Faculty unionize at OSU and OIT

OSU profs Darrell Ross and Aurora Sherman turn in union cards June 5.

Faculty at Oregon State University (OSU) and Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) are going union. On June 5, union campaigns at both universities delivered union authorization cards to the Oregon Employment Relations Board.

The two schools were the last public universities in Oregon where faculty were not yet unionized. Under Oregon law, public employees unionize once a majority of a proposed bargaining unit signs cards.

At OIT the unit is 172 full-time faculty, instructors and librarians. They’ll be members of American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

At OSU, it’s 2,400 faculty in all departments and campuses. They’ll be members of United Academics of Oregon State University, a joint project of AAUP and American Federation of Teachers (AFT). AFT already represents graduate students at OSU, while support staff there are represented by SEIU Local 503. The union campaign among OSU faculty, years in the making, has been collecting cards since February.

Union organizing committee member Darrell Ross says OSU faculty are unionizing to win a greater say in university governance and to secure better working conditions. In his 27 years as an entomologist in the OSU College of Forestry, Ross says he’s seen steady deterioration in faculty working conditions.

“There’s increasing reliance on contingent faculty who work in contracts of at most one year,” Ross said. “They have little job security, they’re not paid well, and they often don’t know until the last minute if they’ll have their contracts renewed.”

During the campaign, OSU faculty heard from academics at UO and Rutgers about how unions halted that slide and improved job security.   

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