Faculty salaries: agreement reached

After a lengthy battle with Portland State administration over faculty salaries, the faculty union has reached an agreement for an 8 percent across-the-board salary increase.

Members of the American Association of University Professors, the union that represents many PSU professors, librarians and other faculty, will receive an immediate 5 percent increase in salary and a 3 percent increase next year.

The agreement also includes improvements in health coverage.

The contract reached by the AAUP Bargaining Team will be submitted for ratification and go on a ballot to be ratified by members of the union. AAUP represents about 1,000 people, only about half of whom are voting members. The ballots will be counted Thursday, and will decide whether or not the contract will be ratified.

PSU faculty salaries have been frozen since 2003 and are in the lowest 10 percent nationally. Faculty has not received cost-of-living salary increases since then, though cost of living in Portland has gone up 6.7 percent. A low salary for faculty members has made it difficult for the school to retain quality instructors. According to a 2005 Oregon University System Retention Study, all faculty members who have left PSU in the past four years did so because of better salary offers and resources from universities in other states.

The defined groups that will receive pay increases from the new contract are continuing ranked professors, academic professionals, and research assistants and associates. This does not include adjunct professors, University Studies mentors and other faculty who are not full time.

Previously, the university covered health care completely while faculty did not receive cost of living increases. The new health care agreement contains a risk-sharing agreement that would have faculty shoulder some burden of health care costs in the event that it rises more than 14 percent. While health care costs rise by unexpected amounts every year, they are not anticipated to go up more than 10 percent in the next year.