Bargaining Update for April 8, 2022

In our first session of Spring term, your UA team presented counter proposals on Articles 20 (Tenure Review and Promotion) and 21 (Review Decision Appeals).

The administration team presented counter proposals on Articles 12 (Facilities and Support), 15 (Academic Classification and Rank), and 16 (Notices of Appointment), and initial proposals on Articles 23 (Arbitration) and 29 (Retirement Benefits).

Administration Proposals

We kicked off the session with a brief return to Facilities and Support (Art. 12). We are close to agreement on this Article, with the remaining issue being faculty concerns around extreme temperatures in classrooms, labs, offices, and other workspaces. If you have had issues with temperature control in campus spaces and have not yet reported this to UA, please do so with this form – data collected will inform our response to this proposal.

As in past bargaining cycles, some of our most fundamental disagreements at the table revolve around working conditions and protections for Career and Limited Duration faculty. Several of these came to light in this session, including in the administration’s counter on Academic Classification and Rank (Art. 15). We are happy to report that admin agreed to the “Teaching Professor” category, despite having previously balked at attaching “Professor” to the titles of even our most accomplished Career faculty. Unfortunately, their acceptance of the title was not accompanied by any enhancements in job security, and their proposal instead reasserted their concept of an honorific program that is fully controlled by the Provost and lacks any faculty input or peer review.

The administration also rejected our proposal to modify the newly developed Research Assistant categories to provide more recognition of industry experience in the qualifications for positions. The administration also rejected our attempt to provide better job protections and longer minimum layoff notices for funding contingent faculty, both Career and limited duration.

We also see significant differences in Notices of Appointment (Art. 16), where the administration’s counter strikes both recall rights for laid-off Career faculty and a provision that would allow Career appointments to be guaranteed for a period beyond the required layoff notice period. Those kinds of guarantees would provide important security for faculty who choose to relocate for a position at UO, including partner hires.

Another fundamental area of disagreement centers on the role of faculty in making changes in academic programs that could lead to faculty layoffs. We proposed that changes in programs and pedagogy must be approved by faculty. The Administration counter proposal eliminated the requirement that changes in academic programs must be faculty-approved, arguing that such  “broadly-worded language” infringes on their management rights. We emphatically maintain that decisions about academic programs and pedagogy lie with department-level faculty and the Senate, and that this shared governance is absolutely central to the academy.

The administration’s two final proposals made small changes to Arbitration (Art. 23) and Retirement Benefits (Art. 29). The former would allow either UA or the administration to call an informal meeting between the parties prior to beginning an arbitration process. The latter is intended to reflect updates in state law.

Our Proposals

Our proposal for Article 20, we reasserted language emphasizing the importance of peer review in tenure decisions, and removed redundant language regarding the Provost’s role in granting tenure. We called (again) for the faculty in the College of Education and the Lundquist College of Business to create department-level tenure-track review criteria. We also proposed to require that the nascent School of Global Studies and Languages commit to maintaining department-level (rather than school-level) review criteria. We also reasserted that review clocks should stop by default when a faculty member goes on parental or medical leave, with the option to opt out if the faculty wishes to maintain their original timeline. There has been a great deal of confusion and poor communication around this, and we believe changing the default to the more logical alternative will alleviate many future issues.

We are still working on a number of other facets of review processes in this Article. Among our top priorities are ensuring that faculty receive timely notice on review decisions (we propose a May 15 deadline), that junior faculty have sufficient time to demonstrate improvement if they receive a negative mid-term review, and that student experience surveys are only considered as part of a review if there is a 40% response rate from a given course. We also continue to push for service in United Academics to be counted in reviews, as union leaders serve on countless university committees, shape policy, and contribute to our institution in other important ways.

The final topic of the day was Review Decision Appeals (Art. 21). We are nearing agreement on the role of the Tenure Track Review Appeals Committee (TTRAC) that will replace the current Promotion and Tenure Review Committee (PTRAC)  system and expand review decisions that can be appealed to include mid-term and promotion reviews.

Next Steps

This Spring, we are scheduled to bargain every other Friday (even weeks) from 9am to noon.

The administration team said they aim to present an economic package at our next session on 4/22. This should include their responses on Salary, Caregivers, and Professional Development articles.

Please be sure to join us on Zoom!