December 12, 2012
Barbara Altmann, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of French
The University of Oregon began negotiating a first contract with the new faculty union, United Academics (UA), in November. As the University’s designated spokesperson, I’ll be providing regular updates on the status of the contract talks to help keep everyone informed throughout the entire process.
The bargaining teams met on November 20 to establish ground rules and agreed, among other things, that the union would present a series of non-economic proposals at the initial meetings. The first two half-day sessions are scheduled December 13 and 14 in the Knight Library Collaboration Center, Room 122. The university is represented by Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Doug Blandy; Tim Gleason, dean of the School of Journalism and Communication; and chief negotiator Sharon Rudnick of the Eugene law firm Harrang Long Gray Rudnick P.C. General Counsel Randy Geller is an adjunct to the UO team.
The university and organized labor have always bargained together fairly and I believe we will continue to do so. UA represents roughly 1,800 faculty members in many different categories, so this may be a complex first negotiation. I’m happy to report we’ve begun in a spirit of cooperation and professional collaboration. The first contract establishes the basis for any future labor agreements with faculty. It also clarifies and codifies the university’s faculty employment practices and reinforces our standards of excellence.
There are myriad issues to work through, but the biggest topics of discussion will probably involve compensation (including salary, benefits and related items), tenure and promotion, and working conditions/workload. This early on, we can’t know when a contract will be finalized. The important thing is to do it right and shape a responsible agreement everyone can live with.
The University has three basic goals for the negotiations:
1. We need to continue to enhance the university’s attractiveness to current and future students, faculty and staff. Also, we must remain a valued partner to alumni, supporters, donors and the Oregon community at large.
2. We want to encourage and reward the highest-quality teaching, research and community service. Students should expect nothing less of us.
3. We must maintain a solid and sustainable financial structure.
The bargaining teams set the schedule and locations for the talks and, under Oregon’s Open Meeting Law, anyone can observe the sessions. We trust that all attendees will allow the teams to conduct their important work at the table without distraction.
The University seeks to have an open and productive relationship with United Academics. Now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure the UO maintains its well-earned reputation and commitment to academic excellence.
If you have any questions about the contract negotiations, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 346-2172.