Sessions 34 & 35: Finishing-up non-economic issues and laying the framework for a FAIRNE$$

March 07, 2016 / Phil Lesch

We still needed to finish bargaining over research NTTF appointments and academic professional transfer policies—two issues that had been unsuccessfully pushed to sub committees.  We also laid the groundwork for our affinity bargaining (the IBB method for economic issue) day.   We exchanged economic interests with the administration and listed the economic categories (referred to as silos in this method) that we will be negotiating over on March 10th.

We made progress on research NTTF appointments.  In our new contract, some research NTTF will now be eligible for continuous appointments.  Many of our NTTF researchers have been at Portland State for a significant amount of time and work for units or institutes both soliciting grant money and carrying out research projects.  Some researchers have had the unfortunate experience of having been awarded a large grant, only to see their FTE reduced while they were working on other projects and waiting for the money to come-in.   We manage to support a large administrative team on the soft money that flows into the institution, and we don’t expect them to put-up with periodic lay-offs or reductions in their FTE.

The option to provide a continuous appointment to research NTTF provides more stable opportunities for these faculty members, while recognizing the challenges faced by those funded by soft money.  A continuous appointment can be eliminated if the funding dries up; however, we also agreed to create a Bridge Funding Pilot Program.  When there is a temporary gap or loss of funding, a NTTF researcher can apply for bridge funding to fill that gap.  The Bridge Funding Program will be housed in the Provost’s Office.  An advisory committee that includes NTTF researchers and an AAUP representative will provide input about how the program will operate and which criteria should be used when considering applications.  The committee will not make funding decisions.   We will negotiate the amount of the Bridge Fund pool when we discuss economics on March 10th.

We have yet to resolve the AP transfer issue.   We are working on a process to create and give preference to internal applicants first for AP positions.  We will continue to discuss this issue on Wednesday morning.

We also spent significant time outlining our economic interests.  PSU AAUP has an interest in:

  •     Increasing the percentage of the budget spent on instruction and direct student services.
  •     Having compensation that enables us to live a middle class lifestyle while residing within a reasonable commuting distance of PSU.
  •     Seeing salaries grow to meet the rise in core inflation and housing prices in the Portland metropolitan area.
  •     Achieving internal and external salary equity for our members.
  •     Valuing our members’ years of experience and service to PSU and eliminating salary compression and inversion.
  •     Providing adequate funding for professional development. Members should not have to pay out of pocket for job-related professional development activities.
  •     Creating a benefits package that reflects our shared commitment to a healthy work/life balance. Out of pocket health care costs need to be affordable.   Retirement should be achievable for all members after a significant length of service.  Commuting options should be both environmentally and economically sustainable.
  •     Ending discriminatory pay gaps that exist within our institution for protected classes of employees (race/ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexuality, etc.).
  •     Valuing research at Portland State. Researchers need to have adequate support and job security.  Sabbatical lengths should be driven by scholarly needs rather than by financial constraints.
  •     Working at an institution that is committed to providing a living wage for all of its employees.

Administration shared their interests with us.  While they acknowledged that our salaries should keep pace with inflation and be competitive with our peers (although, according to Kevin Reynolds—they are!), they did not articulate an interest in rewarding us for the work we do or for the years we’ve invested in this institution.  They also did not address compression, inversion or equity.  Most of the administration’s interests revolved around staying “fiscally responsible” and “balancing the budget.”

We also learned that the President and his executive team are pushing for a settlement that is no more than the current budget + 3% to cover all additional costs including salaries and benefits for our members and those from SEIU and PSUFA, services and supplies.  We’ve heard this kind of nonsense before in previous negotiations.  Remember the $15 million shortfall?

Despite all of the time we’ve sunk into the interest-based bargaining process, administration is pulling its usual shenanigans.   First, we had Kevin Reynolds presenting his budget doom and gloom to the board, now the President and his executive team are directing the administrative bargaining team to stay within a tightly constrained economic box.  If we want a raise, it looks like we’re going to have to fight.

That’s why we need to have our members turn out.  We’re asking all AAUP members to commit to spending one hour in bargaining on Thursday March 10th in ASRC 515.

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