Employment Relations Board rules Oregon Tech faculty strike is legal

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
April 30, 2021 12:02 a.m.

The university filed a petition asking for the state agency to declare the strike unlawful last week

A state agency has affirmed that an ongoing faculty strike at the Oregon Institute of Technology is legal.

The Oregon Institute of Technology last week filed a petition with the state Employment Relations Board, asking the agency to declare a faculty strike unlawful.


The Employment Relations Board dismissed that petition Thursday.

“[A] majority of the Board agrees that dismissal of the petition is warranted at this time,” Oregon Employment Relations Board Chair Adam Rhynard wrote in a letter to attorneys representing Oregon Tech and the faculty union.

A cluster of people holding picket signs stand on a sidewalk near a building with a sign out front that reads "Oregon Institute of Technology."

Members and supporters of the Oregon Institute of Technology's faculty union, picketing in front of the school's Klamath Falls campus, Apr. 28, 2021.

Donald Orr / OPB

Rhynard wrote that a final order dismissing the petition, and explaining the reasons for the board’s decision, will be issued as soon as possible. He wrote that the final order will be appealable, if OIT chooses to appeal.

“Oregon Tech will review the decision carefully when it is issued,” an OIT spokesperson said. “We will take appropriate action at that time.”

“We feel that the amount of public resources spent on litigation and replacement workers could easily have gone toward uplifting Oregon Tech faculty and their service to students,” Christopher Syrnyk, an associate professor at OIT said in a statement. “Senior administration could end the strike today if they were willing and ready.”

OIT’s faculty union is on the fourth day of its strike. In a news release Thursday, the union said it will be continuing negotiations with the university Friday morning.

“We were confident in our ability to conduct a lawful strike and that this petition was a scare tactic,” Kari Lundgren, a spokesperson with the faculty union, said in a statement. “The decision today gives new assurances to faculty who have been on the picket line for four days.”

Negotiations will continue during the strike until an agreement is reached between the administration and the union.