PSU Faculty Discuss Likelihood of Strike

Portland State professors were seen on campus this week tabling and handing out flyers with information regarding their ongoing contract negotiations with the administration.

Faculty are attempting to obtain a new contract, which would increase all faculty wages in order to keep up with the rate of inflation. This will also create a more secure work environment for fixed-term faculty (full-time faculty teaching with renewable short-term contracts), according to professors.

Professors have also been discussing the likelihood of a strike due to the failure of negotiation outcomes. The strike is the final straw of the extended bargaining that has been going on between PSU American Association of University Professors and the university since April of 2013.

The faculty are advocating through the AAUP. Together with other university faculty from around the country, they join together to protect academic freedom. AAUP at PSU is made up of more than 1,200 faculty and professionals at the university.

For fixed-term faculty at PSU, who currently teach half of student credit hours, AAUP is attempting to lengthen their contracts, stating that their purpose is to both strengthen curriculums and build the necessary relationships between student and professor.

Mary King, professor of economics and president of AAUP’s PSU chapter, further explains their purpose for handing out flyers.

“We’re out here trying to talk to students and other community members about the progress of bargaining and where the budget is going,” King said. “We’re getting nowhere—we’ve been talking for months and months and months, and we have no option but to strike.”

In addition to rallying the campus community for this cause, professors were asking those passing by to send their demands for quality funding straight to PSU President Wim Wiewel’s inbox. The flyers being passed out included the president’s voicemail number and email address, accompanied by a quoted message that students and faculty could include in their email:

“President Wiewel:

The PSU-American Association of University Professors has a clear vision for a PSU with student-first priorities. I support the American Association of University Professor’s effort to have a contract at PSU that invests in high quality careers for our professors and advisors.”

Although AAUP is united by faculty, the professors at PSU expressed their concern for the student population by getting them involved in their efforts.

“We’re trying to get academic priorities front and center, and keep a strong faculty here for our students,” King said. “We want to have PSU be as strong as it can be, but students are going into debt and they’re paying too much money to have their tuition dollars going into administration [and] real estate factors. It’s got to go into academics; that’s the priority. We’re staying; they can go elsewhere.”

If the university fails to come to an agreement with AAUP in the coming weeks, the professors will strike until their requests have been contracted.