Update from the Chair of Grievances and Contract Administration

A message from the Chair of Grievance and Contract Administration

I hope that people have been tuning into bargaining sessions over the last few months as there are proposals that will directly affect many aspects of our working conditions. While the negotiations have occupied a significant part of our time and energies, we have also been able to advocate for faculty in a variety of ways not related to our new CBA, and we wanted to take the opportunity to remind you that you can reach out to us with any issue, great or small. In addition to having informal conversations with over 100 faculty members about their concerns this academic year, we have also consulted with and assisted faculty members in review and promotion processes, situations related to material working conditions, navigating leaves, and have focused attention on pay inequities - particularly in the context of the recently enacted Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2021.

Many of you are undoubtedly aware of the Oregon Equal Pay Act, which proposes to ensure equal pay for what is deemed “substantially similar” work, in an effort to remedy historical inequities in compensation that continue to persist today. The University of Oregon has charged the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance (OICRC) with the task of responding to faculty members that contend they are experiencing pay inequity. External to the University, the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) is charged at the state level to hear claims of pay inequities and conducts their own process to determine if the appeal is valid. The bona fide factors to be considered for the OEPA are any seniority or merit system, quantity and quality of production, education, and experience. While these factors were not necessarily created with Academia in mind, some map on well to the criteria examined in faculty evaluations and both the OICRC and BOLI compare faculty considered to work in similar areas, according to these bona fides. We have consulted, upon request, with faculty members engaged in both the internal and external investigations. Both processes have proved to be lengthy, ranging from several months to over a year, as both the OICRC and BOLI have been charged with overseeing the processes without significant additional support to do so.

We have also had conversations with the Administration recently over the “pay-freeze” that was instituted at the beginning of the pandemic. The term is in quotes, because there was never a blanket pay-freeze at the university. In the research world there were, and are, certain changes that can precipitate a change in compensation, particularly an expansion of duties for a faculty member. Faculty members must have a new position description that is examined by Human Resources (as well as managers and PIs) to determine if an adjustment of salary is warranted. We have had cases brought to us where that process has not played out ideally, and we are working with those faculty members to resolve the issue. We have also been assured by the Administration that there are other avenues to seek redress to pay inequities, through advocacy to the Provost’s Office by members’ department heads and deans. They also maintain that review and promotion processes are an opportune time to remedy such inequities and that they have done so in the past. Undoubtedly, this has occurred for some faculty members, and we hope that the Provost’s Office takes such opportunities, but we know that pay disparities continue to exist among units and we will continue to have conversations with Administration, with our legal counsel, and with our members about these issues as they evolve.

Once again, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, your Chair of the Grievance and Contract Administration Committee, any of our Vice Presidents, or our wonderful staff, with any question or concern you may have. We will try to assist you in any way we can.

In Solidarity,

Nathan Whalen
Chair of Grievance and Contract Administration


This Friday's Bargaining Session

This Friday, the administration is bringing a number of proposals with financial impacts for faculty to the table. This is a very important bargaining session - please support our union's efforts by attending bargaining on Zoom.


Lane County Labor '22 Day of Action

Saturday, April 23 at 10am is an opportunity to meet and join Christina Stephenson, candidate for Oregon Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries, County Commissioners Joe Berney and Heather Buch, and Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor as they kick off for a big ole' fashioned Labor Walk! They will be talking to union members and primary voters.