Welcome back Members!
Even though it was the summer and we were all planning to kick back with a good novel poolside (just kidding), it was an incredibly busy summer for AAUP member leadership. We negotiated significant protections for our members impacted by the pandemic; we continued bargaining for a fair and equitable contract, spending 40.5 hours at the table and countless hours planning for those sessions; and advocated for racial justice and other solidarity in our community. Below find a recap of the important work we did this summer:
Pandemic Related Protections
As soon as the pandemic hit, we as a union knew that our members needed significant protections. First and foremost of concern to us was that Admin’s plan to reopen campus needed to center the health and safety of our members, and that meant bargaining an MOA regarding returning to campus. Other important protections are also detailed below.
Return to Campus: In May of 2020, PSU and AAUP began bargaining over the campus plan to return members from remote work. Our agreement is an attempt to protect the health, safety and well-being of all faculty, instructors, academic professionals, staff, students and visitors. Among the major features of this agreement is that remote work will continue to happen if PSU determines it is sufficient to meet the needs of the University. Members may request to work on campus, and if proper protections and the protection of others are maintained, then members can return. If a member does return to campus, the University will employ as much flexibility in their schedule and work environment as possible. If a member is asked to return to campus and does not feel safe, there are a series of appeals and resources available to protect the members.
Other Pandemic Related Protections Secured by PSU-AAUP:
- IPDA Rollovers
- Tenure Clock Pause
- Post Continuous Appointment Review (PCAR) Pause
- AP eval impacts
- NTTF Milestone pause
- Vacation accrual temporary increase
- Sabbatical extension
- Faculty Development Grant extension
- Impact on Startup Funds
- All Reviews to Consider Impacts of the Pandemic
Academic Professional Initial Placement in New Job Family, Career Tracks and Career Levels
One of the biggest tasks for the bargaining team was to bring to closure the multi-year negotiations on the process for the initial placement of Academic Professionals (APs) into new Job Family, Career Tracks and Career Levels. While we aren’t able to bargain over the new classification system (it’s a management right), PSU-AAUP and the University have agreed on procedures that will ensure an efficient and transparent transition from the old job family system to the new one. The process to actually place APs into the new system will begin shortly.
The impact of RGS Restructuring
In November 2018, the Office of Research and Graduate Studies (RGS) made a series of decisions that led to upheaval for SPA staff and faculty from across the University. In some cases, there may have been some effect on faculty productivity and performance. PSU-AAUP and Admin agreed to send a joint letter to inform members that they can provide evidence of a perceived impact during this time period (November 2018 – March 2020) as part of their file for consideration during their next Promotion and/or Tenure (P&T) review. Check your email inboxes for this letter for how it can be used during evaluations, promotion, and tenure cases. Additionally, the MOA creates training and other protections for our members who work in RGS.
Post Continuous Appointment Review (PCAR) extensions for Non-COVID related issues
We agreed to a process that allows Non-tenure track instructional faculty on continuous appointments who have situations that necessitate the need to defer post-continuous appointment reviews for one year. Deferrals should be based on personal circumstances such as maternity, paternity, adoption, injuries, illnesses, or other protected leave circumstances that have had an impact on the faculty member’s work.
PSU Copyright Policy
This summer PSU gave final approval to a new Copyright Policy that was the product of over three years of work with significant input from faculty and Academic Professionals, through the University committee structure, and through our Union. We made sure that the scholarly work of both faculty and Academic Professionals are protected. We also made sure that course materials put on University-run online platforms are also protected. Finally, the Copyright Policy also includes a strong dispute-resolution process to handle violations of faculty and Academic Professionals’ rights to the copyright of their scholarly work.
Advocating for our Members
2020 has presented a number of overwhelming and unprecedented challenges for all of us, and PSU-AAUP has been working hard on behalf of our members in a variety of ways to provide assistance as we face these challenges or to make clear to members what resources PSU provides its employees. For example, please note expanded FMLA coverage for parents and caregivers who are trying to juggle working from home and overseeing distance learning for school-aged children or caregiving for family members in a variety of capacities. We also advocated for workplace flexibility for employees and established a much needed PSU-AAUP assistance fund for our members. These are just a few of the ways in which we have been tirelessly advocating for our members. Please see below for details:
- Resources for Parents and Caregivers
- Flexibility for All Employees Impacted by the Stresses of 2020
- PSU-AAUP Assistance Fund Filled Critical Gap for Our Members
Racial Justice Work
PSU-AAUP continues to deepen our work on social equity and anti-racism in our own organization and at PSU at large. We hired an equity process designer to assist us this academic year. We also have been collaborating with DisarmPSU and were pleased with President Percy's recent announcement of a partial disarmament of campus security. However, Disarm PSU will continue to push for all of their demands to be met. To be updated/involved, follow DisarmPSU on Instagram. Finally, we also read President Percy's email "Advancing racial equity at Portland State" and look forward to ways PSU-AAUP can help further the efforts mentioned.
- Supported Jason Washington Memorial
- PSU-AAUP staff and the Executive Council are engaging in ongoing EDI Work
- VP for Academic Freedom and Grievances Jennifer Ruth on the Importance of Critical Race Theory
- PSU-AAUP Endorses AAUP National’s Statement on Trump’s Attack on Critical Race Theory
- Scholars Strike for Racial Justice
- The Advancing Black Strategists Initiative and Jobs With Justice Education Fund
More Important Solidarity Work!
Our Adjunct Colleagues represented by PSUFA are bargaining. Let’s continue to support their goal for a fair and equitable contract. Here are some of PSUFA’s key bargaining priorities:
Pay parity. PSUFA faculty are asking to be paid the same amount to teach a class as the lowest paid full time instructor. Currently they are paid at least 12% less than our NTT instructors, regardless of degree or experience, and receive no benefits.
Increased Job Security. We want to ensure that adjuncts can predict how much work they should expect in a given year. PSU also needs a consistent and transparent process to appeal for accountability when assignment rights are violated. We also want to make certain that PSU honors and recognizes long-term adjuncts with a modicum of increased job security--41 % of adjuncts work at PSU for 6 years or more and many have for decades. Adjunct employees are deeply invested in our academic community but still have little or no recourse when our jobs are suddenly cut.
Inclusion. They want greater inclusion into the workings of their departments and our school so that they can stay well informed, provide a strong link between their students and PSU’s culture and resources, and be recognized as important contributors to our University’s success. PSU employs between 1200 and 1400 adjuncts per year. According to PSU’s own data, as of 2018 adjuncts teach 43% of all classes, so they are essential to the success of PSU’s core mission, and yet they are excluded from almost all forms of governance, many forms of communication between the school and the faculty, and largely excluded from formal and informal recognition of who belongs.