Negotiation Update…and PICNIC NEXT WEEK!

Bargaining Update: July 23

Our team and the University Administration team met to bargain today (July 23) from 9 am to 3 pm. We talked about Tenure Promotion and Review and the economic articles. 

Our conversation on Tenure Promotion and Review was a good one. We are very close to striking a deal that would enshrine most of the tenure process that faculty will be very familiar with, while making some needed improvements (including greater transparency of guidelines, more clarity in what is expected for service, notification before required meetings, and standardizing post-tenure reviews, among other things).

Our conversation on the economic articles did not go as smoothly. We did see some progress on a couple issues.  Most prominently, we secured a second tuition discount for faculty with two dependents concurrently attending UO. The University Administration’s salary proposal did not, however, increase the amount of money to faculty raises from what they had offered last time. They did move some money from across-the-board raises to address internal compression and equity problems, but only for tenure-track faculty and not until 2015.  By our calculations, the University Administration’s proposal would give the average faculty member a 10.5% raise (some of it retroactive) over three years.

It was a tough day. The University Administration’s position on the money issue is that they have put all the dollars on the table that they are going to put on the table. Our efforts to suggest ways they could redistribute money from other parts of the University budget have been unsuccessful. Our efforts to explore where money could be reprioritized have been rebuffed. They say that our ideas, suggestions, frustrations, complaints, and needs are heard, but that there is little or nothing more they can do.

We feel strongly that we need to address the historical neglect of all faculty salaries sooner, rather than later. We have tried subsisting on promises for years, but promises cannot satisfy any longer. The University budget is healthy, we expect additional tuition revenue, PERS costs are lower, and the University holds financial reserves even larger than the state allows.  We are proposing relatively modest across-the-board raises. We are proposing money to address both external equity and internal equity – an attempt to take seriously the administration promises to the University Senate in 2000 – for all faculty. We have proposed setting salary floors for NTTF. And we have proposed a robust merit raise package. We think that this is what we faculty need to put us in a position to recruit and retain the best colleagues we can. We think that the University Administration proposal falls short of meeting this important goal.

We have pledged to keep working with the administration on the wage issue. Both sides recognize that our disagreements need solutions. We will work to keep you informed about our progress and how you can help the administration understand how important this issue is to you and your colleagues.

Our next session is tomorrow (July 24) from 1 pm to 4 pm in Library 122. We do not have an agenda for that meeting as of yet, but, as always, we welcome you to stop by and we appreciate your support.

 

NEXT WEEK 

BARGAINING

Next week we have scheduled four consecutive days of contract negotiations: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 9am-4pm, and Wednesday 9am-2pm, in 122 Knight Library.

 

PICNIC!

On Tuesday (July 30), United Academics is hosting a PICNIC in the Quad in front of the Library from 11:30am – 1:30pm.  Members of our negotiating team will be on hand to answer questions, receive feedback, and discuss next steps in our contract campaign.  Please be sure to stop by, grab a bite with your colleagues, and learn more about winning a strong first contract. 

You can also click her to download our Picnic Flyer with additional information.   

Bargaining Update – July 22, 2013 Negotiations

Our bargaining team met with the University Administration’s team yesterday from 11 am to 4 pm. We bargained over Facilities and Support, Health and Safety, NTTF Review and Promotion, Shared Governance, and Academic Freedom.

 

Facilities and Support

Our bargaining over Facilities & Support continued to focus on two issues. First, we are sounding each other out about what might constitute “reasonable” office and desk space. We continue to assert that “reasonable” is about the least and most flexible measure we can offer on this important issue. The University Administration still argues that “reasonable” might be too inflexible to allow for the lack of space resources on campus and, theoretically, give too much power to an arbitrator to tell them how to use their buildings. There might be a way forward with some further refining of “reasonable.” We await their counteroffer and their ideas. 

The second issue we focused on was the assignment of classroom space and technology. It looks like we might have a way forward toward ensuring that the classroom space and technology will match the space and technology requested, but we still struggle with what happens if the technology should break down or be unavailable.

 

Health and Safety

We did very little bargaining over the issue of Health and Safety. We continue to propose that the University Administration should notify the union in the event of an OSHA inspection of faculty workspaces; they continue to resist this “administrative burden.” Otherwise, we have agreed on all issues, including that bargaining unit faculty will be represented on the Safety Advisory Committee and that the Committee will develop a comprehensive violence prevention program.

 

NTTF Review and Promotion

Our discussion of the NTTF Review and Promotion policy, like that on Facilities, was full of agreement with only two areas of discord. To review, we have agreed that the “up-or-out” system for Career NTTF will be abolished and promotion will be optional, save for Librarians (more on that in a moment). The review and promotion process for NTTF will be developed by faculty, and faculty-driven. Your bargaining team and the university administration have also agreed that NTTF reviews and promotions will involve a faculty review committee, not just administrative personnel. There will also be a clear appeals process for denied promotion. 

We have not reached agreement, however, on who should be eligible for promotion. The University Administration has proposed that only Career NTTF who have worked 18 consecutive terms at .50 FTE or greater should be eligible. Today we proposed that any Career NTTF who has worked 6 years and averaged .33 FTE or greater should be eligible. There was some general, friendly, discussion of how our proposal might be implemented, the benefits and pitfalls, and the relative merits of the two proposals.

 

NTTF Review and Promotion – Librarians

We have also not reached agreement on the need to keep Career NTTF Librarians in the “up-or-out” system. Both parties found each other’s arguments less than compelling. The Library Council wants “up-or-out” to stay in place. Most of the Librarians we have talked to want to end “up-or-out” and have the same policy as the other career NTTFs at the University.  The discussion ended with both sides reaffirming their positions: management wants the policy, the union does not. We have agreed to keep exchanging proposals on the issue.

 

Shared Governance

We had a difficult discussion over Shared Governance. The University Administration continues to ignore the will of the University Senate and reject both our proposal and the idea that shared governance is enshrined in the Constitution of the University of Oregon. Instead, the University Administration informed us that, thanks to the newly established independent governing board, it is a “whole new world” for shared governance on campus. According to the statute passed by the Oregon Legislature, the Board of Trustees has the sole authority to “establish, supervise, and control academic and other programs, units of operation and standards, qualifications, policies and practices relating to university matters such as admissions, curriculum, grading, student conduct, credits, scholarships and granting of academic degrees, certificates, and other forms of recognition.”

Moreover, the University Administration informed us that, “the new Board of Trustees is the University.”

While we recognize that the University Administration is asserting no more control over the functions of the university than the law allows and that it is possible to argue that the “whole new world” of shared governance is merely the transfer of some rights formerly bestowed on the Board of Higher Education to the new Board of Trustees, we are deeply disturbed that this assertion of rights for the new Board is accompanied by a complete lack of acknowledgement of the essential, ongoing role of the Constitution and the University Senate. In fact, the University Administration was unable to speak to any future role for the Constitution or Senate.

We do understand that the future is unknown and that the University Administration is hesitant to lock commit Presidents and future Boards of Trustees to positions that they might not prefer, but the University Administration also asserted throughout their presentation that their proposal was merely acknowledging the “concept” of shared governance and any violations of the concept of shared governance would be strictly ungrievable. We are disturbed that the University Administration goes so far as to refuse to even mention the Constitution and the Senate in a non-binding “concept” statement of shared governance principles.

The University Administration’s team asserted several times that the new shared governance on our campus is embodied in the one (possibly non-voting) faculty member of the new Board of Trustees. According to them, this means that the faculty will now have a “real say” in the running of the university, and—regardless of the Constitution or Senate—will somehow, through that single person, be the faculty voice in shared governance.

We anticipate counter-proposing next week with strong language about the proper role of both the Constitution and the Senate.

 

Academic Freedom

The University Administration’s proposal on Academic Freedom raised similar concerns. Under the proposal, faculty would have the right to say and do what they felt necessary both in teaching and research, but there was also a lot of language specifying how faculty should conduct themselves and proposed limits on what they should say. Their proposal even deleted union-proposed language confirming the right of faculty to critique university policies. We still have many questions around the proposal, particularly the intersection of academic freedom, first-amendment rights, and discipline. We will be returning to this bedrock issue next week.

 

More to come

We meet again today (July 23) and tomorrow (July 24) from 9 am to 4 pm in Library 122. The University Administration has promised to bring their complete package of economic proposals after we discuss our proposal on the Promotion and Tenure Review process. Please join us; you are welcome at any time for however long you can participate.

Bargaining Update & Reminder: More Negotiations Tomorrow

REMINDER: Please make time to attend negotiations tomorrow (Tuesday, 7/16) any time between 9am and 4pm in 122 Knight Library!  Your presence is critical to negotiating a strong first agreement with the UO Administration.

Bargaining Update from July 10, 2013

In our second bargaining session of the summer we again made progress and are close to agreement on several proposals (pending resolution of the “what will we call the administration?” question). We have significant differences on other issues and are still waiting for the administration’s response to our last economic counter-proposal presented on June 6th.

We successfully persuaded the administration to hear our concerns about their proposed Criminal Backgrounds Check policy.  They dropped their proposed requirement that faculty must report an arrest or a charge to the administration. They had also proposed a broader scope for criminal background checks than the law requires. The administration has now agreed to limit the scope in line with state and federal laws.

In regards to Article 36: No Strike, No Lockout, we have argued for months that faculty should not be required to do the work of other striking employees. The administration has agreed to change their position to one where faculty can be consulted on how certain work will be performed in the event that another union goes on strike, and they also agreed that they will consider a serious ethical concern from a faculty member a reasonable basis on which to decline such work.  Any duties a faculty member performs above his/her regularly assigned responsibilities will be considered overload.

The administration accepted most of our last proposal on summer session and agreed that faculty in departments will develop summer session policies that will include course cancellation policies.

In discussing past practices and policies, we had proposed that the CBA recognize the University Policy Library as the repository of current policies, consistent with the Senate’s “policy on policies.”  The administration surprised us by deleting this reference because, they said, it is a “work-in-progress” and not always up to date. Nevertheless, the administration agreed with the substance of our proposal that the contract would recognize all “duly approved” policies of the UO Board, OUS, and the University, as well as all published unit-level policies.  This article does not “freeze” policies, but provides present policies as a starting point to be revised as needed through the Senate, department policy development and so on.  Existing practices will also continue under certain conditions so long as they are recognized as long standing practices and do not conflict with the contract or approved university policies.  

While the Union agreed with the administration that arbitrators should not be able to overturn academic judgments of the sort involved in contract renewal, tenure, and promotion, the Union held that arbitrators should be able to evaluate such processes for mistakes of procedure, instances of discrimination, and other actions that undermine academic judgment, and then be duly empowered to propose appropriate remedies. We are close to coming to an agreement on this process, but will wait to see the administration’s counter proposal on their forthcoming Tenure and Promotion Denial Grievance Process. 

We still have significant disagreements on the following issues:

Acceptable Use of University Information Assets.  The administration amended their original proposal on Acceptable Use of University Information Assets with fewer changes than we had hoped.  They define “Information Assets” as all computer systems, hardware, software, networks, internet access, platforms and devices, and any files or information stored on them and claim that all such information belongs exclusively to the University of Oregon. This despite obvious cases where software on University systems is licensed to individual faculty members (apparently including iTunes files). They reserve the right to withdraw access to these assets at any time and want to prohibit any non-work-related hosting of websites and posting to internet groups or list serves.  Further, they want to monitor Information Assets for any work-related reasons, including monitoring on a random basis if they choose. At the table, the administration stated that they could use the information gleaned from their monitoring for other purposes, including discipline.  They are also seeking to prohibit Peer-to-Peer file sharing that is not work related. They backed off precluding any encryption of data without the permission of the Provost when it was pointed out that encryption is necessary, and often mandated, to protect human subject data.

Your bargaining team presented a counter-proposal that removed files and information from the definition of Information Assets and restored some expectation of privacy for personal information stored on work systems.  This is an area where the relevant laws are in flux but also where a carefully crafted article must recognize the realities of modern computer use.  It is difficult to return to a world where there is a clear line between work stations and personal computers.  We also do not believe that bargaining unit faculty should be subject to any rules regarding information assets that are not uniformly applied to all other campus constituencies. We will continue to push back on the broad claim of university ownership of data, for example in Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements.

Facilities and Support.  In regards to Article 34: Facilities and Support, we were left once again wondering about budgetary priorities on this campus. The administration’s counter-proposal deleted the line “Assigned classrooms shall be adequate to accommodate the number of students enrolled in a course.” Their position is that, given the perennial financial limitations on their ability to make improvements to the campus infrastructure, they cannot promise better conditions for faculty or students. Therefore, they contend it is not appropriate to commit to adequate classroom space in a collective bargaining agreement. We are very concerned that too many of us teach classes in rooms too small for the number of students enrolled—rooms that afford little space for teaching and even cases in which students have to sit in the aisles. We all agree that enrollments are higher than ever and classroom space is tight, which is why we want to work together to find adequate space – but they won’t do it. We think this contract is exactly the place where we should commit to adequate facilities for purposes so central to our core mission. Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions. Unwillingness to commit to this suggests they resist revising how they use campus space, including in collective bargaining with the university’s own faculty union.

Our bargaining session ended with a plan for addressing the remaining proposals and a process for those areas where we are close to an agreement. We “strongly encouraged” the administration to respond to our economic counter-proposal at the next session, July 16th, so that we have time to fully prepare a response.  Both sides affirmed at the table that they are committed to finishing this contract this summer. Your continued support will be invaluable in making this happen – please do come for part or all of an upcoming bargaining session. Thanks and we hope to see you soon.

Next Session: July 16, 9:00-4:00, room 122 Knight Library

Bargaining Tomorrow!

Your bargaining team will be at the negotiating table with the University Administration’s representatives TOMORROW from 9am – 4pm, 122 Knight Library.  

All faculty are welcome and encouraged to attend – even if just for a short time.  Help support your faculty negotiating team as they continue working to reach agreement on a first contract!

If you’re unable to attend tomorrow, please mark your calendars for NEXT TUESDAY, July 16.  Your negotiating team will be back at the table from 9am-4pm in 122 Knight Library.