Contract agreement allows focus on students

SOU and faculty union agree to four-year contract

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University and its faculty union have come to terms on a new, four-year collective bargaining agreement. The contract is the result of a collaborative process that ultimately addressed faculty concerns related to pay equity and job security while also recognizing the university’s financial condition.

The university and Association of Professors of Southern Oregon University (APSOU) agree it is critical to now focus on the student academic experience.

“We all share a deep commitment to our students,” said Susan Walsh, SOU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This agreement allows us to move forward together in service to our students and the community.”

APSOU, the union that represents SOU faculty members, sent the contract to its members and it was ratified late last week.  The university and APSOU finalized their proposed agreement two weeks ago, following a declaration of impasse by the union.

Walsh – who has served the university for more than 30 years as professor, department chair and now SOU’s top academic administrator – joined the final stage of bargaining to urge unity. She said that all university employees – faculty, staff and administrators – have contributed in many ways to keep SOU financially viable despite enrollment declines, the region’s wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and an uneven economy.

“Our collective ability to deal with challenges often comes from the recognition that we must always keep what is best for our students at the center of all of our decisions,” Walsh said. “When it comes to a commitment to student success, there is no question that we are all on the same page.”

The new collective bargaining agreement starts with a 1 percent guaranteed minimum raise for the remainder of the current academic year. The contract provides for guaranteed minimum salary increases of 2.5 percent beginning next academic year, and then 2 percent for each of the two following years, as well as annual salary adjustments, based on years in rank, of as much as 2 percent. The university will continue to pay 95 to 97 percent of faculty members’ medical, dental, vision and life insurance benefits.

The agreement, which took effect upon ratification, will run through August 2025.

-SOU-