President’s Weekly Message: We Will Be Declaring Impasse- February 23, 2014

February 23, 2014 / Phil Lesch


1.  Everybody Out for an Info Picket and Rally, Thurs, Feb 27th, 11 - 1
     Park Blocks, Rain or Shine!
     Come out for your students, your colleagues and PSU!

     Demonstrating Strength is our Best Hope for Avoiding a Strike
     Student Walk Out Likely Despite Admin Throwing Student Party at Same Time!
2.  Tenure-Line Faculty Caucus, Tuesday, Feb 25th, 4 - 5 pm, SMSU 333
     Opportunity to Talk about What a Strike Would Mean, and Alternatives
3.  Save the Date:  PSU Board of Trustees Meeting, March 12, 1 - 4     
     If we haven't settled, we'll pack the galleries!
4.  Portland teachers settled in advance of strike,
     Medford teachers settled after 16-day strike

     Educators being pushed to the edge, by same admin playbook & falling quality.


University of Illinois, Chicago Faculty Struck Last Week - Same Issues
PSU-AAUP will Formally Declare Impasse Monday, Feb 24th
Admin Rattled by Info Picket - Plans Competing Events
What Would a Strike Mean?  Answers to FAQs!

UI Chicago Faculty Struck Last Week - Same Issues as Ours

UI Chicago faculty canceled classes and picketed Feb 18th and 19th "to demand an increase in wages for both tenured and nontenured professors, as well as multi-year contracts and 'control of governance and curriculum'."

Sound familiar at all?!?!  All over the country, students are harmed by
- destabilization of the faculty and
- diversion of tuition dollars into excessive Admin positions and salaries,
  "the Edifice Complex" - or over-buildling to leave a physical legacy, and
  massive tuition subsidies of Athletics. 

PSU is out in front on all these trends and our students can't afford it.

Fun fact:  UI Chicago union President, Joe Persky co-authors with Pres Wiewel, who worked at UI Chicago from 1979 to 2004!  Do these guys not talk?

PSU-AAUP to Formally Declare Impasse on Monday, Feb 24th

Monday morning, we'll send a Declaration of Impasse to Oregon's Employment Relations Board.  We'll announce it to the press, and invite them to our Info Picket and Rally on Thursday, Feb 27th, 11 - 1.

After 10 months of bargaining, 40 hours of mediation and 8 hours of one-on-one talks, the Admin still insists on
* real wage cuts, after inflation - without even thinking of the hit many people are taking
  due to cuts in Summer Session - "the Deans are not saying that anyone's upset about
  Summer Session, and we have no data on summer pay"
* continuing the shift to short-term faculty contracts, regardless of the impact on
   student outcomes - "we need the flexibility!"
* no reliable advancement path for APs - "steps are unprofessional"
* an Admin power grab to eliminate contract protection of faculty and AP
  governance rights - the President is the Decider....
* Millions of tuition dollars being spent for Admin, Real Estate, Athletics, etc. -
  "we can't negotiate the University's mission" (it's NOT academics?!?!)

Declaring Impasse is a way to increase the pressure for a decent contract.  Sound arguments, good data and all the efforts of the bargaining team cannot win a good contract by themselves.

We can - and will - continue to bargain as frequently and well as we can, but declaring Impasse puts us on a path to strike if we make no progress.  Sometimes the threat of a strike - and the loss of management reputation and enrollment dollars - is what it takes.

Right now, Pres Wiewel takes us for granted, assuming that we'll continue to
* absorb whatever cuts to academics are "needed" to bankroll other projects, and
* stay silent about the impact on academic quality, to avoid washing dirty linen
   in public.

We've done that for too long.  There comes a point when we have to stand up for our students, our University and our professional integrity.

Admin Rattled by Info Picket and Possible Walkout

The PSU Admin is sufficiently rattled by the Info Picket, and possible student walkout, that they've scheduled TWO competing events!
One:  Fixed-term Faculty Lunch with Admin Chief Negotiator, VP Carol Mack, to talk about career strategies!

          Go if you want to, but come to the Info Picket first, and wear your AAUP
          t-shirt, lanyard, button or RED to the lunch!
Two:  Student Party, with free lunch & bowling to celebrate that major University
         accomplishment:  25,000 likes on the PSU Facebook page!

What Next?  A Raffle, held at Univ Place, for a Week at Wim's Beach House?!?!

What Would a Strike Mean?  Answers to FAQs!

A strike is a legal, collective tactic for employees to accomplish workplace changes.  Education strikes tend to be short, given the pressure to ensure that students make the progress they should. Recent successful higher ed strikes include the Cal State University System in 2011 (which led to both contract improvements and more state support), Southern Illinois University in 2011, and Bellingham Technical College last fall.

We wouldn't be paid while on strike, bur our health insurance would remain in place through the end of the month.

The PSU-AAUP Executive Council has authorized spending reserves to pay minimum wage to members who picket, and to create a Hardship Fund that people with particularly difficult circumstances could apply to for help, if we were to strike for more than 5 days.

We have consulted with people in Financial Aid and International Affairs, so that we can time any possible strike at a moment when it will NOT threaten students' financial aid or visas.  Faculty visas will NOT be affected, unless they are in process - in which case processing will be slowed, but not otherwise affected.

It is illegal to retaliate against employees for striking, though it may be difficult to prove WHY someone is non-renewed.  That said, there's safety in numbers:  the Admin can't replace us all.

Adjuncts, Chairs, Directors and Grad Students will almost certainly be told that they can't refuse to cross a picket line. (Only the Teamsters can do that, because they stood up to McCarthyist legal changes in the early 1950s.)  Adjuncts, Chairs, Directors and Students CAN fulfill their obligations off-campus, if they can arrange for a convenient, accessible place to meet, and communicate it to any students or colleagues with whom they meet.

The PSUFA, the union of PSU's part-time faculty, is encouraging its members to refuse to take struck work, if it is offered to them.

Students, as represented by ASPSU and student activist groups, are solidly in support of PSU-AAUP,  their faculty and APs.

If you work on external funding, you should strike work for which the funder pays PSU, so that PSU can pay you.  Our attorneys advise that a good strategy is to re-schedule activities planned for the dates we would strike, if you can.  We would be able to monitor our labs, unless PSU "locked us out," which hasn't happened in a U.S. academic setting since the 1970s in Oakland.

It's a good idea to postpone any major purchases, if losing a week, or even two, of pay would be a problem.


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