OU and AAUP withdraw unfair labor practice charges


Sophie Hume

A view of OU AAUP supporters picketing during the job action that disrupted the start of the 2021 fall semester.

It was announced on Sept. 30 the Oakland University administration and OU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have both withdrawn their pending Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges.

The full joint statement is as follows:

“In an effort to foster administration-faculty relations, Oakland University and the AAUP have each agreed to withdraw their pending unfair labor practice charges. In addition, in an effort to enhance financial transparency, Oakland University and the AAUP have agreed upon a schedule for Oakland University to annually provide the AAUP with both preliminary and final medical insurance rate information.”

This news comes roughly seven months after both parties initially filed charges against each other relating to the faculty contract negotiations that took place at the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester.

OU-AAUP’s charge against the university related to bad-faith bargaining, stating important information regarding healthcare costs was known by OU but was withheld during the negotiation process. The university’s charge accused the AAUP of instituting an illegal strike at the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester.

With one of the issues previously stated between the university and the AAUP being transparency, the annual schedule to discuss medical insurance rate information seems to be trying to address those concerns.

“The AAUP hopes that this agreement will improve financial transparency and reduce the possibility of conflict in the next negotiation cycle,” OU AAUP President Karen Miller said.

Miller has been prevalent in the negotiations and accusations of bad faith bargaining, with letters being sent to President Ora Pescovitz and Board of Trustees members in the past revolving around these issues. 

Executive Director of OU-AAUP Amy Pollard said they are pleased with the outcome.

“Health insurance benefits always play a major role in contract negotiations, and last year was no exception,” Pollard said. “The mediation outcome means that from this point forward, Oakland commits to routinely (annually) providing critical medical rate information to the AAUP on a timely basis.”

“Regular access to this information will allow us to better serve and advocate for our membership,” she added.

Healthcare costs had increased in almost every category from 2021 to 2022, and followed a trend of increasing costs like tuition and room and board costs, which went up this past summer.

OU Vice President for Human Resources Joi Cunningham provided a comment on behalf of the administration.

“We are pleased that everyone saw the benefit in working together for the betterment of our faculty, students and campus community and therefore decided to withdraw their respective unfair labor practice charges,” she said. “The administration and AAUP plan to work together to strengthen our communication efforts going forward, and will work to build a growing level of trust and transparency.”

Earlier this year, Pescovitz hosted the OU Forward event, which appeared to be a way to help ease previous tensions and make amends with the faculty and staff affected by these negotiations. The event and this statement are potential signs of a changing relationship between administration and the AAUP.