Over the past year, the faculty union of Southern Oregon University has been negotiating the cuts in pay for faculty staff. There was no raise given to any faculty members for the 2021-2022 school year, with an increase in salary of 3% for administrators and staff.
The faculty union started mediation with administrators on March 7, 2022. Those talks went on for 15 days before an impasse was declared on March 22, 2022. According to Associated Professors of Southern Oregon University (APSOU) President Donna Lane, who has been a professor for 22 years, the union negotiated for over 150 days and offered administration their lowest offer which was refused. This resulted in the impasse, which had never been declared before, making it “a pretty sad day” according to Lane.
This impasse incited a 30 day period where both parties could make offers and negotiate until an extreme vote had to be taken. If they did not reach an agreement in the next 30 days, the faculty union would take a vote on whether or not it was time to strike.
Luckily for SOU students and faculty members, the strike was never voted on. On March 28, 2022 Southern Oregon University faculty and administration negotiators reached a tentative agreement on terms that, “effectively presents a potential contract,” according to the union. This agreement was not what anyone fully wanted, but it was enough for them to live with for the next four years. According to Lane, administrators agreed to the faculty’s final offer:
There will be no raise for senior faculty this year, but a 2.5% next year, and 2% raises in each of the next two years of the four-year contract.
This was something that faculty could agree to as well as administrators. Faculty conceded a bit with their salaries and administrators conceded a bit with the workload they were assigning to the faculty. With the strike vote looming over their heads, Lane stated “Nobody wins at that point, so we’re glad that we didn’t get to that,” in regards to the strike.
The Siskiyou wanted a close perspective through the eyes of a faculty member and interviewed Humanities professor Edwin Battistella. Mr. Battistella stated the following:
In response to the the possibility of the strike and the effects it could have had on the school in regards to the students and faculty, Battistella stated, “I think everyone was glad that we managed to avoid a strike, which would have been disruptive and disheartening for students, faculty and staff at all levels. I think the entire campus is glad that we can turn our attention to other things for a while.”
The Siskiyou also asked Mr. Battistella about his own personal feelings about the new four-year contract that was signed, and he responded that “I voted for the agreement. Neither group got everything they were hoping for, and both made concessions. That is the nature of bargaining. The end result was a reasonable compromise after nearly a year of protracted bargaining.”