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Education

Faculty Taking Strike Vote In Impasse Over Labor Contract At Oregon Institute of Technology

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OIT/ Wikimedia Commons
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Faculty and administration at Oregon Institute of Technology have been butting heads for over a year on a new labor contract. Early this month, administration submitted what they called their best, last, and final offer in the arduous negotiation process.

Now, teaching staff is voting on whether to authorize what would be the first-ever faculty strike at an Oregon public university.

The OIT faculty union is demanding better pay, more affordable health insurance, and changes in faculty workload. After 15 months of ongoing back-and-forth, university administration submitted their “last, best, and final” offer.

Franny Howes, a faculty union board member, says she was disappointed.

“We’ve put forward a lot of proposals that we think are fair," said Howes. "We’ve made some concessions. But we’re still really far apart on the core issues of workload, salary, benefits, retrenchment, and other really important issues.”

Ken Fincher represents the university administration. He says that with the faculty’s unreasonable demands given the school budget, they were too far from understanding the administration's perspective.

“We’re in, hopefully, the end of a pandemic, but we’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic," said Fincher. "And admission in higher education is questionable. So to come and ask for a 20% salary increase is just unrealistic in so many ways.”

Fincher says that faculty’s requests would burden students with higher tuition.

But the union says it’s already difficult for students to have professors who are stretched too thin.

The union is currently voting on whether to go on strike. If the two parties can’t agree, a strike could begin as soon as April 17.