It was with deep sadness and concern that on May 1, International Workers Day, the Portland State University community learned that 106 of our colleagues were furloughed. We understand that a significant percentage of those colleagues are represented by our Service Employees International Union (SEIU). We, members of the PSU union coalition Together4PSU, want to express our solidarity with these 106 persons and let all members of our campus community know that the campus unions are working together to ensure that moving forward, the University’s budget priorities are transparent, thoughtful, and reflect the core principles of our unions:
We are here together to serve our students and the community
We work together to make this University operate
We believe budgets are moral documents; transparency from the administration and shared governance make universities effective institutions for all of its stakeholders.
We understand that SEIU negotiated the terms of the furlough and for that, we are grateful. We are glad to know that representatives of these employees were at the table, helping to make decisions with the administration to seek a better possible outcome for these folks. We are thankful that SEIU negotiated a furlough that protects their leave, seniority, and benefits through the end of September rather than a lay-off.
We understand that these are complex times, but as the administration considers any future employment decisions, we expect them to include union representatives in the process and remember that we are all vital members of this community. Many of our campus community members have a high degree of anxiety at this moment. It is not clear how this pandemic specifically will affect an already unclear budget situation. The administration’s decisions have been based upon a seeming budget crisis that we as stakeholders do not have consensus around, and this only raises more questions about how our employment and paychecks will be impacted. For example: how are they planning to use CAREs Act money that isn't earmarked for students? We would like for the administration to use this money to protect hard working employees who are critical to the University’s mission to deliver an education and let knowledge serve the city. Know that we are having weekly conversations with management and are reminding them that now is the time to remember that we are partners here at PSU. Loyalty goes both ways.
Again, we regret that 106 persons of our community have been furloughed. We hope to see them back in their jobs sooner than later and/or reassigned to other positions without pay cuts. Individuals represented by SEIU have worked hard to keep this University running and we hope that the administration understands that we are all in this together.
Together4PSU will continue to be in conversation with one another and will be in solidarity as we face these difficult times together.
Thuy Huyen, President, SEIU 89
Ariana Jacob, Co-Chair of Executive Council, PSUFA
Jennifer Kerns, President, PSU AAUP
Emily Leickly, President, Graduate Employees Union