The Oregon Tech faculty union could strike as soon as April 26 if no contract deal is reached by that date.
The union, the American Association of University Professors, submitted the required 10 day notice of a strike to the Oregon Employment Relations Board on Thursday, which meant the faculty could strike as soon as April 19. The union chose to allow an additional week for negotiating, according to an AAUP statement.
If the faculty does strike later this month, it would be the first faculty strike at a public university in Oregon history.
Student government presidents from both the Klamath Falls and Portland-Metro campuses addressed the board of trustees Thursday about their conversations with students who are concerned about the potential of a faculty strike. They spoke about students who want to walk out of classes in solidarity of a faculty strike, but encouraged students to attend the classes they pay for and are necessary for their degrees.
The union and university administration have been negotiating a three-year faculty contract for 16 months. An impasse in negotiations was declared in March.
The Oregon Tech AAUP formed in 2018. This is the first contract negotiation the union has undertaken.
Hours after the union declared its intent to strike, the board of trustees heard from faculty senate president Don McDonnell about his organization’s vote of no confidence in university president Nagi Naganathan’s leadership. 92 percent of faculty returned ballots and 92 percent of those were against Naganathan.
McDonnell pleaded with the board to turn over leadership after he said faculty exhausted all their options trying to resolve issues of understaffing, as well as feelings of being ignored and an administration’s disregard for shared governance.
“We’re working hard to educate and equip students with less support and fewer resources,” he told the Trustees on Thursday. “This is both demoralizing and dangerous for the health of our institution.”
In Naganathan’s report to the board, he referred to Oregon Tech as a family that has been under stress, especially from the pandemic.
“Some families, however caring they are, they have to go to some family counseling,” Naganathan said.
After about an hour-long executive session in which the trustees considered the faculty’s call for Naganathan’s removal, the meeting was recessed with no action taken Thursday.
The board will reconvene on April 20 at 9 a.m.