Is the threat of a strike not enough? For most students, it’s difficult to perceive what a faculty strike would mean. For administrators, the idea of it must be frightening: will they have to teach in faculty members’ stead?
Is the threat of a strike not enough?
For most students, it’s difficult to perceive what a faculty strike would mean. For administrators, the idea of it must be frightening: will they have to teach in faculty members’ stead?
For faculty, it’s a nightmare. Will they be able to pay their bills? In some cases, faculty are still paying off student loans. For other teachers, they’re just trying to pay rent.
But these intangible impacts of a strike don’t seem to be enough for the Portland State administration. They’ve let the bargaining sessions with the PSU faculty union enter mediation, one of the first steps in the process that leads to a faculty strike. Now, the administration is bickering with faculty over barely more than a 2 percent raise. The administration has offered a close to 10 percent increase-a little less than 5 percent for both this year and next year-while the PSU faculty have dropped their original request of over 20 percent to just around 12 percent.
As the groups have reached this stalemate during mediation, PSU’s administration now dangles in front of the faculty a mere snack in the place of what should be a meal. These professors and instructors have been paid salaries that are below their peers statewide for years, and now must be given recompense.
The administration must make the move and accept the faculty union’s proposal. Not only does the administration have the means and the money, they have the threat of a strike staring them in the face.
Roy Koch, Portland State’s provost, told the Vanguard last week that the 10 percent increase would cost more than the $2.2 million the state legislature set aside for salary increases at Portland State. Tuition dollars and other state funds will cover whatever costs bleed over the $2.2 million. Koch wouldn’t say how much more than the $2.2 million PSU plans to spend, just that the university has already offered to spend more.
Portland State students may not be able to readily answer what a strike would mean. For some, it could mean they wouldn’t be able to finish a degree when they had planned. For others, it might make them lose financial aid they were depending on to live.
But every student in this university should agree on one thing: We are more than glad to know that our already inflated cost of tuition might go to pay for increases to the consistently meager, dismal faculty salaries.
The university administration now must bend far more than they have to save everyone the fear and intangibles of a strike. Accept the faculty union’s proposal and end these embittered arguments.