KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- The Oregon Institute of Technology's senior leadership and faculty union have reached a tentative agreement on an inaugural contract. This comes after over a year of negotiations between both sides and an unprecedented faculty strike that began last Monday.
OIT leaders and the faculty union agreed on the five-year contract early Tuesday morning. OIT officials said that inaugural contracts are known to take a long time to come to fruition.
Tentative agreements were reached on all remaining proposals including salary.
An Oregon Tech spokesperson said that OIT offered a guaranteed 11.5 percent increase over the life of the contract, with an additional 3.5 percent possible through merit increases.
It also includes healthcare, in which Oregon Tech will pay nearly 100 percent of healthcare costs.
Officials said that both parties agreed to new workload expectations which will allow faculty to spend more time with students and in the classroom. The union, Oregon Tech - AAUP, said that the faculty's right to bargain over future workload changes is also protected in the contract.
"This was a long and arduous process, but the end result will prove worthy of the time and effort expended," said Dr. Ken Fincher, OIT's vice president of Institutional Advancement. "At times our community was pulled in different directions over the faculty union strike and the labor negotiations. Now it is time for us to unite and speak in one voice in support of Oregon Tech."
The tentative contract still must go through a ratification process, Oregon Tech - AAUP said, where union members will vote on whether to accept the final contract.
“We could not have done it without faculty, students, and community supporters far and wide showing up to the lines — both physical and digital — in solidarity with the faculty of Oregon Tech-AAUP,” said Kari Lundgren, associate professor in the communication department and OT-AAUP spokesperson. “We are immensely grateful for their generosity and spirit.”
OIT faculty are expected to return to work on Wednesday, and union officials said that they are eager to get back into classrooms.
“I teach proposal writing, and my students have definitely gotten a great look at how one kind of proposal works over the last 45 days,” said Matt Frye, assistant professor in the Communication Department.