Negotiations between Oregon Institute of Technology’s (Oregon Tech) administration and faculty union (Oregon Tech American Association of University Professors (OT-AAUP)) have stalled. As a result, the university is declaring an impasse in the negotiations.
Despite 16 months of negotiations with the faculty union, only 48% of the articles to be included in the union contract have been resolved. In addition, the faculty union recently proposed an estimated 20% increase in cost for salaries in 2021, plus additional increases over the next two years. According to the faculty union, the initial pay increase would be approximately $2.5 million compounded yearly with an additional $250,000 in 2022 and 2023 bringing the three-year (additional) cost to the University to approximately $9 million. Such an increase is unrealistic, even in the best of times, and displays a lack of situational awareness on the part of the faculty union when proposed during a pandemic and with uncertainty in state funding. Accepting this proposal would result in significant tuition increases for our students, a deficit budget for our university, possible reductions in programs and staffing, or a combination of these.
Declaring an impasse does not end negotiations—only a negotiated agreement does. Rather, the impasse is a means to refocus negotiations. Oregon Tech is committed to working with the faculty union in a focused manner that yields a negotiated agreement soon and has been working toward that goal since the end of 2019. Oregon Tech’s goal is to achieve its first five-year labor contract that is both sustainable for the future and meets the interests of the students, the faculty union, Oregon Tech, and the larger Oregon Tech community.
“The lack of progress from the union is very concerning and left us with little choice but to declare an impasse so that both parties can move forward with their final offers,” said Oregon Tech President Dr. Nagi Naganathan. “Oregon Tech has not witnessed any significant movement by the faculty union in the last four mediation sessions and feels the best way to move the negotiations forward is to declare an impasse. It is our hope that such a declaration provides the union the necessary catalyst to focus on negotiations toward resolution.”
“Serving students is our highest priority,” said Dr. Naganathan. “We have a deep respect for the work of Oregon Tech faculty, but at its base, the proposals from OT-AAUP would have a substantial negative impact on Oregon Tech students and the greater Oregon Tech community.”
Naganathan added, “At a time when other universities are facing program reductions, layoffs, and some even closing their doors due to the magnitude of the pandemic’s economic effect, we have to make sure that Oregon Tech remains vibrant and strong, while assuring access and success for all of our students. It is imperative that both sides continue talking to come to a positive resolution soon.”
Information regarding negotiations is regularly updated and posted at www.oit.edu/faculty-staff/faculty-union-bargaining.####