporating this language into the contract. However, these proposals address issues of importance to faculty that the administration team simply hasn’t taken the time to understand.

 

We began the session with a discussion of some pending bargaining-related matters, several of which are related to promotion. With regard to the newly-implemented Professor of Teaching rank, we had previously agreed to use the same criteria for promotion as those used for Professors of Practice until new criteria could be agreed upon with UAOSU through our bargaining process. In a related matter, we agreed that the Faculty Senate-proposed changes to the promotion criteria for Instructors and Faculty Research assistants should also be discussed in bargaining. UAOSU will be bringing both of these subjects to the table in future bargaining sessions.

 

We also discussed the future of external letters for non-professorial fixed-term faculty. UAOSU had agreed to waive the requirement for external letters for the current promotion cycle with the provision that we would meet with the administration after the first year to assess potential impacts . We are currently waiting for the administration to produce data on this so that we can engage in fruitful discussions about how to proceed. The administration team assured us that they have this data and it will be shared soon.

 

In a previous bargaining session, the administration team had summarily rejected our Caregiving proposal, which sought to address a pressing need for many faculty at OSU. At that time, they had promised to provide us with a list that would detail the wide variety of caregiving resources that they have made available to our faculty. We reminded them that we have not yet received this list. They assured us that we will receive that list shortly. Irrespective of what is on that list, we know that another $500k to support faculty caregiving needs can do a lot of good, and a chance to collaborate with administration on where it can be best put to work is needed. 

 

In the three counterproposals that the administration team passed in this session—Dues Deduction, Non-Discrimination (from our proposal on Non-Discrimination and Respectful Workplace), and Grievance Procedure—the administration had simply crossed out all of our proposed new language and returned them. The single exception was some language around bullying in the Non-Discrimination proposal, in which they accepted a small snippet of our proposal and then added language of their own to make it mean the opposite of what we proposed. This is simply unacceptable as a bargaining tactic, and we informed them of this in the session! Furthermore, the administration team’s practice of simply crossing out proposals and returning them without engaging with our ideas has become so common that they themselves called it out in this session, pointing out that the Grievance Procedure counterproposal was the exact same thing they had given us last time, so we shouldn’t need them to explain their reasons again. We did, however, manage to engage them in some discussion around these proposals.

 

In Dues Deduction, they struck language that allows members to have other fees or deductions, other than dues, deducted from their paychecks, acknowledging that the administration has this legal obligation but stating that they have no interest in codifying their legal obligation in our contract. This has been a recurring theme during our bargaining, in which the administration declines to include contract language that would allow members to address issues via a simple internal grievance, rather than pursuing legal action at the state level.

 

We are particularly concerned by the administration’s consistent refusal to accept any proposal that would specifically address bullying and allow it to be grievable alongside related contract violations. For the second time, they have returned a proposal that removes even the reference to a respectful workplace. Their team states that OSU already has a process for dealing with bullying and they have no interest in engaging with us on the issue beyond that. The administration team gave us a vague assurance that they will look at the issue and handle it without any input. Obviously, the UAOSU team will continue to advocate for shared governance and for protections for faculty around this issue.

 

In Grievance Procedure, the administration team once again simply crossed out our proposed language without attempting to engage with any of the issues presented. When we pushed them for further discussion, they inexplicably expressed disappointment in our focus on grievance procedure and the resolution of faculty problems through the grievance process, despite previously rejecting our proposal for an informal process that would help to reduce the number of formal grievances!

 

The UAOSU team brought back counterproposals: Periodic Review of Faculty and Discipline and Termination. In both articles, we had reinserted proposed language that had been summarily stricken by the administration team. In our Periodic Review of Faculty proposal, we proposed language that would require annual reviews to clearly state whether the reviewee met, exceeded, or failed to meet expectations for the review period. Furthermore, we proposed that reviews be conducted such that faculty would not fail a review for temporarily falling behind in one area of their job duties that makes up a minority of their position description. Weirdly, the administration team insists that it may be necessary to give out an overall “does not meet expectations” on annual reviews even for relatively small portions of your assigned work. We know that clarity and fairness in performance review outcomes is important to our members, especially because of their effects on promotion and salary increases.

 

In our Discipline and Termination article, we brought back proposed language that would prevent faculty from being formally disciplined for poor work performance unless non-disciplinary attempts had been made to help them improve work performance through a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Our goal is to make sure that faculty are treated fairly, such that a negative outcome in one performance review does not become the basis for discipline that could lead to termination. Administration wants to reserve the right to use PIPs however they want. 

 

Finally, we presented a new Letter of Agreement on Artificial Intelligence. In this LoA, we propose a committee consisting of representatives from both the union and the administration that would meet at least semiannually to investigate emerging issues related to generative AI (GAI). During the lively discussion that followed, we explained to the administration team that the issues around GAI are still too nebulous to build a prescriptive article around, but there are applications of this emerging technology that could impact some faculty in the near future. This LoA represents our efforts to work collaboratively to be prepared if such issues arise during the period of our next contract. 

 

Our website provides a table with links to the 24 articles and 2 LOAs for which we have presented proposals, along with the administration’s proposals on 15 articles.

 

The next bargaining session is 9am–12pm on Wednesday, April 17 in LaSells Stewart Center (room TBD, please check our website for updates). Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters: show the administration that faculty are watching this process. 

 

You can find a list of the currently scheduled bargaining sessions, as well as read our updates and proposals at uaosu.org/bargaining.

 

Our power in negotiations comes from all of us working together as a united faculty. Becoming a member is the first step in supporting your bargaining team and securing a strong second contract . You can become a member online by going to uaosu.org/join.

 

In solidarity,


Bill Thomas and Your Bargaining Team