by AAUP National
On March 16, 2021, the AAUP submitted an amicus brief in the Oregon Court of Appeals explaining that “shared governance” did not protect an administration’s distribution of material violating Oregon’s union neutrality law. The appeal arose from an Oregon Employment Relations Board decision finding that Oregon State University had violated a state law requiring neutrality in union organizing drives by authoring FAQs and distributing them to faculty. The university and an amicus brief submitted in support of its case argued that the FAQs were protected by shared governance. The AAUP amicus brief explains the importance of shared governance, that it establishes a system for faculty participation in shared decision making, and that the university FAQs did not constitute shared governance.
The case arose from a decision of the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB) finding that Oregon State University committed an unfair labor practice (“ULP”) by authoring and distributing FAQs to OSU employees. Based on a ULP filed by United Academics of Oregon State University, a collective bargaining chapter of the AAUP, the ERB found that the university’s FAQs violated OSU’s statutory obligation of neutrality in union organizing drives. The ERB’s factual findings describe OSU’s conduct of writing many of the questions, including the initial set of twenty-seven questions and some subsequent questions, while presenting them as faculty-initiated questions; soliciting faculty questions; and making substantive edits in questions that the OSU administration received from faculty but failing to disclose that the administration had made such changes. Further, the ERB’s findings reveal that the OSU administration’s manipulation of the questions and responses advanced a position against unionization. Therefore, the ERB found that OSU had violated the Oregon neutrality statute and committed a ULP.