Settlement at Portland State

By Gwendolyn Bradley

The Portland State University AAUP chapter reached a contract settlement in April after voting overwhelmingly in March to authorize a strike. As the strike approached, the bargaining teams entered into a twenty-four-hour marathon session of mediation that ended with an agreement. 

The chapter, which represents more than 1,200 tenured, tenuretrack, and non-tenure-track faculty members and academic professionals, was able to win major advances on faculty stability, providing two and three-year contracts after four years of service for most full-time non-tenure-track faculty while also maintaining historic rights essential for academic freedom. This achievement comes after years of cutbacks and concessions at the bargaining table on the part of the PSU faculty and academic professionals. 

The new contract provides a variety of salary increases: a 1.5 percent across-the-board raise for 2015; two 2.5 percent cost-of-living raises; and a new salary floor of $40,000 for all full-time faculty members and academic professionals. Academic professionals will also receive salary increases tied to seniority. 

The administration agreed to form a labor-management-student task force to consider how to improve academic quality, and it dropped a proposal to eliminate the union’s input on faculty evaluation and promotion policies and a proposal to give management broad power to change policies not specifically spelled out in the contract. 

The support of students, who were present at the bargaining table and participated in a walkout in conjunction with an AAUP information picket and rally, was critical, as was the support of other campus unions. Students, staff members, and part- and full-time faculty members, in coalition as Together 4 PSU, have pledged to get PSU back on the right track with an adequately funded, student-centered budget