We had a short bargaining session on Thursday. We were able to come to agreement on Article 11, which clarifies the release time provision for union officers. We also gave the administration team proposals on fringe benefits and professional ethics. In the fringe benefits proposal, we proposed that the Union and the University work together to set up an endowed fund that would provide child care subsidies to all members of the university community and/or augment on-campus child care facilities.
The administration team gave us counterproposals on arbitration and discipline. After a series of exchanges on the arbitration article, the administration proposed that we simply leave the article as-is. The conversation concerning discipline centered the administration’s currently unlimited right to place a faculty member on paid administrative leave while investigating potential discipline. The union has proposed a strict 45-day limit to paid administrative leave, while the administration proposes a 75-day limit with the option to extend it for various loosely defined reasons. We have yet to reach agreement on that issue.
The administration offered its counter-proposal on health insurance, rejecting our proposal to extend health insurance benefits to more part-time faculty. Their rationale: “it would cost $500,000 annually to benefit 76 faculty members, and that did not seem to us a good use of our resources.” We are confident that ensuring the health and well-being of 76 faculty members will do more to promote the academic mission than many things the university is currently willing to spend $500,000 on each year.
Lastly, we had a discussion about the university’s inclement weather policy. The university currently has one, but there are several aspects of it that are loosely or not at all defined. For instance, there is a requirement that “essential personnel” come to campus, no matter the weather. However, “essential personnel” is not defined. We had some conversation back and forth about the best way to clarify the policy so there is no confusion in the future.
The conversation that will have a big impact on everyone – salary – is coming this Thursday, on May 14, so please weigh in at the General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, May 13th, 5–7 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom. The bargaining team will be responding to the administration’s disappointing opening offer, and we will hear reports on the state and local politics of higher education from State Representative Paul Holvey (District 8) and Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson.
On Thursday bargaining will begin, as always, at 2:00 p.m. in the Knight Library Collaboration Center, Room 122. Everyone is welcome to attend for as long as they can.