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Oregon Tech faculty strike ends

A faculty strike at the Oregon Institute of Technology came to an end early Tuesday morning.

The Oregon Tech chapter of the American Association of University Professors announced over social media early Tuesday it had reached a tentative agreement with university administration.

The union was entering its ninth day on strike when the agreement was reached.

“Thanks to your tireless efforts building solidarity and refusing to back down these past eight days, we are proud to announce that the bargaining team has reached a tentative agreement with the administration,” the union wrote on Facebook.

This is the first contract the union has reached at the school.

The union said the contract will allow faculty members to:

Kari Lundgren, associate professor of rhetoric and writing at OIT and faculty union secretary, said she was relieved the two parties could come to an agreement, according to reporting by Jefferson Public Radio.

The faculty union and university administration had been in negotiations for nearly 18 months.

“Maybe the tipping point was the fact that we went into our second week of strike, I don’t know. I mean, I think the strike was a crucial aspect of this because obviously, this was not a bargaining situation that was going the way it should … watching a whole week of us having increasing support was probably helpful in having the other side meet us a little bit more closely to what we were going for,” Lundgren said.

In a statement early Tuesday morning, Marcus Popiolek, OIT executive director of marketing, communications and public affairs, said the tentative agreement included a guaranteed 11.5% salary increase over the span of the five-year contract as well as a potential additional 3.5% increase through merit raises.

“This was a long and arduous process, but the end result will prove worthy of the time and effort expended,” OIT Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Ken Fincher, said in a statement. “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.”

Lundgren echoed those sentiments Tuesday in a conversation with OPB. She said it will take some time to rebuild relationships between faculty and administrators.

“I think faculty are feeling pretty bruised by a lot of the things that spokespeople from the university have said and a lot of things that haven’t been done to help morale over time,” Lundgren said. “I think it is going to be a long process. I don’t think suddenly everything is going to be fine — all the problems that existed before and the ways that senior administration behaved, they still happened, but we will hope for and work toward healing.”

Lundgren said the agreement will likely be ratified sometime over the next month. Once ratified, the contract will be in place through June 2025.

Jefferson Public Radio’s Holly Dillemuth contributed to this story.

Editor’s Note: this story was corrected to accurately attribute one of the quoted statements.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell