Bargaining process update
As is typical when parties negotiate a first-ever collective bargaining agreement, the initial proposals for each article of the agreement between the university and academic faculty union have been presented by the United Academics of Oregon State University. The volume of those proposals is considerable. The UAOSU bargaining team has introduced 46 articles, comprising over 100 pages of contract language proposing various and significant modifications to OSU academic and administrative policy. Reaching agreement on such a large volume of text, with wide-ranging implications is taking time.
As well, the University has evaluated carefully the aggregate cost of everything UAOSU has proposed. The estimated economic expense of UAOSU’s proposals totals more than $39 million annually, beyond existing costs associated with this faculty employee group. Managing such an increased expense would require significant adjustments in either university revenues or expenditures. By way of comparison, in FY19, Oregon State University managed a budget shortfall of $8 million annually, and the university and its employees have become familiar with the significant impacts of that shortfall. In this context, a $39 million increase in expenditures is not trivial. Again, reaching agreement on such proposals and their costs will take time.
Positional bargaining—the style that UAOSU and the University are following in order to reach common ground—is intentionally deliberate and time consuming, but we believe will produce accord. In this system, the Union offers an initial proposal on a given article and the University responds with a counterproposal, which often prompts a Union counterproposal to the counterproposal offered by the University. That cycle continues over additional iterations, with each party gradually adapting its positions to achieve agreement. In 25 bargaining sessions, the University and UAOSU have reached tentative agreements on 11 articles by sharing, discussing and ultimately finalizing the article’s language.
The University bargaining team has repeatedly expressed its trust that the process of positional bargaining, as has been practiced collaboratively to date by UAOSU and the University, will clarify which elements of the proposals made by UAOSU are most important to the faculty union’s membership, and will gradually lead the parties to agreement. Given the importance of the university’s inaugural faculty union contract, it is appropriate to expect that positional bargaining will not result in an immediate agreement, but the steady progress we are achieving presently.
The chart to the right details the cost estimates associated with the proposals made by UAOSU. For context, the chart also indicates the new resources that would be required to meet the requests.
The University team looks forward to continuing to work with UAOSU to establish an inaugural agreement between the parties.
Provost and Executive Vice President
Parties will continue to bargain over FY20 raise increases.
During the Nov. 26 bargaining session, the University bargaining team notified the Union that the University would not be accepting a MOU proposing a FY20 raise package that applies different standards for bargaining unit members above 0.5 FTE and those below 0.5 FTE. The University does intend to enfold employees below 0.5 FTE into the ongoing negotiations. But a core principle of OSU’s recent salary increase packages is that raises are determined by performance at the fully satisfactory level and above, reflecting the University’s commitment to rewarding and building excellence in all areas of its mission. To apply that principle to faculty appointed above 0.5 FTE, while granting an across-the-board increase to faculty appointed below 0.5 FTE, is not compatible with the University’s established approach to ensuring its excellence and distinction. Instead, the University believes that a better long-term solution will arise from deliberate negotiations to develop an appropriate salary increase package that encompasses faculty appointed below 0.5 FTE.
Oregon State University is committed to collaboratively, accountably, prudently and transparently reaching a collective bargaining agreement with United Academics of Oregon State University that:
- Supports the university’s land grant mission and values as Oregon’s statewide university;
- Supports the recruitment, retention and success of excellent faculty engaged in OSU teaching, research, and outreach and engagement;
- Takes into account the tuition burden borne by students and their families to pay increasingly more for their higher education while state financial support declines and employee benefit costs increase;
- Allows the university’s operations to remain financially sustainable;
- Aligns with university priorities, such as Strategic Plan 4.0; and
- Takes into account university responsibilities to invest in and provide safe, resilient and improved university teaching, research, and outreach and engagement facilities.
University Labor & Bargaining Team
University Bargaining Team
Heather Horn is the associate vice provost and senior director for employee and labor relations and serves as OSU's lead negotiator. Before joining Oregon on Feb. 28, 2019, she worked in labor and employee relations at the University of Illinois at both the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses.
Steph Bernell is an associate dean of the Graduate School. She has taught over 80 courses at Oregon State, primarily in the areas of health policy and health economics.
Peter Betjemann is an associate professor of English and director of the School of Writing, Literature and Film in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts. He teaches U.S. literature, specializing in the timeframe of 1789-1900.
Sherm Bloomer is the director of the Office of Budget and Fiscal Planning and a professor of geology and geophysics. He oversees the development of OSU’s Education and General Fund budget, fiscal planning and tuition rate projections. Previously, he served as dean of the College of Science and taught undergraduate and graduate students for 22 years.
Trina Young is a senior employee and labor relations officer for employee and engages in labor relations in OSU’s Office of Human Resources office. She has more than 25 years of experience in human resources and employee relations while at OSU.
Academic Labor Relations
The university’s policies and practices pertaining to academic employees are overseen by the Office of Faculty Affairs under the leadership of Senior Vice Provost Susan Capalbo in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources. Heather Horn, assistant provost for academic employee and labor relations, is responsible for contract administration to support academic employees, union representatives, supervisors, managers and administrators. Horn is the primary contact for administrative leaders, such as department heads, school directors and deans, seeking guidance on how faculty union negotiations and subsequent contract agreements may affect the management of academic employees. Horn also assists academic employees, who may have questions and concerns about employment matters.
An executive team of senior university leaders advises the president, provost, vice president for finance and administration and the university’s bargaining team as negotiations proceed.
The bargaining session focused on a new counterproposal on Compensation presented by the University bargaining team. In previous bargaining sessions, the University bargaining team shared proposals that expand the eligibility for merit raises to individuals appointed at less than 0.5 FTE, established salary floors across fixed-term job categories, and guaranteed merit raise packages on an annual basis for five years. These are significant offers with significant costs. The counterproposal presented at the bargaining session added a mechanism by which individuals appointed during any term in the prior academic year would become eligible for a merit raise upon reappointment. This inclusion addresses the situation of employees for whom there may be recurring work but only for a portion of each academic year. The counterproposal also raised the amount of the guaranteed raise packages and sets a new salary floor for all postdoctoral scholars, incoming and current, using the National Institute of Health salary schedule.
The UAOSU bargaining team characterized the counterproposal as somehow indicating that OSU did not understand the Union’s desire for “greater security” for employees. The University bargaining team rejected this characterization, indicating that multi-year assurances – of a raise package provided during each year of the contract, salary floors, and significantly broadened eligibility for annual increases – are precisely what the proposal provides. The University bargaining team explained, these offers are made under economic conditions in which revenues and costs are particularly difficult to forecast. Centrally and at the unit level, OSU is attempting to maintain competitive salaries and benefits; manage rising costs associated with PEBB, PERS and other externally mandated expenses; keep tuition increases low to support undergraduate student success; adjust to a slowdown in enrollment growth nationally and in Oregon; adapt to state support for public higher education that fails to keep up with costs; and address the serious backlog of building repairs and seismic retrofit needs. The University’s proposal on compensation balances these priorities—most of which directly benefit faculty—by offering guarantees that did not previously exist, while placing the amount of those guarantees—all of which are expressed as minimums, not across-the-board absolutes—at levels that at this time best match the University’s economic forecasts.
In December, UAOSU chose to reject the University’s offer to include bargaining unit members in the current year’s raise package offered to other non-represented University employees. The University bargaining team remains open to the inclusion of language about an AY20-21 raise in the contract, and answered questions about how the AY20-21 raise was administered at the level of the academic unit.
Discussion of the Compensation article consumed most of the session. The session closed with UAOSU presenting an article on Benefits that responded to some of the University bargaining team’s prior concerns, but the opportunity for fuller discussion was curtailed for reasons of time. The topic will be revisited when the University returns with a counterproposal at a later date.
The parties meet again in a bargaining session on March 9 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Cascades Hall.
The University bargaining team opened the session by presenting a counterproposal on Promotion and Tenure. In prior sessions, the University bargaining team has clearly indicated that promotion for fixed-term faculty members is a matter of merit in the role, with minimum years-of-service requirements in place to ensure that a sufficient body of evidence is available to assess meritorious accomplishments. Following those principles, the University bargaining team presented new language defining eligibility for promotion in fixed-term categories when both of the following conditions are met: (1) four years have passed since the initial date of hire; and (2) the faculty member has accumulated at least 3.0 FTE years in service. In response to questions from the UAOSU bargaining team, the University bargaining team clarified that the second condition means that, to be minimally eligible for promotion, a fixed-term faculty member needs to perform, over four years, the amount of work that would be performed in three years by a full-time faculty member. This mechanism allows for slight variations in FTE to not impact the date of eligibility. The University bargaining team reinforced that eligibility and accomplishment in the role, as the standard by which promotion cases are judged, are not the same.
Further discussion of the counterproposal focused on how a bargaining unit member initiates a request for promotional consideration. The University bargaining team clarified that, in its counterproposal, the point of initiation lies in a conversation with a unit head even as the final decision to proceed, or not, lies with the bargaining unit member.
Next, the UAOSU bargaining team presented a counterproposal on Position Descriptions. The Parties are very close to agreeing on language for the Position Description article, with the exception of one section in which UAOSU seeks to require all position descriptions to include some allocation of FTE to service and guarantee access for all bargaining unit members to shared governance. During the conversation, it became apparent that the definition of service between the Union and the University varies greatly. For instance, the UAOSU bargaining team used the example of writing letters of recommendation for students as a form of service. While the University does not contest the importance of this activity, this is not how OSU would define service and the University bargaining instead responded that OSU would consider writing a letter of recommendation an element of teaching and mentoring. In addition, the University bargaining team shared that the University is are seeking to retain a unit’s discretion when determining the most appropriate stakeholders to include in specific unit-wide decisions.
To conclude the bargaining session, the UAOSU team presented a counterproposal on Faculty Governance. This proposal defines the role of Faculty Senate. The University bargaining team has made clear that OSU will not place specific directives into the collective bargaining agreement about the Faculty Senate, which is not represented by UAOSU nor controlled by the University and is not a signatory to this agreement. In addition, UAOSU’s Faculty Governance proposal seeks to require units to include all bargaining unit members in all shared governance decisions and includes a section meant to incorporate all policies, standards and the Faculty Handbook into the collective bargaining agreement. The University bargaining team made clear that OSU is not willing to agree to language that would capture all policies and/or guidelines in the collective bargaining agreement, as this would have the effect of limiting the important role that OSU’s shared governance partners currently have in review and update of these matters.
The parties meet again in a bargaining session on Feb. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center.
At the Feb. 18 bargaining session, the UAOSU bargaining team presented five counterproposals and the University bargaining team presented three. All of these proposals have already been exchanged at least once, and most of them have been exchanged many times. Throughout the session, however, the UAOSU bargaining team indicated that they felt the University bargaining team was not “engaging” with the proposals, if no immediate follow-up questions were asked. The UAOSU bargaining team’s comments also revealed that they seem to view “engagement” as the University returning with a counterproposal on every element of the language that UAOSU has put forth.
As the University bargaining team has stressed before, and amplified at this session, the range and granularity of the proposals sought by UAOSU are significant in terms of their economic costs and potential impact to the existing OSU practices. The University bargaining team said it will not be returning with compromise language on every inclusion that the Union seeks because to do so would not reflect an institutionally responsible approach to considering the collective cost of all Union requests. The University has consistently stressed that the process of positional bargaining must sort out the priorities. Using that approach, the University has agreed to a variety of economically significant inclusions, including new promotional paths for non-tenure-track faculty; salary floors in fixed-term job categories; and the expansion of eligibility for salary increases to bargaining unit members less than 0.5 FTE. At the Feb 18 bargaining session, the University bargaining team also offered a 1.5 FTE pool of annual release time paid for a bargaining unit member to perform union-related work for the first three years of the contract, as well as an additional 1.0 FTE paid for union-related work by the University in the two terms immediately prior to the next collective bargaining phase.
Meanwhile, many other open proposals contain language with large economic impact – on issues ranging from raises to leaves – which the University bargaining team and the UAOSU bargaining team are actively passing back and forth
The proposals passed to the University by UAOSU included Family and Medical Leave, Leaves, Sabbatical Leave, Appointment and Reappointment, and Workload. Conversation on these articles provided a more nuanced exchange on a number of topics than the parties have discussed before. These include, for instance, the shared responsibility of both bargaining teams to write contract language compatible with Oregon House Bill 2005, which established state law related to paid family leave. Additionally, the parties discussed how a sick leave transfer program might operate; how qualifying parameters might be defined for the purposes of ensuring the maintenance of health insurance when bargaining unit members take certain kinds of research fellowships; and how fixed-term bargaining unit members will be reappointed to multi-year contracts once they have achieved promotion. The University bargaining team reaffirmed, in response to UAOSU queries, that the last University proposal on this topic was intended to extend multi-year contracts upon each contract renewal, not just upon the initial promotion, unless there is an extenuating circumstance.
The proposals shared by the University bargaining team included Management Rights, Union Rights, and Visa language to be included in the Appointment, Reappointment, Review and Promotion article. These articles offered the pool of University-paid release time for union work, as described above, and proposed that the Union could purchase the equivalent of up to two additional 12-month full-time positions by reimbursing the University for the salary and benefits of the individual bargaining unit members released from their academic duties. The University bargaining team again indicated that it does not intend to guarantee the entire range of “fringe benefits” – meaning perks of employment rather than those items normally understood as components of an employment benefits package – as requested by UAOSU. The University bargaining team has multiple reservations about these requests, including that in some cases, the Union’s proposal does not represent the providers of those perks (which include ASOSU and the OSU Beaver Store), and does not take into account the expense of these proposals.
The parties meet again in a bargaining session on Feb. 24 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center.
UAOSU opened the Feb. 13 bargaining session by presenting a counterproposal on Union Rights. This counterproposal continues to ask the University to fund the equivalent of two full-time positions of release time for bargaining unit members to pursue Union-related work, plus an additional 1.0 FTE position in the two terms prior to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. The University’s last offer on this subject offered to split the costs of release time taken by UAOSU bargaining members. Sharing the costs equally, up to a maximum of 2.0 FTE, ensures that both the Union and University remain stakeholders in deciding the appropriate amount of release time to be devoted to Union work. For the University to agree to cover the entirety of the requested FTE, even before the amount of work is known – and in the absence of some level of investment by UAOSU – does not advance the principle towards which the parties have agreed they are working: the evolution of a long-term relationship in which OSU and UAOSU work together to manage the implementation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Further discussion centered on how work for the Union should figure within the service profiles of bargaining unit members. The UAOSU counterproposal seeks to allow units to include service to the Union in annual review, promotion and tenure decisions. In response to queries from the University bargaining team, UAOSU clarified that the proposal is not meant to imply that service for United Academics should be performed in lieu of regular service assignments as made by individual academic units. The UAOSU bargaining team indicated that the proposal refers only to how service is assessed, not assigned. However, the University bargaining team remains concerned that the ability to assess services performed to a non-academic, largely self-governing entity is neither feasible in all scenarios, nor advisable.
The UAOSU proposal also extends the information that the University would be required to provide to the Union on a monthly basis. Specifically, UAOSU has added the following items to the list for bargaining unit members: home phone number; cellular phone number; work email address; personal email address; and home or personal mailing address.
UAOSU then presented a counterproposal on Management Rights. The University bargaining team understood the changes and did not have follow-up questions.
The University bargaining team closed by presenting a counterproposal on Benefits. The UAOSU-represented bargaining unit includes individuals in a wide variety of employment categories, including tenure-line faculty, clinical and extension faculty, instructors, research assistants, postdoctoral fellows, and postdoctoral scholars. The University’s proposal seeks to maintain existing practices for all the represented employee populations, which the University bargaining team sees as a strong protection in a particularly unstable economic context. The University bargaining team also confirmed its understanding that UAOSU, in particular, would like to prioritize dependent care coverage for postdoctoral fellows. Departing from the normal practice in which proposals are exchanged back and forth, the University bargaining team indicated that it would return with an update to its own counterproposal at a later bargaining session, to more fully explore the feasibility of these requests.
The parties meet again in a bargaining session on Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon in the LaSells Stewart Center.
A large number of counterproposals were exchanged at the Jan. 27 bargaining session.
UAOSU opened with Retrenchment, which seeks to define a particular order for staffing reductions in the event that academic units are eliminated, reorganized, or reduced in size. The article also seeks to mandate that bargaining unit members be reinstated, in reverse order, to new positions at the University if they meet the minimum qualifications for positions in units other than the one in which they were initially hired. While such systems exist for other employee groups, the University bargaining team stated its belief that academic knowledge is highly specialized and granular and, therefore, makes a retrenchment system, as proposed by the union, challenging. As well, bargaining unit members do very different types of work in sub-disciplinary fields.
The University bargaining team said that the university’s mission of impact and relevance would not be served well by a reorganization system wherein a unit could, for instance, be forced to eliminate a position associated with a cutting-edge research area. Similarly, requiring that an academic unit would have to hire a minimally qualified individual, rather than hiring to serve more granular needs, belies the orientation of an R1 institution to highly specialized research groups, endeavors and advanced knowledge.
UAOSU’s proposal on Fringe Benefits draws together a wide variety of requests. Some of those (access to the ASOSU child-care service, for instance) involve entities the University bargaining team does not control. Just as the University bargaining team has refused to make agreements that would dictate practice in areas of Faculty Senate’s authority, the University bargaining team said the Collective Bargaining Agreement cannot require actions by ASOSU, the OSU Beaver Store, or other autonomous organizations. Other requests in the proposal have associated costs and will continue to be evaluated by the University in the context of the unfolding negotiations on economic matters.
Intellectual Property, as presented by UAOSU, occasioned the most discussion of the day. The UAOSU bargaining team desires to ensure that particular faculty members can “own” particular courses, with exclusive rights to teach them. While good discussion centered on certain digital materials created for individual Ecampus classes, the University bargaining team articulated OSU’s position that academic curriculum is a collective rather than an individual endeavor; it should continue to be managed, updated, staffed, and delivered by units and disciplines – rather than faculty members acting as individual contractors – and be provided in ways that best support student learning.
UAOSU also presented proposals on Professional Development and Workload. The University bargaining team expressed similar reservations about elements of these two proposals that attempt to standardize, across the University, such matters as the availability of professional development funds or the expectation that pre-tenure faculty would receive two course releases prior to their fourth year of service. These proposals, even while recognizing faculty input in decisions at the unit level, do not take into account varying disciplinary needs and resources of the units themselves. The University bargaining team offered, as one example, that specifying two pre-tenure course releases would differentially impact colleges with lower teaching loads over those colleges with higher teaching loads.
The University bargaining team presented a counterproposal on Leaves that adds new language specifying that bargaining unit members are typically not required to work in-person between Christmas and New Year’s Day unless their work sustains critical operations and is consistent with the duties of their position description.
The University bargaining team continues to assert that sabbatical leave, as a research-specific accommodation, should remain associated with tenured positions at 0.5 FTE and greater. The University bargaining team also reinforced that OSU considers the current salary benefits associated with a sabbatical to represent a financially sustainable level in light of rising University costs driven by external forces, and in light of the other economically impactful agreements and requests that have been made by UAOSU in the course of collective bargaining.
The University bargaining team also presented a Letter of Agreement on Sick Leave Transfer that would create a committee, made up of OSU and UAOSU representatives, to explore how the University might implement a system for employees, if they chose, to transfer accumulated sick leave to other employees. Additionally, the University bargaining team presented a Letter of Agreement on Prestigious Fellowships that would create a committee, made up of OSU and UAOSU representatives, to consider how health insurance benefits might be continued for bargaining unit members who go on leave from their OSU positions in order to hold certain externally funded fellowships.
The University bargaining team closed with a counterproposal on Benefits. The article guarantees that OSU will continue to pay an employee’s share of required contributions to the Individual Account Program that is a component of PERS retirement plans (currently 6%).
The parties meet again in a bargaining session on Feb. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center.
The bargaining session opened with University counterproposals on Management Rights and Union Rights. The University bargaining team presented the content of the two articles together as a way of recognizing the movement made by each party, over the course of bargaining, on this set of complementary articles. Discussion centered on a small number of remaining issues, including whether and how conducting Union work fit in the expectations for paid University service associated with the position descriptions of many bargaining unit members. The UAOSU bargaining team clarified, in response to concerns previously raised by the University bargaining team, that they did not see labor performed for the Union as replacing normal committee assignments or otherwise supplanting service work currently performed for the University.
The University bargaining team also responded to questions from UAOSU, particularly to clarify that defining management rights does not make faculty input irrelevant. University bargaining team members said that on many issues, the individual and collective expertise of the faculty (through the Faculty Senate) represents the unique power of an academic environment. Furthermore, the University bargaining team said that although the University reserves the right it currently has to determine the materials used by bargaining unit members, it has no intention to supplant normal curriculum discussion in academic units or academic discussions about research methodologies. Rather, it is seeking to recognize that some shared materials – the University’s primary Learning Management System software, for instance – must be standardized across the institution to ensure affordability and consistency for students and the institution, as well as to enable OSU to provide technical support to teaching faculty.
The parties then signed a Tentative Agreement on a side letter creating a process and timeline by which position descriptions of all bargaining unit members will be updated. The parties are also close to an agreement governing the content of those position descriptions. Discussion of UAOSU’s counterproposal on this subject, Position Descriptions, centered on the Union’s request that position descriptions for all bargaining unit members allocate FTE for service. While recognizing the goal of promoting shared governance, the University bargaining team voiced its concerns that certain bargaining unit members, particularly those on partial appointments, would not necessarily welcome an increase in their duties requiring them to serve on University committees or to perform service in other roles. Service assignments are best left to the needs and circumstances of individual academic units.
The session closed with the UAOSU bargaining team presenting a counterproposal on Appointment and Reappointment. The Union re-proposed a number of elements included in prior versions of the article, including a defined list of reasons representing the only circumstances under which a bargaining unit member could be non-renewed. The list includes the three reasons that drive non-renewals under the vast majority of circumstances: sustained poor performance by an employee, lack of university or department financial resources, or curricular needs. The University bargaining team has repeatedly stated that, very rarely, situations arise in which OSU must respond quickly to non-renew an employee for other reasons. Such situations include those where the employee presents an imminent threat to students, other OSU employees or facilities. The University’s ability to act in these rare cases is an important element of its charge to keep the campus and its users safe. The University bargaining team needs flexibility in rare situations and is not willing to agree to a short and defined list of exclusively academic and budgetary reasons for non-renewal.
The parties meet again in a bargaining session on Jan. 27 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center.
The Jan. 15 bargaining session opened with the Union bargaining team presenting a counterproposal on Compensation. The counterproposal accepts the substance of the University’s most recent salary increase offer for FY20, which creates a salary pool equivalent to 3% of the combined salaries of bargaining unit members and establishes new eligibility for individuals at all FTE levels (including those individuals below 0.5 FTE who had generally not been included in prior salary increase programs). That salary pool would be distributed in individual increases ranging from 1.8% for satisfactory performance to 6% for the highest levels of performance.
The bulk of the discussion at the bargaining session centered on philosophical differences related to salary increase packages for future fiscal years. The Union bargaining team’s counterproposal again attempts to designate separate University-level funding pools for raises tied to merit, across-the-board, and equity purposes. The University bargaining team stressed its points of opposition: (1) units around the campus have various histories and therefore various needs; (2) mandating the size of several different salary pools, and including a fixed across-the-board distribution, decreases the available amount that can be distributed to reward employee performance at fully satisfactory levels and above. While the number of employees with unsatisfactory annual performance at OSU is small, the University bargaining team stated that a limited resource pool should be directed to the majority of bargaining unit members: those who have been successful in their roles. The University bargaining team expressed its belief that the raise packages offered annually for the past eight years – which have offered the managers of units flexibility in given years to address merit, compression, and/or equity – represent a more nuanced path that, by rewarding performance -- as well as resolving equity issues at the points where they exist -- promotes excellence in research and teaching that is a cornerstone of a leading land grant university.
The total cost of the separate pools proposed by the Union team amounts to more than $10 million annually by FY22 (more than a 6% annual increase), in addition to more than $6 million for a one-time equity pool in FY22. The Union bargaining team’s next proposal, Research Support, similarly attempts to designate high levels of annual funding for several individual purposes. The University bargaining team shared its costing estimates. Extending a pool of bridge funding to bargaining unit members after their grants have ended would cost $2.1 million annually. Decreasing by 50%, the amount of GTA tuition charged to grants, would cost $3.5 million annually. Mandating that 5% of all F&A recovery return to Principal Investigators could cost up to an additional $3.5 million annually. The Union bargaining team represented the last two of these proposals as cost-neutral because they see them as redistributing money rather than creating new expenses. But revenue from GTA tuition charged to grants and the sum of F&A recovery currently underwrite essential and strategic functions that need to be continued. The University bargaining team stressed how the UAOSU approach to economic proposals is, in fact, additive rather than zero-sum. At a time while state funding has decreased and certain costs beyond OSU’s control, including PERS and PEBB benefits, have risen -- and in the context of the University attempting to keep tuition affordable -- the combined costs of the salary and research proposals would be more than an additional $20M every year by FY23 and are prohibitive for the University.
The University bargaining team closed by presenting a counterproposal on Appointment, Reappointment, Review, and Promotion. The article establishes minimum notification periods for renewal or non-renewal of fixed-term faculty; defines how position descriptions will be generated, maintained, and updated; creates new guidelines for annual reviews as requested by UASOU; and represents how bargaining unit members will be kept informed about their progress toward promotion and tenure expectations. As in prior bargaining sessions, the University bargaining team indicated its strong belief that the entire set of operational practices related to tenure and promotion review – as those practices have been shaped and modified by the Faculty Senate – should not be placed in the Agreement. The effect would be to take a major function out of the hands of the Senate, given that future adaptations and evolutions would be subject not to discussion through the Senate, but to collective bargaining between UAOSU and the University.
The parties meet again in a bargaining session on Jan. 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center.
The parties opened the session by signing a tentative agreement on Academic Freedom, an article that has been negotiated for several months. The final text was based on the University’s counterproposal of Dec. 4.
The remainder of the session involved the University bargaining team’s counterproposal on Compensation.
Recall that the University had proposed implementing a salary increase program for FY20, consistent with that agreed to by the Union for FY19, and meantime to continue bargaining for FY21 and beyond. The Union declined that proposal and the two parties began bargaining for FY20 forward.
Five elements of the article were discussed at length over the three-hour session:
- Eligibility for salary increase packages. The University bargaining team conveyed the University’s belief in the importance and value of ensuring part-time employees are compensated appropriately and considered for raises. Indeed, it is the case that some OSU employees appointed at less than 0.5 FTE have received salary increases over time through the reappointment process. Others have not.
The University bargaining team proposed a system for including bargaining unit members working at less than 0.5 FTE formally in future raise programs. Some individuals in this employee population work intermittently rather than continuously (term after term). An instructor, for example, might be employed one term per year or as needed to address emergent curricular needs. Among the challenges of implementing a general raise program for such employees are that their salaries are not necessarily active at the time a unit-level pool is established and their performance must be evaluated within a systematic process and may occur when the individual is not actively employed. The University bargaining team offered a solution for enfolding these and other employees working less than 0.5 FTE into unit-level salary pools and merit assessment, with administration of the increase triggered at the time of the reappointment of the employee. The Union bargaining team sought clarification on how many terms, and over what period of time, an employee would need to work to become eligible. The University team clarified its intention to maintain the current practice wherein eligibility is determined by employment in the prior academic year.
- Salary increase packages for FY20 through FY24. The University bargaining team presented a proposal for FY20 that creates a 3.0% merit pool for bargaining unit members, including those working at less than 0.5 FTE. The University bargaining team stressed that this proposal represents a substantial additional financial commitment by the University since funds initially budgeted for a 3.0% pool in FY20 would be expanded to a wider population. For FY21 through FY24, the proposal includes bargaining unit members in whatever campus-wide salary increase program may be announced, while guaranteeing UAOSU members for a minimum 1.0% merit pool annually in the event that no campus-wide raise program is implemented. In that case, UAOSU members would receive increases even if the remainder of the university’s unclassified employees did not.
- Equity Increases. UAOSU has pressed for the creation of a campus-wide equity pool. The University bargaining team continues to stress that equity is most effectively addressed at the college- and unit- levels and not within a collective bargaining agreement. The University bargaining teams has shared that local employment histories, hiring practices and patterns unique to different academic disciplines inform the best approach to making substantial and sustained progress in this essential area. The Union bargaining team queried the University team about whether its emphasis on merit in the counterproposal was meant to preclude OSU from devoting resources to correcting equity issues. The University bargaining team responded that it had no intention to preclude increase pools from being used to address equity matters, in keeping with the University’s recent practices and commitments.
- Salary Minimums. The University’s proposal raises salary floors across multiple employment categories. The Union bargaining team asked why the section indicating that individual promotions carry 10% increases includes the statement “unless otherwise noted in this Agreement.” This note appears because the contract as a whole has not been completed, and offers both parties flexibility as negotiations proceed. The University bargaining team affirmed that there is no intention to carve any currently defined population out of the promotional structure.
- Professional Development. The University’s proposal distinguishes professional development funds administered or allocated by units from those earned by faculty performing such work as Ecampus development, Honors College teaching, or other activities. In the former category, the University bargaining team expressed its interest in ensuring that units can distribute professional development funds in the most strategic ways for that particular unit. Considerations could include the purpose of funds (research, teaching, outreach, diversity-oriented activities) or the classification, category, or rank of the eligible populations. A unit could, for instance, decide to dedicate limited resources toward conference travel for assistant professors. The University’s proposal includes the statement that policies in these areas would be determined in consultation with faculty in that unit. The Union bargaining team sought clarification on a range of issues, including how reimbursements are processed; what kind of University-level policies guide the distribution and use of funds at the individual level; and how professional development funding interacts with promotional requirements. As the session was coming to a close, the parties agreed to have fuller conversation on these issues at a later session.
The Parties will resume bargaining in 2020 and are working to schedule the next bargaining session.
Discussion of the first counterproposal presented by UAOSU, Leaves, initially focused on sick leave. Current university policy affords sick leave advances to OSU employees – the ability to use sick leave before it is earned – to cover illness or injury under certain conditions. The UAOSU counterproposal reiterates most of that policy, while adding a section allowing bargaining unit members to transfer up to 120 hours of accrued sick leave to another bargaining unit member, who may have exhausted their own sick leave benefits. The University bargaining team sought clarification on how sick leave advances provided by OSU and the proposed sick leave transfer would interact with one another.
UAOSU also aims to establish that every task performed by a bargaining unit member on the days between Christmas and New Year’s – or in the summer for nine-month employees – would be compensated by additional vacation time or by overload pay. The University recognizes that UAOSU members, however, hold positions in which occasional duties -- such as overseeing thesis defenses or interviewing candidates for academic positions -- cannot always be scheduled within an academic term. The University bargaining team shared with UAOSU the University’s point of view that to consider every appearance of an employee during these times as a marginal overload is in contrast with the professional flexibility that defines faculty work in the academy the rest of the year.
The University bargaining team further stressed the potential negative impact of this proposal on students, focusing in particular on the frequent need of graduate students to defend their thesis prior to the start of a term to avoid paying tuition for that term. To be sure, students requesting summer defenses must coordinate those well ahead of time, and a nine-month faculty member may not necessarily be available at any given time. But the expectation that the academic unit would pay a fractional overload to the faculty member when they are available – even at their convenience and agreement – would be a disincentive for academic units to schedule defenses to occur at times that may benefit the student.
In a counterproposal on Sabbatical Leave, UAOSU continues to propose that sabbatical benefits be extended to non-tenure-track faculty. This proposal places potential financial burden on principal investigators – under whose grants, faculty research assistants and other non-tenure-track individuals may be employed. The bargaining team shared with the UAOSU bargaining team that this proposal will create substantial financial burden for the University, which would be responsible for covering sabbatical leaves for teaching and other fixed-term faculty. The University bargaining team continues to hold that sabbaticals are intended to provide a research accommodation tied to unique performance expectations, in scholarship, of tenured faculty members.
UAOSU presented a final counterproposal on Family and Medical Leave, about which discussion was brief.
The University closed by presenting a counterproposal on Academic Rank and Classification which creates a new promotional track for instructors in the Physical Activity Courses category, adding to a previous offer to create promotional tracks for instructors in the English as a Second Language and Academic Learning Services categories. The UAOSU bargaining team has repeatedly pressed for a section in this article prohibiting research and teaching from being assigned to non-bargaining unit members. The Union has shared its concern that the University could choose to assign a large percentage of teaching to professional faculty after approval of the collective bargaining agreement with UAOSU. The University bargaining team shared that there is no intention of taking such a step. But professional faculty serve students by assisting in research or teaching occasional classes or seminars; an advisor, for instance, might develop and offer a class on career preparation within a given discipline. The University bargaining team has repeatedly responded that no one employee group can assert its sole ownership of an entire, broadly construed category of labor.
The parties bargain again on Dec. 17, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center.
The University bargaining team opened by presenting a counterproposal on Academic Freedom. This iteration of the article removes language exempting academic freedom from grievance under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a change requested by the Union, and continues to exclude specific procedures related to grade changes. The University views the Academic Freedom article as broad in its reach and applicability, establishing a shared definition of a core principle of the University, and more specific policies and procedures are developed with shared governance by the Faculty Senate.
Discussion then turned to a number of articles on Promotion and Tenure presented by the Union. The Union’s proposed articles excerpt language from OSU’s “Promotion and Tenure Guidelines” at a highly granular level. OSU’s Promotion and Tenure guidelines were largely developed by the Faculty Senate and its standing committee on Promotion and Tenure. They have been updated, most recently in 2010, 2013, and 2015, via a representative process that included committee work, dialogue on the floor of the Senate, and ratification by both the Senate and the University president. They will evolve and be refined over time through the same inclusive and shared governance process. Including OSU’s Promotion and Tenure procedures in the Collective Bargaining Agreement shifts control over the procedures from the Faculty Senate to UAOSU. If placed in the agreement, the procedures could only be modified through collective bargaining between UAOSU and the University. The University strongly objects to this proposed elimination of the Faculty Senate’s role.
At the bargaining table, the Union bargaining team indicated that it sees itself as a better and more effective agent for negotiating issues, like Promotion and Tenure, which affect faculty. Yet the University believes that the Faculty Senate is a body elected by peers proportionally across all units in the University, and it also includes faculty ineligible for membership in the Union, such as principal investigators who supervise postdocs, research associates and faculty research assistants. Promotion and tenure in higher education differs from promotion in many other workplaces because the voice of peers drives the evaluation, in the form of letters solicited from external reviewers and from unit- and college-level faculty committees. Given that, it is the University’s position that the procedures governing promotion and tenure should remain in the hands of the broadly representative and widely inclusive faculty body made up by the Faculty Senate.
The parties bargain again on Dec. 11, from 11 to 3 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center.
The bargaining session on Nov. 26 represented the third consecutive meeting at which the parties signed a tentative agreement. Health, Safety, and Facilities is the final agreed-upon title of an article that resolves certain procedural steps related to workspace reassignments, emergent safety conditions, and building maintenance.
The University bargaining team notified the Union that the University would not be accepting a proposed MOU organizing a FY20 raise package that applies different standards for bargaining unit members above 0.5 FTE and those below 0.5 FTE. The University does intend to enfold employees below 0.5 FTE into the ongoing negotiations. But a core principle of OSU’s recent salary increase package is that raises are determined by performance at the fully satisfactory level and above, reflecting the University’s commitment to rewarding and building excellence in all areas of its mission. To apply that principle to bargaining unit members appointed above 0.5 FTE while granting an across-the-board increase to bargaining unit members appointed below 0.5 FTE is not compatible with the University’s established approach to ensuring its excellence and distinction. Instead, the University believes that deliberate negotiations to develop an appropriate salary increase package that encompasses faculty appointed below 0.5 FTE will produce a better long-term solution.
The parties then discussed a new UAOSU counterproposal on Transportation and Parking. Some of the exchange centered on conditions that the University bargaining team believes to be discretionary at the level of the individual academic unit or research lab. For instance, UAOSU wishes the University to provide parking permits for all field vehicles, including those already housed at the motor pool and those purchased on grants. The university’s position is that the marginal increased cost for parking permits should be subject to an assessment of needs and budgetary decisions made by actual users, rather than applied across all University-owned vehicles, especially when grants or unit-level resources funded the original purchase and ongoing maintenance of a vehicle.
Similarly, in a Union Rights counterproposal, UAOSU has proposed using University resources to pay for bargaining unit members' time to engage in UAOSU work by broadening the “service” category of faculty position descriptions to include work on behalf of UAOSU. UAOSU has also proposed that the University would pay the cost of releasing an additional 2.0 FTE pool of faculty from other duties, an expense that would be covered almost entirely with state and tuition dollars; this 2.0 FTE pool would be supplemented by an additional 2.0 FTE pool, also paid with state and tuition funds, in the two terms prior to collective bargaining When work for the Union involves release from other duties, it cannot simultaneously be counted as fulfilling those duties in the “service” category. Individual programs and units rely on faculty to perform essential service functions related to the University’s academic mission (and for which state and tuition funds are intended), and require the ability to make discretionary assignments to that end – especially in a context where Union work already entails release from other labor. But work for the Union has already been accommodated by the University’s proposal that UAOSU could purchase the equivalent of 2.0 FTE of release time – partitionable across many individuals – for the purpose of faculty members who chose to perform Union work.
The parties also discussed a new UAOSU counterproposal on Management Rights. While recognizing the University’s obligations to manage OSU’s budget, buildings, and the nature of the labor required to fulfill the University’s mission, the counterproposal also included a concept that the University bargaining team has already rejected. UAOSU seeks to prohibit the modification of all current University practices and policies – whether or not they are referenced in the agreement – for the life of the contract. The University bargaining team, however, will not negotiate away the University’s current shared governance structures, which do modify practices and policies from time to time. The University bargaining team strongly believes that this inaugural contract should not supplant the institution’s ability to adapt, improve and evolve.
The parties bargain again on Dec. 4, from noon to 3 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center.
The 27th bargaining session opened with the University bargaining team presenting a counterproposal on the Preamble to the contract agreement. After a short discussion about minor matters of word choice, the conversation turned to the new UAOSU counterproposals described below. By the end of the session, however, the Union bargaining team returned with a slightly edited version of the Preamble, which was accepted by the University bargaining team as the 13th tentative agreement of this inaugural bargaining process.
UASOU’s first counterproposal of the day returned consideration of the Health and Safety article. The counterproposal edited or struck certain language on which the parties had disagreed in prior sessions, and the conversation at the table continued to refine additional language relating to issues on which the parties largely agree in principle. An important instance involves imminently dangerous work. Both UAOSU and the University recognize the fact that some job duties may significantly compromise life or safety under certain emerging conditions, and that no one wishes employees to continue performing those duties in such cases. The ongoing conversation involved the clearest way to express the protocols associated with such situations. The UAOSU and University bargaining teams also discussed how to address faculty work space when academic programs relocate from one location to another, such as when a curricular program evolves to meet student demand or a research lab moves to a new field site.
The second counterproposal presented by UAOSU returned consideration of the Academic Classification and Rank article. UAOSU wishes to include an instructor category within the tenure-track classification, citing the presence at OSU of a very small number of tenured instructors promoted within a prior classification system. The University bargaining team asserts that these individuals should be recognized elsewhere in the agreement, as the inclusion of tenure-track instructors at this point in the collective bargaining agreement sends the message that such a classification remains available for use with new positions, which is not the case. The parties conducted additional discussion on how to define the terms of postdoctoral positions and how to manage situations in which fixed-term bargaining unit members may be considered for tenure-track positions. UAOSU is seeking to categorically prohibit such internal reclassifications. Citing research on the benefits of dual-career hiring for increasing institutional diversity, the University bargaining team pointed out that such dual-career accommodations occasionally involve transitioning a fixed-term position to a tenure-line one, and that to prohibit such a practice will have a negative impact on the recruitment and retention of a more diverse faculty.
The parties bargain again on Nov. 26, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center.
The Nov. 13 bargaining session opened with UAOSU accepting a counterproposal on the Dues Deduction article, originally presented by the University bargaining team more than a month ago. This marked the 12th Tentative Agreement reached by the parties.
Negotiation at the table then turned back to an article last discussed in mid-September, Union Rights, on which the University bargaining team presented a new counterproposal. The counterproposal accepts language sought by UAOSU allowing the Union to buy out the equivalent of two full-time positions – partitionable amongst multiple individuals – for faculty representatives of UAOSU to pursue union work. To ensure OSU’s ability to meet its curricular responsibilities, the University bargaining team proposed additional new language stipulating that no more than two individuals from any one academic unit could be released for union work at any one time. The University bargaining team expressed continued reservations about the original UAOSU proposal, which would provide three permanent full-time positions to work on behalf of the Union – as well as two additional positions prior to future collective bargaining phases – at the expense of Oregon State University.
The parties also discussed Leaves, a new counterproposal by the University bargaining team that accepts, with minor modifications, UAOSU language related to sick leaves, vacation leaves, leaves for civic duties and personal leaves without pay. Much of the discussion on this article related to a UAOSU proposal to expand paid sabbatical leave from tenure-track research faculty to non-tenured instructional faculty who had achieved promotion. The costs of that proposal are substantial, but the University bargaining team also expressed its definitional understanding of sabbatical leave as a unique accommodation related to the nature of scholarly and research work – which often requires substantial periods of immersion in remote study locations – rather than as a matter of professional development in instructional roles.
The second half of the session focused on compensation. UAOSU presented a Memorandum of Understanding that sought to re-engage the University in a discussion about including current bargaining unit members in the FY20 campus salary program. This offer had been made by the University and was rejected by the Union in early November. UAOSU posed back the same terms that the University had offered for faculty members on .50 FTE appointments or greater, which represents over 85% of the total represented population. UAOSU’s MOU also sought to provide an additional 3% across-the-board increase to those faculty who hold less than a .50 FTE appointment. Members of the University bargaining team shared their concern with this proposal over what could be interpreted as an inequitable manner in which the University would be providing increases, as guided by the University’s strong position that our focus should remain on rewarding our faculty for meritorious performance. While the University does look forward to identifying a system to reward all meritorious faculty, regardless of FTE level, there needs to be thoughtful discussion about how the bargaining parties agree to a sustainable and effective salary compensation program for all employees.
The UAOSU then presented a counterproposal on Compensation, which largely restored UAOSU’s prior proposal to add additional annual cost-of-living raises, additional annual merit raises, additional annual equity raises, and higher salary floors to those already offered by the University bargaining team the last time this article was exchanged. In keeping with its ongoing commitment to review all proposals with large economic impact in relation to one another, the University bargaining team indicated that it would continue to consider the details within the larger context of the financial impacts created by the other Union proposals still on the table.
The session closed with UAOSU providing new counterproposals on Promotion and Tenure that the parties did not have time to discuss.
The parties bargain will meet to bargain again in LaSells Stewart Center on Nov. 18.
The first half of the Oct. 28 bargaining session focused on new non-economic counterproposals presented by UAOSU, including Notice of Appointment, Position Descriptions and Annual Review.
The second half of the session consisted of discussion of the UAOSU economic proposals, including Promotion in the Fixed-Term and Research Categories, Public Employee Benefits, Retirement Benefits and Postdoctoral Scholar and Fellow Health Plan. These articles strongly interact with one another in terms of their collective economic impact on Oregon State University. As the University bargaining team characterized that the aggregate cost of UAOSU’s economic proposals total more than $39 million annually beyond the existing costs associate with the faculty employee group, the UAOSU bargaining team initially indicated its awareness that the collective cost represented “at least” that sum. Shortly thereafter, they went on to challenge the University’s ability to accurately evaluate the cost of the proposals.
The University bargaining team stands ready to continue to engage with UAOSU in the spirit of collaborative exchange, and indeed advanced two significant changes to current practice that, through dialogue at prior sessions, emerged as particularly valuable to the union membership: (1) in the Classification and Rank counterproposal presented by the University bargaining team, the creation of a promotional path (Instructor, Senior Instructor I, and Senior Instructor II) for ESL instructors teaching at INTO OSU; (2) in the Compensation article, the creation of salary floors across all job classifications and ranks, which would represent an immediate increase of over $100,000 provided by the University.
The next bargaining session is set for Nov. 8.
The Parties met on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, for their 23rd bargaining session.
The University’s bargaining team presented a counterproposal to the Dues Deduction article. This article sets forth the agreement between the University and UAOSU defining the parameters by which the University will withhold dues from an employee’s payroll once the employee has provided their consent. Members of the UAOSU bargaining team stated their appreciation for the counterproposal and affirmed their plan to provide a response to this article at an upcoming bargaining session.
UAOSU’s bargaining team presented a counterproposal to the Academic Freedom article. The counterproposal accepted language previously proposed by the University confirming an agreement to support the rights of bargaining unit members in the exercise of their academic freedoms. While the Parties have reached a great deal of agreement in this article, UAOSU continues to seek specific process-related steps that define how grade reviews should be handled. The University bargaining team continues to believe that including granular policy language on a single issue is misplaced within an article that addresses core principles of the academy. The final piece that continues to be discussed involves how a grievance related to this article should be contested. The University bargaining team asserts that the context of this labor agreement – which is facilitated by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and American Association of University Professors (AAUP) – makes it an inappropriate vehicle for disagreements that are best adjudicated by a local group of faculty peers at Oregon State University. The University’s bargaining team holds that academic freedom matters have been addressed effectively over the course of OSU’s history through existing processes that place OSU’s faculty and the Faculty Senate—not administrators or union representatives--at the center of adjudications on such core principles.
The Parties closed the session early and established the proposed agenda for the next bargaining session, which is set for Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, from 9 a.m.to 1 p.m.
The Parties bargained at the OSU-Cascades campus. Given the length of the session and that the parties have moved to consideration of new articles, including those with economic impact, this summary has been divided into two sections. The first deals with details of articles that have a history of negotiation between the parties. The second deals with subjects that are now entering the active phase.
1. Continued Conversation on Open Issues
The University bargaining team opened with a counterproposal on Academic Freedom, confirming the ability of bargaining unit members to speak freely on matters of University governance. UAOSU bargaining team members expressed their continued frustration that the University bargaining team had deleted inclusion of criteria that would allow a unit head to modify a student grade. The University bargaining team responded as previously, that the academic freedom article establishes a shared understanding of a core principle in the academy, applicable across many domains. The University bargaining team shared that the University does not see the academic freedom article as a policy document, which is also the reason that the University’s proposal holds that academic freedom should not be grievable through processes belonging to labor relations. Instead, the University bargaining team has expressed the University’s desire for matters of academic freedom to be adjudicated within the University and addressed by the faculty’s body of peers.
Next, the University bargaining team presented a package proposal, including new language within the Grievance and Arbitration articles. Paralleling the University bargaining team’s position on academic freedom, the Grievance article retained language asserting that matters of academic judgement should not be grievable under the collective bargaining agreement, but also proposed a new definition of academic judgement for clarity. In addition, the University maintained the position that only those rules, procedures and standards negotiated by the two Parties to the agreement should be grievable under it. Collective bargaining allows the University and UAOSU the opportunity to consider each word/matter proposed by the other party. The University bargaining team has shared that the University believes a matter should only be grievable under the agreement when a shared understanding has been established though the highly formalized process that results in the agreement.
The final new piece of the Grievance article involved agreement by the University’s bargaining team with UAOSU’s request to have an arbitrator review the amount of remedy that the University provided an employee after a finding that the non-discrimination article was violated. UAOSU bargaining team members did not ask any questions about this new section and said they would consider it.
In the Arbitration article, the University’s bargaining team presented a counter proposal that accepted a streamlined concept presented by UAOSU regarding an arbitrator’s assessment of the arbitrator’s jurisdiction in a matter. The new University’s proposal also changed language previously sought by the University that would have limited the arbitrator’s ability to award back pay and benefits. This movement coupled with the new language contained in the Grievance Procedures article was presented as a package proposal to UAOSU, which means that the new language of each proposal is contingent on the other.
The United Academics bargaining team next proposed a counter proposal on the Dues Deduction article. The Union’s proposal seeks to limit the ability of a bargaining unit member to submit a revocation card directly to the university and thereby cease having Union dues withheld from employee pay by the University. The University’s bargaining team has expressed in previous sessions that employees direct the University how to manage various withholdings from their paychecks, and that Union dues and revocations cards involve the same authority of an employee over their withholdings by the University. The University bargaining team said it would provide a counter proposal at a future session.
The next proposal offered by UAOSU was a counterproposal on the Academic Classification and Rank article. UAOSU’s proposal again sought to include definitions and practices found in OSU’s existing academic appointment guidelines document. The University bargaining team has acknowledged that to include existing policy and guidelines language in the collective bargaining agreement would accurately represent current practice. But the University bargaining team also has communicated that the University does not believe it is wise to include this level of granularity in the agreement.
The UAOSU bargaining team purports that the University does not want to place the detailed policy and guidelines language into the contract because the University does not want to follow its own policies. Instead, the University bargaining team has reminded the UAOSU bargaining team that this co-created document—the collective bargaining agreement—will serve as the foundation of OSU’s employment-related practices for many years into the future. Embedding policy and guidelines in the CBA at the level of specificity UAOSU is proposing could hamper the University’s ability to evolve in a way that is advantageous to both the university and employees. The University bargaining team expressed in an earlier session that no single employee group “owns” work and that the role of other groups in shaping policy and practices is also important, such as the Faculty Senate. At that time, for example, the University provided a number of examples in which other individuals employed by OSU perform labor in these areas, but hold positions that are not legally represented by UAOSU.
2. New Areas of Negotiation
After a lunch break, the University’s bargaining team presented the Appointment, Reappointment, Reviews and Promotion article and an accompanying letter of agreement to address a timeframe associated with updating all academic position descriptions. This article was responsive to eight of UAOSU’s stand-alone related proposals. The University’s proposal included language related to appointments, reappointments, position descriptions, reviews, promotion and tenure and retrenchment. As the University bargaining team presented proposed language, the UAOSU bargaining team asked whether the University’s bargaining team sought degrade members’ existing rights by not making reference to all current practices in the proposal. The University bargaining team responded that it was not proposing to diminish existing rights. The University’s proposals do not legislate away rights and precedents by omission, and could not, as many of those rights and precedents originate and perpetuate through the strong shared governance system of the University. A flashpoint of this issue concerned multi-year contracts for non-tenure-track faculty. The UAOSU bargaining team interprets multi-year agreements as a guaranteed right, while current University policy indicates that such promotions provide eligibility for multi-year contracts. The University bargaining team welcomes further conversation about how such multi-year contracts will be handled. However, UAOSU requested a caucus and, upon return from the caucus, the union bargaining team members said that they understood the intent of the University’s bargaining team’s whole proposal and asked if the University had other proposals for their consideration.
The University’s bargaining team presented a counterproposal on a Benefits article that was responsive to a number of UAOSU’s stand-alone proposals on benefits. The University bargaining team stated that its proposals sought to reinforce the existing practices pertaining to health insurance, retirement, and parking. UAOSU members expressed their displeasure with the proposal, inferring that the University had an intention to arrive at a less advantageous position for the UAOSU bargaining unit members than for other employee groups. The University’s bargaining team reinforced that its proposal was not meant to reduce benefits, but to extend them on the same basis as they currently exist. UAOSU bargaining team expressed their desire to conclude the negotiations for that day, without more exchange, and further expressed their dislike for the University bargaining team’s proposals.
UAOSU portrayed the University bargaining team’s proposals as disrespectful. This was not the intent of the counterproposals. Instead, in the process of bargaining, the University’s bargaining team offered responses to only a portion of UAOSU’s economic proposals, and will not arrive at a final position on any one piece until the entirety of the economic proposals are being actively negotiated. In total, UAOSU’s economic proposals include provisions that represent an annual total projected cost of approximately $35 million. This is not an inconsequential amount being requested by UAOSU, and additional expenditures in one area of the University’s operations will impact other areas. The University bargaining team is committed to the bargaining process with UAOSU and has an equally important responsibility to the OSU community at large to ensure the judicious considerations of impacts upon the University’s overall budget, within a system that must ultimately take into account multiple stakeholders as well as the total package of proposals that will be negotiated in days to come.
The Parties are set to negotiate again on Friday, Oct. 11th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.
The Parties met for their 21st bargaining session.
UAOSU presented a counterproposal on the Arbitration article which brought the Parties closer to an agreement. The union’s proposal struck previous language involving a specific process and timeline to be followed when a Party seeks to have an arbitrator first assess whether they have jurisdiction to act on a particular case. UAOSU bargaining team members shared that they are not seeking to prohibit arguments of arbitrability, and maintained language allowing either Party to seek judicial review of a matter. In addition, UAOSU’s proposal struck the language proposed by management that limits the arbitrator’s ability to award pay retroactively to a date earlier than thirty days before the date the grievance was initially filed.
UAOSU then proposed a counterproposal on the Academic Freedom article, stating that its membership feels strongly that this article must provide some specific safeguards to ensure that a student’s grade will not be changed without the faculty member’s consent. The University’s bargaining team shared again that an updated process has been established that involves the faculty member when a student has requested a review of their grade. The UAOSU bargaining team also asserts that this article needs to be grievable under the collective bargaining agreement. The University’s bargaining team, however, holds that the Collective Bargaining Agreement is not the appropriate method for resolving disputes involving academic freedom, noting that principled academic freedom matters are typically reviewed and adjudicated by faculty peers.
The final proposal presented to the University bargaining team was the Discipline and Termination article. The Parties discussed their joint understanding of what specific sanctions are available to supervisors when imposing a formal discipline measure. UAOSU’s proposal sought to limit available sanctions in contract language: to written reprimand; suspension with or without pay; and termination. After a caucus, the University bargaining team accepted UAOSU’s final proposal on this article and signed a tentative agreement.
The University bargaining team presented its counterproposal on the Dues Deduction article. UAOSU asked a few clarifying questions about some of the language, primarily seeking clarification about the terms under which the University is willing to deduct dues from a paycheck and what notification is required to either start or end these deductions.
The Parties concluded the session by making a commitment to bring a number of counterproposals to the next bargaining session, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5, beginning at 9 a.m., on the OSU-Cascades campus.
The University’s bargaining team presented a counterproposal on the Non-Discrimination article and an accompanying Letter of Agreement. UAOSU bargaining team members sought clarification on their request, embedded in their last proposal, seeking to include other labor unions and ASOSU within the meetings on respectful workplaces being established by the Letter of Agreement. The University’s bargaining team proposal struck this inclusion, reiterating that its efforts in these negotiations are to forge an agreement with the bargaining unit members represented by the UAOSU. University bargaining team members expressed that the University does not intend to codify language within the Agreement regarding other groups that are not Parties to this Agreement.
The University’s bargaining team presented a counterproposal on the Health and Safety article. The Parties held a discussion about a number of shared interests. For instance, both Parties agree that bargaining unit members should not continue to work when they believe their life is in imminent danger. The University bargaining team also agreed that the University will provide the tools and equipment for employees necessary to carry out their assigned work duties. The Parties, however, continue to disagree about the terms under which the University absorbs costs related to the repair or replacement of University property. The University bargaining team asserts that the management of University property is a high-context activity in which multiple factors (age, condition, cost, scope of use, etc.) make it imprudent to agree to a blanket commitment to replace or repair all items. Based on the discussion, UAOSU plans to bring a counterproposal on this article to a future bargaining session.
To end the bargaining session, UAOSU returned with no further questions on the Non-Discrimination and the Letter of Agreement, and the Parties signed a tentative agreement.
The Parties are set to negotiate again on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center.
The University’s bargaining team presented a counterproposal on the Arbitration article. The Parties agree on many aspects of this article with the exception of two items. The first item involves the process and proposed timelines in the initial stage of determining whether an arbitrator has the jurisdiction to act. UAOSU’s last counterproposal sought to establish that the University would need to contest an arbitrator’s jurisdiction on a matter 30 days prior to an arbitration hearing being held. In response, the University’s bargaining team proposed a shorter time frame of 15 days. The second item still being negotiated relates to the scope of a potential arbitration award, specifically how many months prior to the date of notice of a concern the arbitrator could consider for potential retroactive payments.
The University’s bargaining team also presented a counterproposal on the Discipline and Termination article. The remaining article element still being negotiated relates to the scope of the list of possible sanctions that may be imposed on a bargaining unit member in discipline-related matters. In this discussion, the bargaining Parties are seeking a common understanding and agreed-upon set of responses defining how conduct or behavior may be addressed with a bargaining unit member.
The final counterproposal that the University bargaining team presented was the Academic Freedom article. UAOSU continues to place language related to grade adjudication within the article. Members of the University bargaining team, however, shared with the union bargaining team that they understand this article as involving principles rather than policies. In terms of specific policies related to grades, moreover, the University bargaining team has shared that there is an updated process that ensures a faculty member is aware of how a grade dispute is being reviewed. The University bargaining team also has shared that while there are occasions when the University may need to step in to assign a grade, these instances are very rare, and typically occur when a faculty member is unable to assign the grade.
UAOSU accepted the Recognition article presented by the University at the previous bargaining session. The Parties signed a tentative agreement on this article.
The UAOSU bargaining team presented a counterproposal on the Non-Discrimination article, with very few proposed edits. In addition, the union bargaining team presented a counterproposal on the Letter of Agreement whereby the Parties will create a committee to provide input and recommendations with respect to the university non-discrimination policies and procedures. The proposal included an invitation to other groups, who are not represented within this Agreement, and sought to negotiate the inclusion of the recommendations into the Agreement. The University’s bargaining team expressed their appreciation for the counterproposal and indicated that it would provide a counterproposal at the next bargaining session.
UAOSU then presented counterproposals on the Union Rights and Release Time articles. On Union Rights, the Parties continued to discuss how, in certain union related-matters, a designated United Academic official may be granted flexibility in their work to allow reasonable time to perform these union-related duties. The second counterproposal sought a pool of release time equivalent to three full-time positions for United Academics representatives, to be paid from the University’s budget, to conduct union-related duties during regularly scheduled work hours. Given that impact on a workplace, the University bargaining team is considering these articles in the fuller context of the proposal’s economic implications.
Finally, UAOSU presented a counterproposal on the Grievance article. Their proposal continues to expand the scope of grievances to any University rule, policy, procedure or standard, including those outside the bargaining agreement. The Union contends that the University can violate its own policies without recourse. The University bargaining team has repeatedly shared that the policies in place contain a variety of mechanisms in place to ensure compliance. In addition, UAOSU continues to press for grievances alleging discrimination to be taken to an external arbitrator for review. The University’s bargaining team has repeatedly reminded the union bargaining team that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the state Bureau of Labor and Industries are external to the University and these outside agencies are the established experts in these type of cases.
The Parties are set to negotiate again on Monday, Sept. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. at LaSells Stewart Center.
The Parties met on Sept. 10, 2019, in Newport at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The Parties discussed a total of eight proposals.
The University bargaining team first presented a counterproposal on the Recognition Article. Like the version proposed by UAOSU, the University’s proposal tracked the language from the legal Certification of Order. The Parties did discuss a request by UAOSU to include language that seeks to require the Employer to allow only bargaining unit members to perform the types of work they are currently doing, such as teaching or conducting research. The University bargaining team reminded UAOSU that there are a number of employees within the university who perform similar work, such as Graduate Teaching Assistants, supervisors, and administrators, who are excluded from the bargaining unit, and more. The bargaining unit represents many individuals, but not all individuals, who perform these fundamental tasks.
Next, the University bargaining team offered a counterproposal on an Academic Classification/Rank Article. This proposed article sought to clarify the academic ranks that are represented by United Academics. The Parties had a good discussion around how some of the language being sought by United Academics already appears in the Academic Appointment Guidelines. The University’s bargaining team expressed that its counter proposal does not seek to replicate the same level of detail that is already contained within the existing Academic Appointment Guidelines. The University bargaining team further confirmed
asserted that the extant guidelines are a product of shared governance efforts between the Faculty Senate and the University Administration.
The University bargaining team then presented a counterproposal on the Grievance Article. While the parties are very close to an agreement on the process by which a grievance may be filed, the UAOSU bargaining team echoed its ongoing request that members should be able to grieve University policies under the collective bargaining agreement. The University bargaining team responded again that grievances presented under the agreement should refer to the agreement, under which the Parties have expressly agreed to specific language. UAOSU also re-proposed their ability to take grievances alleging discrimination to an external arbitrator. The University bargaining team again stressed the university’s position that external review should transit not to a general arbitrator but to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries or the Equal Employment Opportunity commissions, given those organizations’ experience in addressing these matters.
The University bargaining team’s final counterproposal was on the Non-Discrimination Article. Again, the parties have moved closer to reaching an agreement on this article. Final discussions revolved around how to establish a committee that would be tasked with reviewing and providing recommendations about the University’s non-discrimination policies and procedures.
The United Academics bargaining team then presented a counterproposal on the Health and Safety Article. The Parties agree that an employee should report a potentially hazardous work environment and, if deemed imminently hazardous or dangerous, that the University will take steps to remedy the situation. The Parties also agree that health and safety trainings must be made available and completed when required for a bargaining unit member’s job. In addition, the University continues to make the commitment to furnish and maintain in safe working condition the buildings, work spaces, furnishings, tools, and equipment necessary to carry out assigned work duties. United Academics is also seeking the inclusion of conditions by which a bargaining unit member’s work space or location could be altered. The University bargaining team expressed their understanding of the proposal and plans to bring a counterproposal to a future bargaining session.
United Academics then offered a counterproposal on the Academic Freedom article, which largely confirmed the Parties are getting close to an agreement on language. The University bargaining team expressed its appreciation for the proposal and indicated that it would review the proposal in detail.
Because the Parties had already gone over the scheduled meeting time, United Academics went through the next two counterproposals quickly. These included the Discipline and Termination Article and the Arbitration Article. The United Academics bargaining team provided a brief summary of the updates made to the proposals from the last proposals The University bargaining team asked a few clarifying questions and expressed an intent to return with counterproposals or further questions to a future next bargaining session.
The next session is set for noon to 4 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the LaSells Stewart Center.
The Parties met on Aug. 28, 2019, and discussed three counterproposals that had been exchanged in previous bargaining sessions.
Members of the United Academics bargaining team opened by presenting a counterproposal to the Universities’ proposed Non-Discrimination Article. The counterproposal followed the University’s proposal of July 27, which incorporated the Sexual Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination article into the Non-Discrimination article. In a preamble, United Academics offered additional language on the Parties’ mutual commitment to creating an environment free of sexual harassment, bullying, and discrimination. The University bargaining team expressed its appreciation of the additional confirmation of this shared responsibility. In addition, United Academics added new language that would create a standing committee comprised of both representatives from the Union and from University offices to provide recommendations with respect to University non-discrimination policies and procedures. The University bargaining team asked clarifying questions, then thanked United Academics for the dialogue and expressed its intent to present a counterproposal on this article at the next bargaining session.
United Academics then presented a counterproposal on Grievance. The Parties continue to discuss what matters may be grieved, timeframes by which a grievance needs to be filed, what administrator will serve at each level of the three-step grievance process, and how claims alleging discrimination should be addressed. Discussion continued around whether grievances alleging discrimination should have the ability to escalate to an external arbitrator. Members of the University bargaining team reinforced the University’s position that the more appropriate external entity is the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, given those organizations’ experience in addressing these matters. Again, the University bargaining team expressed its intent to return to the next bargaining session with a counterproposal on this article.
The final counterproposal discussed was the Personnel Records articles. The Parties agreed that the term “personnel records” is the umbrella term that includes “personnel files.” However, given that there are some existing policies and guidelines that use both terms, the Parties agreed that the title of the Article would be Personnel Records, but that the content would recognize both personnel records and files. In addition, members of the United Academics bargaining team confirmed their understanding that the law defines what information an employee is eligible to receive. Finally, the Parties discussed how a bargaining unit member should submit a petition to rectify an error of fact or omission in their personnel records. The Parties agreed that such a petition should be submitted to the Assistant Provost for Academic Employee and Labor Relations, and signed a Tentative Agreement on this article.
The Parties are set to bargain again from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 10 in Newport.
On Aug. 26, the bargaining teams for the University and United Academics met for a 16th bargaining session.
The University bargaining team presented a counterproposal on Academic Freedom. This counterproposal was informed by the conversation at a previous bargaining session regarding the Parties’ joint responsibility to maintain an atmosphere in which scholars may freely teach, conduct research, publish and engage in other scholarly activities. The principles articulated in the article presented by the University intentionally align with the existing OSU Statement on Academic Freedom, which has provided a solid framework for the OSU academic community to use when reviewing matters. This statement was reaffirmed by the Faculty Senate as part of a resolution on Feb. 9, 2006. As a matter of principle, the University bargaining team views existing Faculty Senate language, concepts and processes as established precedent within OSU’s shared governance, and relies — whenever appropriate — upon models that have been vetted through the Faculty Senate.
United Academics sought further clarity on how and when the University would act to change a grade submitted by a bargaining unit member. The University bargaining team shared the updated process related to student misconduct, which provides for a full review of the situation through the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. In the new process, the unit head does not adjudicate misconduct and any changes of grade therewith associated. United Academics expressed a continued desire to have language that would limit the University’s ability to modify a grade that was submitted by a bargaining unit member, while recognizing that there may be times when inaction by the University could result in a delay that adversely affects the student, which neither Party has a desire to see happen.
Members of the United Academics bargaining team expressed their appreciation for the University responding in the counter-proposal to prior conversations and shared their intent to bring a counterproposal to a future bargaining session. The Parties are set to bargain again on Aug. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Parties met to bargain on Aug. 21, 2019, and discussed three new counterproposals presented by the University bargaining team.
Health and Safety represented the first counterproposal of the day to be passed to United Academics. The University bargaining team reconfirmed the university’s commitment to ensuring that faculty members have a healthy and safe workplace. In addition, the Parties discussed how an employee should submit a health and safety concern involving their work environment to the Environmental Health and Safety Office. Further discussion centered on how the employee and the University would respond once the concern has been submitted. Given the vast array of worksites and conditions involved in University research, teaching, and outreach, a diverse and flexible set of possible responses is required. The Parties agreed that unique situations would require unique responses. United Academics bargaining team members shared that they will bring a counterproposal to a future bargaining session that will seek to clarify some of the language.
The University’s bargaining team then offered a counterproposal on the Management Rights article which, in large part, was similar to the proposal previously offered by the University bargaining team. We reiterated OSU’s desire to enumerate the types of decisions that need to be retained by the University. The University bargaining team also presented a counterproposal to the Union Rights article, working from United Academic’s initial article. The University bargaining team agreed to language that allows for a certain degree of flexibility in scheduling work, with supervisory approval, for designated representatives of United Academics to participate in Union related matters. The University’s proposal also agreed to provide a quarterly membership report to UAOSU and specified certain union rights related to communication. United Academics bargaining team members stated that they intend to come with a counter for the University bargaining team’s consideration at a future session.
The Parties are set to bargain again on Aug. 26 from noon to 4 p.m.
The Parties resumed bargaining by confirming that the Parties will hold a negotiation session at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport on Sept. 10.
The United Academics bargaining team began the meeting by asking questions related to the three proposals the University bargaining team presented at the last session. The first questions sought clarity around the Grievance article. The Union asked whether the University had intentionally specified “designated officials” of the Union as the allowed representatives at Grievance proceedings, to which the University responded affirmatively. Because matters discussed in grievances often include confidential personnel information, the University team shared that it is important to have confirmation from United Academics that the person participating in the meeting is there in an official capacity. In addition, UAOSU requested that the University bargaining team details why the University’s proposal excludes grievances alleging discrimination from going to an outside arbitrator. University bargaining team members shared that these matters, if contested externally, are most appropriately not handled by a general arbitrator, but by the trained experts in this area working within the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Next, UAOSU posed questions related to those sections of the Arbitration proposal that focused on limitations to the arbitrator’s ability to award back pay. These questions revealed that United Academics was seeking to include benefits as an item that the arbitrator could award. Additionally, United Academics asked for more clarification about how costs would be distributed in the event that the parties reach a settlement. University bargaining team members expressed their understanding of United Academics’ request for more clarity, and indicated the University’s willingness to consider counter language in this section.
Remaining questions from UAOSU concerned the Discipline and Termination article. United Academics asked about language within OSU’s proposal allowing the University to make work assignment determinations for a bargaining unit member during an investigation. The University’s bargaining team responded that it is sometimes necessary to modify work assignments for an employee based on the nature of the allegations. Members of the United Academics bargaining team confirmed their understanding of this position. Their last question was focused on the language regarding the proposed process that the University would follow should a bargaining unit member abandon their job. United Academics sought confirmation about how the University would define the word “absent.” The Parties agreed that bargaining unit members on an active contract would need to be available should there be work-related responsibilities that needed to be accomplished. The University bargaining team also acknowledged the unique nature of the work performed by the bargaining unit members and recognized that there would be times when a bargaining unit member, with communication to their supervisor, might be traveling and unable to be as responsive as is customary. Both Parties agreed that the language is meant to address a situation wherein a bargaining unit member has functionally abandoned their position and their work. United Academics bargaining team members expressed their appreciation for the conversation and clarity about the proposed language.
Finally, the University bargaining team offered a counterproposal on the Personnel Records (Files) article. The proposal referenced “personnel records” as the broader term, covering personnel files, and also included language being sought by United Academics addressing (1) a bargaining unit member’s ability to add comments, explanation or rebuttals into their personnel records; (2) a bargaining unit member’s ability to petition for removal of a document from their personnel records. Members of the United Academics bargaining team shared their continued desire to cite both “personnel files” and “personnel records” in the proposal. They said they will provide a counter proposal for the University bargaining team’s consideration at a future session.
The Parties are set to bargain again on Aug. 21 from noon to 4 p.m.
The Parties opened the bargaining session by discussing the upcoming confirmed bargaining dates, and continue to work toward identifying a mutually agreeable date that will allow for a future bargaining session to be held at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
United Academics opened by presenting a counterproposal on the Personnel Files article. The Union’s proposal seeks to include reference to both personnel files and to personnel records because Union bargaining team members state that, in their review of the law and university policies, it would appear that the two words are used interchangeably. The University’s bargaining team indicated that “personnel records” is the umbrella term that covers personnel files, so there is not a need to include both terms. In addition, United Academics is requesting the inclusion of “files and records relating to discipline.” The University shared its hesitation with such broad language given that this could contain confidential information, and thus decisions about what information should be shared need to be made on a case-by-case basis.
Next, the University bargaining team offered a package proposal containing three articles: Discipline and Termination, Grievances, and Arbitration. The first article shared was Discipline and Termination. The Parties agree to the principles of just cause when considering the need to address the poor performance or conduct of a bargaining unit member and further recognize the principles of progressive discipline, when appropriate. The University’s proposal offered both informal and formal mechanisms to address conduct and/or performance matters. In addition, the proposal asserted the right of a bargaining unit member to be accompanied by a union representative in a meeting that may result in discipline. The final section of the proposed article presented a process that the University would follow should a bargaining unit member abandon their job. Given that much of the work performed by bargaining unit members involves teaching, research, and mentorship, it is important to have the ability to act quickly when a bargaining unit member does not intend to return to work and coverage for classes or research laboratories is required.
The next article proposal offered by the University addressed Grievances. This proposal sought to acknowledge an alternative grievance procedure for complaints of discrimination. As in United Academics’ proposal, the University’s proposal transitions the given matter to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access for investigation. In addition, the University’s proposal offered three formal levels of review within OSU: by the supervisor, by a Dean/Director, and by the Provost. The University bargaining team said it is hoped that most matters will be addressed first informally and resolved in the initial discussions.
Finally, the University’s bargaining team offered an Arbitration article. Should a grievant not be satisfied with the reviews conducted at the previous steps, the arbitration proposal affords them the right to further appeal the matter to an external arbitrator. The article details how the two parties would work together to select an arbitrator; how the hearing would be conducted; the authority of the arbitrator, and how costs related to this process would be determined.
To conclude the bargaining session, members of United Academics bargaining team asked clarifying questions about the three proposals and indicated that they would have further questions at the next bargaining next session, which is scheduled to be held Aug. 15 from noon to 4 p.m.
The University bargaining team opened by indicating that Heather Horn will now be serving as the lead negotiator, and by giving a brief summary on her labor and employee relations background. We also shared that Steph Bernell, Associate Dean in the Graduate School, will be joining the University bargaining team.
The Parties then discussed and agreed to transition away from the Saturday bargaining sessions. The Parties agreed to seek alternative times during the work week for half-day sessions, recognizing that the full-day bargaining session in Bend may need to be maintained given the length of the drive. In addition, the Parties are still finalizing plans for the session to be held at Newport.
The University bargaining team offered a written counterproposal on the No Strike, No Lockout article, which very closely mirrored United Academic’s last written proposal on this article. This counterproposal prompted a discussion between the Parties about how employees should be referred to in the written proposals exchanged during bargaining. The University bargaining team requested to use “bargaining unit members” until such time that the Parties have reached a tentative agreement on all of the contract articles. At that time, we would be willing to revisit whether there is a desire to use a different term to refer to the employees who are represented by this contract. The Union expressed an appreciation for the open discussion and agreed to use the general terminology until the end of the bargaining process. After a brief caucus, the Union indicated their agreement with the proposal and the Parties signed a Tentative Agreement on this article.
The University bargaining team presented a written counterproposal on the Distribution of the Agreement article. The counterproposal indicated our willingness to post the contract online, after its full ratification, and to notify the Union once this task had been completed. We further indicated that the University does have a shared interest in notifying an employee, within their offer letter, that the position is represented by the UAOSU, and that we think this language is more appropriately placed in the article that discusses appointments and reappointments. The University bargaining team declined to agree to the printing of copies for United Academics and, instead, offered that we should consider updating the title of the article to “Electronic Availability of Agreement,” in recognition of how most people will access the contract. After multiple exchanges on this article, the Parties signed a Tentative Agreement on this article, which will be titled Availability of the Agreement.
The third written counterproposal that the University bargaining team presented was on the Savings article. This is another article on which, in principle, the Parties were very close to agreement. The purpose of the Savings article is to confirm that if one provision of the collective bargaining agreement is rendered unenforceable, or if there is contest as to whether or not a provision might be rendered unenforceable, then the remainder of the contract remains intact and enforceable. The Parties signed an additional Tentative Agreement on this article.
The University bargaining team also presented a fourth written counterproposal on the Labor Management Meeting/Consultations article. The Parties agree about the importance of building a strong relationship, and that these meetings are an important step toward ensuring that the “operationalizing” of the contract is consistent with the Parties’ understanding of the agreed-upon language. United Academics asked some clarifying questions about how many participants could be included in these meetings, about the frequency of the meetings, and about the purpose of the agenda being shared before each meeting. After this conversation, the parties broke for lunch and caucus. Subsequently, after multiple written exchanges, the Parties signed a Tentative Agreement on this article.
To conclude the day, the University bargaining team presented a fifth written counterproposal on the Non-Discrimination article. The University expressed its understanding that the Union is seeking to expand the overall number of protected categories. The University bargaining team highlighted that there are federally recognized protected categories, as well as a more expansive list within Oregon law. The University’s proposal affirmatively condemns discrimination on “any other basis protected by law,” ensuring that the contract can be uniformly enforced under legal precedent as it stands and as it evolves. Finally, the University bargaining team shared that OSU’s proposal constituted a response to United Academics’ stand-alone proposal on the Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination article. Specifically, the University Bargaining Team affirmed that the insights and experience of the faculty are integral to understanding how OSU’s processes can continue to be improved. The University’s proposal therefore provided for an annual meeting between the represented faculty and representatives from the Office of Faculty Affairs, Equal Opportunity and Access, and the Office of Institutional Diversity. United Academics indicated its appreciation for the proposal and shared the Union would review its position on the Non-Discrimination article, as well as the Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination article.
The Parties are set to negotiate again on August 13th from noon-3pm.
The University and the Union bargaining teams met on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, and signed tentative agreements on the Parties to the Agreement and Notices articles. While these are two standard contract articles, the two teams continue to make progress in this inaugural bargaining process.
The OSU bargaining team presented the University’s existing commitment to Academic Freedom, in response to the Union’s proposal on Academic Freedom. The University shared that its Academic Freedom statement is specific to OSU, has provided a solid framework for the OSU academic community to utilize when reviewing matters, was reaffirmed by Faculty Senate, and even embodied in one of the Senate’s resolutions. The joint statement reinforces that “… it is ultimately our values and our culture that will insure the integrity of OSU as a public institution serving in the best interests of society.” The University bargaining team expressed OSU’s interest in the inclusion of an academic freedom article within the collective bargaining agreement and further stated the University’s appreciation for the Union’s bargaining team’s examples that provided additional context for some of the specifics being requested within the Union’s proposal. The University bargaining team shared that OSU would further consider the specific examples, and would be prepared in a future bargaining session to continue to discuss this important topic.
The Union bargaining team presented a counterproposal on the Grievance article. The University’s bargaining team posed some questions related to the timeframes the Union has requested in its proposal. Specifically, the Union proposal seeks to extend the initial timeframe to submit a grievance through the primary grievance process, as well as increase the timeframe for a grievant to file an alleged discrimination claim through a newly proposed process by which a matter would be investigated through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. The University’s bargaining team will discuss the requests, as submitted in this most recent counterproposal, and respond to the Union in a future session.
The next bargaining session is Saturday, July 27, 2019.
The University and Union bargaining teams met on Friday, June 28, 2019. The University bargaining team engaged the Union in a discussion about its proposed article on Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination. The University bargaining team shared that it must consider all of OSU’s compliance obligations regarding the investigation of these claims. However, the University bargaining team said OSU recognizes that the process issues raised by the Union, including investigation times and communications regarding investigations, are a concern. The University bargaining team informed the Union team that OSU has reviewed the internal investigation processes involving reports of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination, and is beginning to implement changes to improve these processes, and discussed ways the Union can provide information that may contribute to improvements.
The University also addressed proposals from the Union regarding a Hiring Article that applied to individuals applying for employed within the university. The University acknowledged that the Union acts as the exclusive bargaining representative of the members of the faculty bargaining unit, however, shared that since applicants are not yet employed by the University, they are not members of the bargaining unit. The University further discussed concerns related to the Union’s proposal on Family Medical Leave and definitions that differ with current statutory definitions. The Union team acknowledged that its proposal is seeking to expand the rights of its employee group, and said that Oregon House Bill 3031 – which the Union had referenced in its proposal and that deals with family leave benefits – had failed to be adopted by the Oregon Legislature. After further discussion, the parties agreed to revisit the issue at the next session.
The parties exchanged counterproposals on Personnel Files. The University accepted Union counterproposals on Notices and Parties to the Agreement, and as they had exceeded the scheduled time, the Union proposed the parties execute Tentative Agreements at the next session.
The University bargaining team emphasized the collective bargaining agreement is a contract that requires the University to fully consider all elements of the proposals and the University’s obligations. While the Union suggests that the University bargaining team is stalling, the Union has continued to propose articles that the University team rejected as being too limiting or contrary to allow the university to meet existing obligations. A full analysis of proposals is critical to ensure that the agreement between the parties is a viable document and ensures the University can fulfill all of its obligations and serve the University community well. This is an important process that will take time, and OSU is committed to reaching a good agreement with the Union and the represented faculty.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for July 10, 2019.
The bargaining teams met on Monday, June 17, 2019. The University bargaining team asked a number of questions regarding the Union’s proposals on Promotion and Tenure and raised concerns regarding the impact of some of those proposals. The Union bargaining team shared that, for the most part, its proposals were intended to be consistent with its understanding of OSU’s current Promotion and Tenure policy and practice. In addition, the Union presented articles regarding parking, post-tenure review, workload, pre-employment hiring, faculty governance and the Faculty Senate.
The University presented two written proposals regarding Health and Safety and Parties to the Agreement. The University’s proposal on Parties to Agreement seeks to codify how the Union and University will be referred to throughout the contract. During the conversation on the Health and Safety article, the University raised concerns that the Union’s Health and Safety proposal presented a number of sections unrelated to health and safety that were not mandatory issues for bargaining. Specifically, the University interpreted the Union’s proposal to limit OSU’s ability to manage facilities and allocate space with the flexibility necessary to meet changing needs and priorities. The University highlighted the fact that the contract represents a large population of faculty, who perform a wide variety of tasks and some in remote geographic locations. The University bargaining team shared with the Union that these varied faculty tasks and locations necessitate that OSU managers are able to consider a wide array of factors in each circumstance to determine how to ensure providing resources and support to all of OSU’s faculty. The University bargaining team reinforced that OSU is committed to providing a work environment where faculty members have a healthy and safe workplace.
The Union indicated it does not anticipate presenting any additional new articles. So the parties will continue to work toward a common understanding and an agreement. The next bargaining session is Friday, June 28.
The bargaining teams met for a full day of bargaining on Saturday, June 8, 2019. The university presented a proposal regarding the grievance process. The university’s proposal provides a process by which a faculty member can bring forth a claim that a specific provision of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement has been violated. According to the university’s proposal, discrimination complaints would be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access for review and investigation. As well, faculty members would continue to have the ability to utilize the existing Faculty Senate grievance process should they desire to use that forum to submit a complaint for matters they choose to not pursue within the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
UAOSU presented to the university proposals regarding promotion and tenure and shared concerns that there was a need for better clarity in the current language for the tenure and promotion process. Both bargaining teams engaged in robust discussion and the university bargaining team will seek additional clarification from the union regarding some of the UAOSU proposals at the next bargaining session.
The next bargaining session will be held Monday, June 17, 2019.
The University and UAOSU met for their 7th joint bargaining session on Saturday, May 18, 2019. The UAOSU presented data from other institutions and shared its wage proposal. The union is seeking guaranteed annual merit increases, annual cost of living increases, an established equity pool for pay adjustments, established minimum salary floors for each academic classification, a university-funded monthly child care subsidy of $50, and additional financial considerations. The University bargaining team caucused to review the proposal and responded by asking a few clarifying questions of the Union. The University will analyze these proposals to determine the scope of the financial requests being made.
UAOSU also presented an article on Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination that seeks to create a new committee with the stated purpose of creating improvements in existing University processes for addressing and investigating reported cases. The University asked a few clarifying questions and will review this proposal in more detail.
The University offered written counterproposals on three articles – Savings, Totality of Agreement, and Notices. The Union and the University continued to engage in dialogue on these three articles and exchanged written counterproposals. The parties reached agreement on a Totality of the Agreement article and signed a tentative agreement. In closing the negotiation session, the Union asked clarifying questions about the University Notice proposal.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Saturday, June 8.
The bargaining teams met for a two-hour negotiation session on Wednesday, May 16, 2019, during which UAOSU presented two new proposals. One proposed redistributing funds supporting other areas of university operations to extend pay for up to nine months of salary and benefits to research employees whose grant funding has ended or been reduced, modifying the benefit eligibility requirements, bonuses for principal investigators, discount tuition for graduate employees and more. The second proposal would change the current structure of patentable work, copyright and royalties. The university bargaining team listened to the UAOSU bargaining team's concerns and their reasoning for these proposals. The university asked for OSU-related examples that would help further understanding of the Union’s intentions within the proposed language.
The bargaining teams met for a half-day of bargaining on Monday, May 6, 2019. The University began by presenting three counterproposals on the Totality of the Agreement, No Strike/No Lockout, and Personnel File articles. The bargaining teams engaged in a discussion about the areas where they generally seem to agree but have not come to an agreement on other elements of the language. The parties are moving closer to an agreement on these articles; both are providing the reasoning for their position, which allows the parties to be more responsive in their counterproposals.
The UAOSU then presented a proposal for a Retrenchment article. The article was four pages in length and the university said it would need time to consider what is proposed before responding.
The university then presented a second counterproposal on the Personnel Files article, which generated more conversation about what the Union would like to see present in the final contract. This led to a broader discussion about how the parties have a different approach to the process. The university bargaining team is approaching the collective bargaining agreement as a contract between Oregon State University and UAOSU that identifies each party’s obligations. The UAOSU bargaining team communicated it was approaching the collective bargaining agreement as a communication to the bargaining unit members. As the university learns more about the proposals the union intends to present, it can better understand the scope of what the union seeks and assess its impact. We hope to continue a productive dialog and come to more mutual understandings.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, May 16.
Bargaining teams representing Oregon State University and United Academics of OSU (UAOSU) met for a half-day bargaining session on Tuesday, April 30. The parties continue to work toward an agreement on contract articles, including a Savings Clause. UAOSU presented three new proposals and two counterproposals. During the session, the university’s bargaining team member, Sherm Bloomer, director of the university budget and fiscal planning, shared information about the university’s current financial projections and pressures OSU faces from proposed state funding levels and enrollment trends. Questions and discussion followed. The university will continue to bring financial information to bargaining sessions to aid in discussing contract proposals and to provide updates as the state budget is finalized.
Looking ahead, the bargaining teams anticipate exchanging additional non-economic proposals before economic proposals are presented. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, May 6.
Members of the bargaining teams for the university and United Academics of OSU (UAOSU) met for a half-day bargaining session on Monday, April 22. During the session, the UAOSU presented the university bargaining team with six new initial proposals for consideration. In addition, the university’s team asked clarifying questions related to the UAOSU’s latest proposal on language within the Savings Clause, which directs how the labor agreement remains in effect while a section of the contract is invalidated. Specifically, the university is seeking language that acknowledges that the university and UAOSU will follow existing law, without citing references to specific state statutes that may change sometime in the future, requiring expensive and time-consuming litigation in the future, if those statutes change.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Saturday, April 27.
The bargaining teams for the University and United Academics of Oregon State University met in Corvallis for a full-day bargaining session on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The parties reached an agreement regarding the ground rules that will govern the bargaining process. Each party presented contract language proposals.
- No Strike/No Lockout
- Entire Agreement
- Bargaining Unit Recognition
- Management Rights
- Academic Freedom
- Academic Classification
- Distribution of the Agreement
- Release Time
- Personnel Files
- No Strike/No Lockout
- Totality of Agreement
- Grievance Procedures
OSU and UAOSU bargaining teams met on the Corvallis campus Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, to complete discussion of ground rules and establish the parties’ agreements regarding how they will conduct the collective bargaining process. The parties worked productively and left the table prior to finalizing the ground rules to allow UAOSU bargaining team members to meet with members of UAOSU. OSUs remains committed to the ground rules as a framework for reaching agreement in this first collective bargaining.
While not required, collective bargaining ground rules are an important component of most bargaining processes and offer the foundation for reaching agreement. Ground rules are especially helpful for a first contract when the parties involved in bargaining have not negotiated with each other before and are beginning to build a relationship. Setting and defining expectations promotes community and commonality. Ground rules cover such things as: who speaks for each bargaining team; how proposals are shared; how agreement is finalized and documented; agreements regarding deadlines; expectations for observers; and other matters.
The OSU bargaining team looks forward to finalizing ground rules soon with the UAOSU bargaining team. At a Feb. 18, 2019 bargaining session, OSU proposed that substantive bargaining sessions be held on March 23 and April 27. UAOSU has agreed to those meeting dates.
Oregon State University has hired Heather L. Horn to serve as assistant provost for academic employee and labor relations. Heather will join OSU beginning Feb. 28 and will be responsible for managing academic employee and labor relations, as well as contract administration to support professional relationships with employees, union representatives, supervisors, managers and administrators. Heather will also serve on the university’s bargaining team.
Prior to joining Oregon State, Heather worked in labor and employee relations at the University of Illinois, at both the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses. She holds a master’s degree in human resources and industrial relations and a certificate in entrepreneurship and management from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- Academic Freedom – December 17, 2019
- Health, Safety and Facilities - November 26, 2019
- Preamble – November 18, 2019
- Dues Deduction – November 13, 2019
- Discipline and Termination – September 25, 2019
- Non-Discrimination and Letter of Agreement – September 23, 2019
- Recognition - September 18, 2019
- Personnel Records - August 28, 2019
- No Strike, No Lockout - July 27, 2019
- Availability of Agreement - July 27, 2019
- Savings - July 27, 2019
- Labor Management Meeting - July 27, 2019
- Parties to the Agreement - July 10, 2019
- Notices - July 10, 2019
- Totality of Agreement - May 18, 2019