Bargaining Update

October 15, 2019 / Heather Nahmias

Friday, October 11, we bargained all day with PSU management. This was our eighth full day of bargaining. 

After a total of 60 hours of bargaining, we again have a few things to share — some good news, some cautious optimism, and concerns.

          We will meet PSU management again for a full day of bargaining on Friday October 25, in Smith 238.  As usual, we welcome your attendance. Come by anytime between 9-4, but especially between 11-1, which gives us a chance to share with you during our lunch break. Please RSVP.

The good news and cautious optimism first.

Bargaining is shaped by power, of course, but at the bargaining table, goodwill, good faith, honesty, and the general quality of the relationship between the parties are essential. Last week, we communicated the relationship was deteriorating, but on Friday we worked hard to improve the quality of our working relationship, and it is satisfying to report that we have repaired some of the lost trust.

This relationship work has been taxing and painstaking. We’ve spent the greater part of 15 hours on October 2 and October 11, working our way back to where we were on September 10. And much, if not all, that we did in those 15 hours was to clarify the essential framework of bargaining ground rules that we agreed to in July, and which, your AAUP team thought were clear. It is difficult to sustain any relationship, let alone bargain, when you are not sure if your partner understands and respects basic agreements. 

We hope all the time spent on relationship repair and clarification of our basic relationship agreements in the ground rules will pay off. 

Now the concerns.

Before we started bargaining on our new contract back in July, there were a number of important issues we were working on at the “interim table” with PSU management. The “interim table” is the bargaining on emergent issues that normally occurs during the lifetime of a collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, when we sit down to bargain a new collective bargaining agreement, there is typically unfinished business, and some of it is quite important to all of us. The five items of unfinished business that carried over into our bargaining are:

  1. Copyright Policy 

  2. Effects of Staff Reductions in Research and Graduate Studies

  3. Principal Investigators Eligibility and Responsibility Policies

  4. Effects of Reductions in Graduate Employees and Adjunct Faculty (on TT and NTT faculty)

  5. Academic Professional Faculty Transition to New Job Families and Career Tracks

PSU-AAUP believes there is a strong interest in bargaining and implementing these items of unfinished business, without having to wait until a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified (which could take 6-12 months). We are troubled that PSU management has communicated its unwillingness to expedite ratification and implementation on the last two items, in particular.

Academic Professional Faculty have been waiting since May, 2016 for a transparent and fair transition to new job families, and for a transparent and fair process for career advancement (Letter of Agreement in the 2016-19 Collective Bargaining Agreement). It is unconscionable, and a mystery to us, that PSU management would not want to implement this item of long-overdue unfinished business as soon as possible. PSU-AAUP is committed to continuing this conversation, and to holding management accountable to their word in the current CBA. 

Reductions in graduate employees, as teaching assistants and research assistants, significantly affects our everyday workload as TT and NTT faculty, and reduces the quality of education we can provide to our students. It also has a significant impact on opportunities for graduate students as well. We question how these cuts possibly reflect educational priorities.

With our relationship on better footing, we return to bargaining on October 25 optimistic about persuading the PSU management team that it is in our best shared interests not to delay work and implementation on these last two issues. 

Join us at bargaining on Friday October 25, in Smith 238, anytime between 9-4. If you come between 11-1, there will be an opportunity to share with your collective bargaining team during the lunch break. The agenda for October 25: 

1. Academic Professional Faculty transition to new job families

2. Flexible Schedules

3. Sabbatical Leaves

4. A continuation of the conversation around university finances and priorities 

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