President’s Weekly Message: Why We Can’t Settle this !@#$% Contract!!!! - February 16,2014

February 16, 2014 / Phil Lesch

President’s Weekly Message: Why We Can’t Settle this !@#$% Contract!!!! - February 16,2014

1.  Info Picket & Rally, Thurs, Feb 27, 11 - 1, Park Blocks Near Stage
     ALL AAUP Members Who Want a Decent Contract Need to Be There!
2.  Caucus Meetings:  Will We Have to Strike? What would it Mean?
     AP Caucus:  Tues, Feb 18, Noon to 1:30, SMSU 333, Lunch Provided
     Fixed-term Teaching & Research Faculty: Thurs, Feb 20, 4 - 5 pm, SMSU 238
    Tenure-Line Faculty:  Tues, 4 - 5 pm, SMSU 333
3.  AAUP Meet Up!  Weds, Feb 19, 5 - 7 pm, Upstairs in Rookery of Raven & Rose
    1331 SW Broadway, Happy Hour until 6 pm, No Host, Music starting at 7:30 pm
4.  PSU Student Union Members Ask to Speak to Classes re Supporting AAUP
     Contact for details, scheduling
5.  Portland Public Schools Teachers' Strike & Rally, Thurs, Feb 20, 3pm
     Pioneer Courthouse Square - Join a PSU Group in Support

Why We Can't Settle This !@#% PSU Contract!!!!
Parallels with Portland's K-12 Teachers Contract Fight

Very few colleges and universities operate their Athletics programs without major subsidies from tuition revenues, like PSU's 73% subsidy of a $13m budget
, according to USA Today's data (  Student debt loads demand that we re-consider the use of tuition & fees to prop up quasi-pro sports programs.  Only 7 of 228 Division 1 college sports programs take no academic subsidy.  PSU is hardly about to join those 7;  $800k to make football "self supporting" will only reduce the subsidy to 67%.

Why We Can't Settle This !@#$ PSU Contract!!!!

The PSU Admin decided to play hardball with us this year, creating a crisis atmosphere with talk of a $15m "structural deficit" and elimination of 20% of programs by following DIckeson's program prioritization model, while pushing to strip entire articles - and big sections of others- from the contract.

Although the Admin two months later reduced the $15m to $7.5M, and recently stated that only half that need come from academic budgets, academic units are still supposed to
- Come up with 6% budget cut scenarios, and
- Teach Summer Session with one-third the budgets available when Summer Session was independent, while "producing as much SCH" as ever.

We haven't been able to settle the contract because the AAUP bargaining team CAN NOT ACCEPT that Faculty and APs must give up our power in shared governance provided by the contract.  We're told that we're paranoid and untrusting to think that they're pushing so hard to gain control because they want to make changes to Faculty Senate-created guidelines, or to unwritten work policies.

Weigh that against
- Dickeson's recommendations of reorganization as the means to rid yourself of tenured faculty without having to declare exigency;
- national pressure against tenure, and the academic freedom it protects;
- Admin insistence that APs be easier to let go, by ending their "appointment," rather than their "position;"
- the Provost's and General Counsel's evident eagerness to take their red pens to the P & T guidelines just amended by the Faculty Senate; and
- VP Mack's demand that USP faculty alter their merit pay guidelines, to remove a decades-old faculty-created policy to address equity issues.

The AAUP bargaining team CAN NOT ACCEPT that we cannot "negotiate the mission" by objecting to cutting our pay and numbers to pay more for Administration, Real Estate, Athletics and other secondary activities, funded with student debt.  Many of us have dedicated years to this University, its mission and its student body, but we advised to stand by while Administrators with little history or understanding of PSU hack academics to expand upper Administration and implement one-size-fits-all Admin fads.

The AAUP Bargaining Team CAN NOT ACCEPT that it's irrelevant to contract negotiations that many teaching faculty members are losing up to 12% of their annual income in summer pay, because "there's no data on that" and "no-one whose letter of offer didn't specifically include Summer Session courses has any right to assume that they would be the people to teach their classes during the summer," or at the rates established and followed by Summer Session for decades,  simply because they are the PSU faculty, were hired with that understanding, and always have.

The AAUP Bargaining Team CAN NOT ACCEPT that advancement for APs isn't possible, and the erosion of the stability of faculty appointments cannot be significantly reversed, because PSU allegedly cannot operate without the "flexibility" provided by having only 1/3 of the faculty in tenure-line appointments.  However every institution in the OUS system does far better, and PSU managed to for our entire history: click here for slide

Parallels with the Portland Teachers' Contract Fight

Portland's K-12 teachers are also being asked year after year to do more with less, without recognition of the eventual toll that must take on quality.  High school teachers want to at least maintain, if not reduce, the cap on the number for which each teacher is responsible at 180.

With 180 students, it take 15 uninterrupted hours for a teacher to devote 5 minutes a week to each student's homework.

That's too much time to ask on top of teaching/planning/meetings/advising, while also being too little time for good feedback, less time than teachers had in the past and less time than teachers have in other wealthy nations.

Not only are Portland teachers defending their professional integrity by demanding that they be able to deliver a quality program, they are being met with Very Familiar Rhetoric:
"We have a structural deficit"
"You have no right to include "permissive" topics in your contract"

Do you think it's coincidental?

If you'd like to support Portland Teachers,
a) Join a PSU group at the Rally Planned for Thurs, Jan 20th, at 3 pm in Pioneer Courthouse Square
b) Join a teachers' picket line on Thurs, Feb 20 and Fri Feb 21 during non-work time, if you can
c) Take food or other material support to picketers at your neighborhood school
d) Contact school board members at
Talking points for a fair contract are:
- Real workload/class size relief
- Hold teachers economically harmless
- Let teachers teach, not just teach to the test
- Prioritize kids who need the most help, including Focus and Priority Schools
See the union's website for more info at

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