President’s Weekly Message- What’s Going On in Mediation?!?- January 27, 2014

January 29, 2014 / Phil Lesch

1.  Tabling:  "Ask me Why the Faculty and APs might have to Strike for the
     Future of PSU!"  Tuesday, Jan 28, 11 - 1, Library Steps.  Come on by!
2.  Standing Room Only Crowd Hears Bunsis Report on PSU Finances
     Slides Available Here:  /assets/docs/images/assets/
3.  AAUP Meet-up!  Hang out with friends and colleagues, Thursday, Jan 30th, 5 - 7 pm.
     Henry's, upstairs in the Billiard Room, 10 NW 12th.  Happy Hour until 6 pm.
     You can take the streetcar!

What's Going On in Mediation?!?!?!?
Program Prioritization a la Dickeson - Odd Choice for PSU?
Support for AAUP from PSU's Adjunct Faculty

What's Going On in Mediation?!?!?!?

Just today, Jan 27th, we finished our 5th day-long mediation session, and can tell you that mediation - in the form prescribed by Oregon's Employment Relations Board - is an EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING exercise of communicating through a third party with no experience or knowledge of the University. 

It's hard to describe progress made in mediation because it's less linear than regular negotiations, which don't allow "going back" in any way from a proposal once made.  In other words, if I offer you 10 jelly beans in a regular negotiation session, I can never offer you fewer.  In mediation, you put forward supposals or "what ifs," and your next supposal need not be as good in every dimension as the previous one;  I could offer you 5 jelly beans and one tootsie roll, without you being able to insist that I could never, ever, ever offer you fewer than 10 jelly beans, no matter what.

We continue to push for
* creation of an advancement path for APs.
* more stable employment for fixed-term faculty.
* contract protection of evaluation language, including promotion and tenure guidelines.
* pay increases that keep us up with inflation and make some progress toward our
* merit in the form of meaningful pay increases with promotion.
* and several other, smaller improvements.

The best way to get a grip on what's going on in bargaining, now that we've moved into mediation, is to invite someone from the bargaining team to come to your unit or department meeting.

Today, we made some progress - both in clarifying our positions and moving slightly toward each other - and extended the contract through Feb. 28th.  We planned a couple of smaller group meetings, to be followed by another mediation day on Monday, Feb 10th.

Program Prioritization a la Dickeson - Odd Choice for PSU?

Have you read the book Provost Andrews is promoting, Robert Dickeson's Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services:  Reallocating Resources to Achieve Strategic Balance?  It's an easy read, much like any other consultant's airport book.

It's also an odd book to choose as guide to PSU's best path forward.  Many thoughtful readers report that it provides a strategy for eliminating tenured faculty members without having to declare financial exigency, and endure all that bad publicity!

What struck me most forcefully is that Dickeson's one-size-fits all approach seems a particularly poor fit for PSU.

In his second paragraph (p.1), Dickeson confidently claims that colleges and universities "have been particularly successful at raising revenues," thus solving one of the four problems he asserts they face.  Does that sound applicable to PSU to you?!?!?

Later (p. 76), Dickeson states plainly that "an institution must maintain appropriate balance between the stability represented by full-time faculty on the one hand and the flexibility offered by employing part-time faculty on the other....Flexibility--and lower personnel costs at the price of quality have tipped the scales in the wrong direction"....because "although many, if not most, of these [part-time] instructors are no doubt well qualified, they cannot possibly maintain the continuity, stability, and ongoing rigor required of full and active participation in academic planing, programming, advising, scholarship, and service necessary to sustain academic program preeminence."

At PSU, the two-thirds of faculty members with contracts of one-year or shorter teach just over half the student credit hours.  We have by far the least stable faculty of Oregon's public universities, but the Admin bargaining team insists that any more stable arrangements would not provide the "flexibility" they need.

Dickeson boldly suggests (p. 178) that only 80% of a college's faculty should be tenured.  Since only 33% of PSU's faculty are tenured or on the tenure-track, this should pose no problem!

Finally, Dickeson asserts (p. 105) that "most of the cost cutting has taken place historically in the administrative, nonacademic cost centers of campus," on some planet other than the one we inhabit.  Analyzing federal IPEDS data in a presentation on campus last spring, economist Robert Martin revealed that in 1987 PSU employed 1 administrator for every 2 and a half tenure-line faculty members;  by 2013 we had 1 administrator for every eight-tenths of a tenure-line faculty member!

Support for AAUP from PSU's Adjunct Faculty

PSU's part-time faculty union, the PSUFA, has come out forcefully in support of AAUP members, asking that PSU adjunct faculty refuse to cover the classes of AAUP members, should we be forced to strike to obtain a decent contract - see below.

They've set us a powerful example we would do well to remember, of how to stick together to avoid being divided and conquered.  As the saying goes, there are no "contingent faculty," only contingent contracts.

Dear PSUFA Members
As you know, we recently completed our negotiations and ratified a new collective bargaining agreement.  Negotiations were difficult. The Administration made us work for every gain we made.  However, for the most part, we did not feel that they tried to attack us in fundamental ways, attempting to add or remove contract language that would have had major negative impacts on Adjunct Faculty and Researchers.

However, that is not the case with our colleagues in AAUP.  The Administration has really gone after them, attacking their promotion and tenure language (the key aspect of their job security), their grievance procedure, and offering a truly inadequate wage increase.  Negotiations have dragged on for months, and four (4) mediation sessions, the process is now even farther away from resolution.

The way things are going at this time, a strike is becoming a very real possibility. 

What does that mean for us?
• First of all, we have a clause in our contract that requires us to teach our classes even if there is a work stoppage or strike by full-time faculty. 
• However, there are many other ways that we can support our AAUP colleagues:  We can join AAUP picket lines, we can express our support and solidarity to our students both inside and outside of class, and we can attend rallies in support of the strikers.
• The Administration may try to turn us against the full-time faculty and may even try to get us to cover their classes if they go on strike.
• PLEASE DO NOT FALL FOR THIS TACTIC. We ask that you REFUSE to accept such offers. We know that is tough for a lot of us, but this is crucial: If you accept "struck work" it will weaken ALL faculty's ability to advocate for fair treatment and a strong learning environment. 
• If the Administration forces AAUP out on strike, and wins, this increases their ability to come after us next time our contract is up for negotiation.
We will be sending out regular updates on the situation as it develops.  Meanwhile, please tell any of the folks you know in AAUP that PSUFA supports their struggle 100%.

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