Oregon Tech faculty begins strike, school continues classes where possible

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The faculty union at the Oregon Institute of Technology went on strike Monday morning, making it the first faculty to ever go on strike in Oregon.

The strike, organized through Oregon Tech – American Association of University Professors (OT-AAUP), said it’s demanding fair wages, secure benefits and a reasonable, clearly defined workload.

“We organized our union in record time,” said Mark Clar, professor of history and OT-AAUP past president. “I hope Oregon Tech’s senior administration is prepared to negotiate a similarly historic contract.”

The union said negotiations continued through the weekend but no deal was reached. Monday morning, the school said it would proceed with classes as usual.

“While it’s disappointing some faculty have chosen to walk away from their classes despite a generous offer from Oregon Tech,” the school said in a press release, “the university is prepared to continue operations with minimal disruption to classes or services.”

“Oregon Tech believes its salary offer, with the potential for faculty members to earn a 13 percent salary increase over the term of the contract, possibly more based on performance and promotion, is an excellent offer,” the statement said. “This figure includes a 9.5 percent salary increase over the same time period. This offer is made during a time of economic uncertainty and when many colleges and universities are slashing positions, dropping programs, with some closing altogether,” the university said.

In an email to students, Dean of Students Dr. Erin Foley said classes will be covered by full-time faculty who have chosen not to go on strike, part-time faculty, and other qualified instructors. The university said students should continue to attend classes unless notified otherwise by their department chair.

The union said bargaining will continue through the strike until an agreement is reached.

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