SOU faculty, administration reach tentative agreement on contract details

Southern Oregon University. SOU photo
March 29, 2022

Monday evening agreement averts strike vote; union membership will instead vote on ratification

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

Southern Oregon University faculty and administration negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on terms that, according to a union statement, “effectively presents a potential contract,” averting a vote on whether to strike that would have taken place in the next month had an agreement not been reached.

The agreement was reached on Monday evening, Ashland.news learned early Tuesday morning. Donna Lane, president of Associated Professors of Southern Oregon University (APSOU), said SOU addressed some of the inequities felt by some of the faculty during prior negotiations.

“We came to something everybody can live with on our salaries, not what we wanted but we are happy,” Lane said Tuesday morning.

“I think we’re good for the next four years,” she added.

Lane said SOU administration took the faculty’s final offer, which included adding a memorandum of understanding to develop a task force that addresses tenure.

“They realized we weren’t asking for the moon and that it was causing some relationship deterioration that nobody wanted to happen so they wanted to just stop it,” Lane said.

The final offer was no raise for senior faculty this year, 2.5% next year, and 2% raises in each of the next two years of the four-year contract, according to Sara Adams, a senior accounting instructor at SOU and a member of the union bargaining team.

“Both parties have agreed to MOUs which establish work-groups to explore language on curtailment and intellectual property,” Adams said in a written statement. “After months of challenge and frustration on both sides, SOU has accepted some of the most important articles in our contract.”

Adams said APSOU still has some remaining issues with professional-track faculty loading, but has come to an agreement they can live with for the next four years.

“We’re happy where we ended up given all the work and all of that,” Lane said. “We gave concessions (on) salaries and they gave concessions on workload issues.”

Lane said the faculty were the closest they’ve ever been to voting on a strike.

“We’ve never even been at impasse before,” she said. “Unfortunately we were within 30 days of taking a vote for a strike.”

She expressed relief, shared by many faculty union members, that an agreement has helped avoid a strike vote.

“Nobody wins at that point, so we’re glad that we didn’t get to that,” she said.

The tentative agreement will next be presented to the APSOU board for approval, according to Adams. Following that vote, APSOU will present the contract to its union membership for discussion and a ratification vote, which is “likely next week,” she said.

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

Update, 5 p.m. Tuesday: Additional comments and details added from union president and negotiator.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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