Faculty union ratifies new contract

The membership of the Portland State chapter of the American Association of University Professors voted to ratify their new contract agreement with the PSU administration last week.

The new contract was approved by 97 percent of PSU-AAUP’s 975 voting members. The ratification ends a nearly year-long bargaining campaign for both sides.

The original agreement was reached in the early morning of April 6 after more than 30 hours of negotiation. Both sides have hailed the agreement.

“The PSU community—faculty, students, administration and staff—can now come together for a successful and uninterrupted spring term,” PSU President Wim Wiewel said in a news release describing the agreement.

“This contract is an important step towards refocusing PSU on students and academics,” said Mary King, president of PSU-AAUP, in a press release announcing the ratification.

King added in an email that the ratification is the first step in what is being called the “Long Campaign,” described by King as an effort to “reprioritize academics and the provision of affordable, high quality public higher education at PSU.

“Our hope is that the strike authorization vote [of mid-March] was a wake-up call, and that the administration is serious about [Wiewel’s] recent commitment to attend better to the frustration of the campus community with PSU’s shift in direction…away from academic priorities and a student-centered budget,” King said.

“Academics has always been PSU’s priority,” said Scott Gallagher, PSU’s director of communications. “However, we, and higher education nationwide, are facing rising costs and ongoing disinvestment from the state. The challenge we face is how to continue providing a high quality public education without raising tuition to a point where it impedes access.”

According to an April 6 news statement from PSU, the new contract provides non-tenure-track faculty with better job security and raises all AAUP salaries to at least $40,000 per year. AAUP’s involvement in approving changes to promotion and tenure procedures is also maintained.

The new contract has been backdated to Sept. 1, 2013 and will expire on Nov. 30, 2015.