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Southern Oregon University faculty contract negotiations break off

FILE-- Southern Oregon University Friday, December 4th, 2015. (KTVL/Ariana Rakhshani)

ASHLAND, Ore.-- New contract negotiations between Southern Oregon University administration and the SOU faculty union Association of Professors, Southern Oregon University have broken off, according to a letter from the faculty union.

The union says negotiations broke down over a salary issue. The letter states that negotiations began in June.

A mediation has been scheduled for late December or early January that will be facilitated by the Oregon Employment Relations Board. The letter says that if after a cooling off period the administration decided to implement their final offer, the faculty would vote to strike.

"I'm quite sure most faculty would not prefer to strike," APSOU chief negotiator Kemble Yates said. "But our members are telling us that we need a much better contract after what we've endured for the last two years."

SOU administration hopes to resolve the dispute.

"The university does not usually comment on these issues," Ryan Brown with Southern Oregon University said. "But we are moving forward with negotiations and hope to reach a fair settlement with students and the university's financial future in mind."

If a strike were to occur, Brown said that SOU has a plan in place to ensure vital services continue.

In addition to salary, the letter states that the union worries about workload issues related to the increase in student enrollment and the replacement of regular faculty with temporary faculty.

SOU has seen record enrollment in the past year.

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