Oregon Tech faculty union votes to authorize strike

KLAMATH FALLS — The Oregon Institute of Technology’s faculty union voted this week to authorize a strike.

The vote last week comes more than 500 days after negotiations began between the union and school administration, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Oregon Tech’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors is seeking salary increases and more clearly defined workload limits, among other requests.

The union said as of Friday, April 2, 96% of faculty had cast their votes, and 92% of those votes were in favor of authorizing a strike.

It is not guaranteed that the faculty will strike, but union leadership can now call for one if an agreement isn’t reached.

If a strike happens, it would be the first-ever faculty strike at an Oregon public university. Portland State’s faculty union voted to authorize a strike in 2014, but then reached a deal. Eastern Oregon’s faculty union similarly came close to striking in 2006.

University officials said both parties last met on Thursday and are scheduled to meet again Monday. The faculty union also said negotiations would continue.

Photographer: Mayor should denounce police protest actions

PORTLAND — An independent photographer who said she was assaulted by Portland police during protests received a $50,000 settlement, which her lawyers say is the biggest following the city’s racial justice protests.

Teri Jacobs is now calling on Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to denounce the police force and their actions toward press and protesters, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Jacobs, who won the settlement in February, released an open letter to Wheeler this week, calling for him to condemn the officers who have been violent to protesters.

A spokesperson for Wheeler’s office said they had not previously been aware of the letter.

“Police are consistently assaulting and hurting humans, and that doesn’t seem to bother the mayor,” Jacobs told the newspaper. “It seems like property is the only thing he’s concerned about.”

The Oregon Justice Resource Center, which represented Jacobs, said she was photographing an Aug. 18, 2020, protest with a visible press pass when police ordered people to disperse.

The Oregon Justice Resource Center said Jacobs was trying to leave when a police officer ran after Jacobs, hit her on the back of her head, neck and back with a stick, then knocked her down and hit her in the face.

Jacobs’ lawyers said the incident was caught on camera and when the officer saw he was being filmed, he stopped hitting Jacobs and moved away.

Oregon lawmakers look at improving long-term care facilities

SALEM — Oregon lawmakers have been considering a bill to establish staffing ratios in long-term care facilities based on patient needs.

Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, who is the cosponsor of Senate Bill 714, said there’s not a one-size fits all approach, KLCC reported.

“Ultimately, this is about the residents that live in these facilities and their right to have dignified lives, to be safe, to be comfortable,” Gelser said. “For them to do that, they need to be supported by staff and staff are exhausted.”

Gelser said with the pandemic limiting family members’ access to care homes, staffing issues have become more apparent as often family would normally help out with care. She added staff need more training, support and pay.

Many of the staff who tried to unionize at the Rawlin Memory Care facility in Springfield have resigned, KLCC reported. Some are working to help make changes at the state level.

Summer Trosko was a med tech for 14 years, most recently at The Rawlin. She’s working with the Service Employees International Union to lobby for Senate Bills 714 and 703. SB 703, which Gelser also cosponsored, would require the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority to adopt quality metrics for caregiver registries, home health agencies, in-home care agencies and certain residential care facilities.

“They would change everything if we could get these passed,” Trosko said. “They’ll use an acuity based staffing tool where they’ll go by the acuity of the residents and decide how much staff we need based on their needs.”

— Associated Press

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