Our bargaining team met with the administration team for the third time on Thursday, to begin negotiating the proposals that were presented in the first and second sessions. Both parties had agreed to meet weekly so that they could get through minor items of “housekeeping” quickly, before the meatier issues, such as raises and contracts, come up. This time, the two teams negotiated a total of ten articles. The atmosphere remained convivial, although there were a few sharper exchanges toward the end, when the administration unveiled their proposal for Summer Session.
Our proposals at Thursday’s session can be grouped by how they align with United Academics’ Bargaining Platform. United Academics has posted every proposal and counter-proposal at our website, uauoregon.org.
Our bargaining team proposed a modification to Article 13 (“Health and Safety”) that would give United Academics full participation on a committee to develop a campus-wide workplace violence prevention program. Our team expressed some frustration at needing to propose this language because our last Collective Bargaining Agreement called for the development of this policy through the Safety Advisory Committee, on which we are already represented. That committee will not be the body developing the policy, so this new proposal is necessary. The administration team seemed receptive to the proposal.
The United Academics team called for the end of the onerous “up-or-out” system for our non-tenure-track colleagues in the Library (Article 17, “Assignment of Professional Responsibility”). While that system was ended for every other group of Career NTTF on campus, the administration insisted in 2013 that it remain in place for Librarians. While not every Librarian agrees the system needs to end, many find it unsatisfactory. For that reason, our team felt it important to open dialogue on this subject again.
Three of our proposals connect to our ongoing desire to bring greater transparency to the university.
We countered the administration proposal that there be one hard copy of the Faculty Handbook housed in Academic Affairs for faculty to peruse, by proposing that faculty can request a copy of the handbook – in paper or electronic form – free of charge (Article 7, “Faculty Handbook”). The administration still seems skeptical about the need for any handbook at all, but we hold out hope that they will agree to this small proposal.
In Article 6 (“Policies and Practices”), we proposed that the Union receive notice of all changes to university policy. We feel strongly that the Union has an obligation to give faculty the best possible guidance about working life at the university and we cannot do that if the administration can change policies without notifying us.
Lastly, the two parties discussed improving the guidelines for promotion of research faculty. Both sides expressed an interest in bringing clarity, regularization, and flexibility to that process.
One of the few troubling notes during the session was the administration proposal that faculty can be required to work in Summer Session if their department or unit has made this a requirement of working in the academic year (Article 18, “Summer Session Appointments and Assignments”). This would be a change from the current contract language, which says all Summer Session duty for nine-month faculty is voluntary, although it would not be a change in practice in some areas of campus.
The Union’s initial reaction was to express concern that there were no salary minimums specified in the administration’s proposal, theoretically allowing departments to make teaching in the summer for minimal or no salary a possibility. We hope that the administration heard this concern and will allay it in the next counter-proposal.
We bargain again on February 26 and the Union will be presenting our economic package. Please be there if you can!