Promoting Quality Higher Education– An Investment in Oregon’s Future


Member Vote on EC Decision Opens November 29

November 23, 2021 / PSU-AAUP

Upon our return from Fall Break, voting will open on the ballot to either affirm or overturn the EC’s decision not to extend a new employment contract to ED Phil Lesch. You can find the ballot text at the bottom of this message if you would like to review it in advance. The EC encourages you to vote YES on the ballot to affirm the EC’s decision. 

We appreciated seeing many of you at our member meetings last week. For those who couldn’t make it, we wanted to recap some important points discussed by PSU-AAUP leadership and raised by members at these meetings.

1. What are the risks and perils of an uninformed vote for the organization?

The EC agrees with the concern raised by some members that there are serious long term ramifications of this vote. Because sound personnel decisions will always require confidentiality in the handling of personnel files, overturning this Executive Council decision sets a very dangerous precedent for the Executive Council’s ability to make personnel decisions, hold staff accountable, and fully function as a responsible employer.

It is clear that our Constitution was not written with a clear sight of our role as an employer, and this article has not been invoked in the memory of any current EC member (20 years+). We may need to update our constitution and bylaws to better support accountability in the future, and this is a top agenda item for PSU-AAUP to consider in the coming year. However, right now we have to to move forward with what is currently written in the constitution; to not do so would also put our union at risk. 

PSU-AAUP leadership thus asks you to trust your colleagues on the EC, whom you elected to represent our union and make decisions such as this. The EC encourages you to vote YES and affirm the EC’s decision on this matter.


2. How is PSU-AAUP preparing for the future?

  • We have identified multiple talented professionals who are available and interested in stepping in to form part of an interim structure to staff our needs in all areas over the next few months: administration, management, collective bargaining, grievances, communications, etc. The candidates we are considering for interim positions have decades of experience with unions, and higher ed unions in particular. We also have the support of AAUP OR and AAUP National as outlined in our member message last week.
  • Over the next few months we will be seeking broad-based input from all of our members as we conduct an evaluation of the structure of our staffing and decide what future staffing structure will best meet our needs, as well as how we might better involve members in the work of running the union and making decisions.
  • Searches for permanent replacement(s) will be conducted next year, and we will invite broad member feedback on the candidates.

In addition to the member vote, we also shared some information about the other things we are working on at the meeting. Two things of particular note: 

  • We are excited to begin the economic reopener process in the new year. As always, we will need your active engagement for the greatest successes, but we are pleased to be going back to the bargaining table at a time when the pandemic is receding and University and State budgets are on the upswing. PSU posted yet another surplus last year, and the state fully funded the higher education request for the current biennium.
  • Teaching ranks are coming! You can review this information from the 2020 Faculty Senate process if you want a refresher on what these are all about. PSU-AAUP is currently negotiating the transfer process for existing NTT instructional faculty, and will then negotiate salaries for the new ranks, which are separate from the existing Instructor series.


Ballot Text for Early Review

Voting will open on Monday, November 29, at 8:00am, and run through Friday, December 3, at 5:00pm. You will receive an Election Buddy ballot for this vote as is standard for our member votes.

On October 28, 2021 the PSU-AAUP Executive Council (EC), in its role as employer, made the decision in closed session not to extend a new employment contract to Executive Director (ED) Phil Lesch. His current contract expires on Dec 31, 2021.

At least one member requested to refer this decision to the membership pursuant to article 5 of the PSU-AAUP Constitution. Overturning the EC’s decision requires a ⅔ vote of the members voting: 

Any action taken by the Executive Council may be overruled by a two-thirds vote of the members voting. A vote to overrule must be taken within two academic calendar months of the action, and notice of intention to call such a vote must be given the Council within one academic calendar month of the action. If a regular meeting is not scheduled within the two month period, a special meeting may be called as provided for in Article VI.

As with other items referred to the membership (e.g., MOAs, CBA, etc), the EC is asking members to affirm the decision. Therefore, the question for this ballot is: 

Should the EC’s decision on this matter stand?

  • Voting YES means that you want the EC’s decision to stand. 
  • Voting NO means that you want to overturn the decision made by the EC.

The EC encourages members to vote YES on this ballot in order to allow the EC’s decision on this matter to stand. The EC believes its judgement on this issue is in the best interest of the membership. 

If the EC’s decision is overturned (at least ⅔ of members voting vote NO), the EC will make a good faith offer to extend a contract to Mr. Lesch. The EC cannot guarantee Mr. Lesch’s acceptance of such offer or any new contract with PSU-AAUP.

We are aware that many of you would like more information about the specific information we used to arrive at this personnel decision. In order to be an ethical employer, and a responsible fiduciary for our union, the Executive Council must adhere to standard employment practices, including those protecting the confidentiality of employee personnel records. This is both to protect the union, and to protect the employee.

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