We have an important AFT-Oregon announcement and a few updates.
AFT-Oregon Referendum Vote
Over the next few weeks, United Academics’ members will receive postcard ballots from AFT Oregon, one of our state affiliates, to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment allowing for hybrid AFT-Oregon conventions. The UA Executive Council encourages you to vote in support of the referendum. Geographic distance and the costs of travel and lodging have long been significant barriers to participating in conventions for too many locals and their representatives. Hybrid modality will ensure a more inclusive, accessible, and transparent convention for all the members of AFT-Oregon across the state.
You can learn more about the proposal at AFT-Oregon's site.
The three main supports for caregiving that we won in the new CBA are: (1) access to Care.com, (2) an annual travel support fund of $150,000 (both of these outlined in Article 34), and (3) the one-time Childcare Community Partnership Investment Fund (detailed in Implementation Agreement #5).
As announced in an email from Chief Human Resources Officer Mark Schmelz on Dec 8, UO employees now have access to Care.com as a tool to help find caregiving solutions for their families. This page has details, instructions, and a link to enroll in Care.com.
The travel support fund for faculty is also now available. This site has details on the use of the fund and a link to the application form.
NOTE: Retroactive requests may be made for university travel that took place between September 16, 2022, and December 1, 2022.
The Childcare Community Partnership Investment Fund is a one-time pool of $500,000 that is to be used to help defray start-up costs or other one-time costs to expand the capacity of childcare facilities in the community, with a minimum of 40% of new spaces reserved for children of UO employees. There have been initial discussions on potential uses of the fund, which could be spread across multiple projects. The next steps are to determine the specific childcare priorities this fund would seek to address and to generate requests for proposals. The work will continue in the new term.
Paid Leave Oregon
The Paid Leave Oregon program, established by a new state law, requires employers to withhold up to 0.6% of their employees’ earnings starting in January 2023 (as well as an employer contribution of 0.4%), with benefits available starting in September 2023.
Employers in Oregon have the option to participate in the state plan or in an equivalent plan–run internally or by a third party. Any equivalent plan would need to meet or exceed the benefits established in the state plan. The administration announced on November 18 that the University of Oregon intends to use an equivalent plan administered by Standard Insurance, with both the benefits and the withholding of income beginning in September 2023.
Since the proposed implementation of this law would materially affect our pay and working conditions, UA and the GTFF sent a joint request to the UO administration to enter into impact bargaining. (The SEIU locals at each of the seven public universities in Oregon are negotiating collectively.) Bargaining on this issue will run until mid-February (unless extended).
Mindful of the inflationary environment and the insufficiency of our recent raises to keep pace, we will push for the institution to pick up the employee contributions. As presaged in Implementation Agreement #4 of the CBA, we will also discuss the use of a sick leave pool to augment the benefits of the state plan (such as income replacement).
Tenure Reduction Plan
UA representatives met multiple times with the administration late in the fall term on the potential changes to Article 31 and the Tenure Reduction Plan.
Guided by the feedback on this survey and at our informational sessions during Week 7 and Week 8, we made it clear to the administration that their proposal for Article 31 from June 2022 was broadly unacceptable and unlikely to prevail in the ratification vote scheduled in the CBA for January 2023.
Our discussions since then have been frank and productive. The administration has been forthcoming with relevant data on recent retirements, and they have taken the time to explain their models and forecasts in detail. More importantly, they have been receptive to our critiques of their assumptions and the scope of their costing models. It is clear that we have effectively conveyed the concerns that our members have raised, such as–for many faculty–the paramount importance of health care coverage as they contemplate the timing of their retirement.
We have made good progress in our meetings, and each party is keen to see if we might be able to rework Article 31 and TRP in ways that would be acceptable to both the administration and UA members.
Rather than put the administration’s proposal from June to a vote in January as initially planned, we have formally agreed to extend our discussions for two months.
The new deadline for an MOU on Article 31 is February 20, 2023, with a vote of the UA membership to take place during March 2023. As before, a “no” vote would keep the existing language of Article 31 in place.
There will be more details and updates on each of these issues–and others as well–over the weeks and months to come. If you have any questions or would like to offer your help in any of these endeavors please send us an email at [email protected].
In closing, I want to note that today’s solstice marks the beginning of longer and brighter days. May that be figuratively true for all of us as well.
Enjoy the break, wherever and however it may find you. Happy holidays!
I look forward to seeing you in the new year and in the new term. 🙂
Senior Instructor, Economics
President, United Academics of the University of Oregon
AAUP/AFT Local 3209, AFL-CIO