I write to you in the midst of a long and stress-filled election week. While the outcome of the presidential race is becoming clearer as election officials work to ensure every vote is counted, we are turning to the work that lies ahead.
We now have a clear sense of the makeup of the Oregon Legislature (more below). We have already begun the work of introducing ourselves, our association, and our issues to more than a dozen new state legislators. In the months ahead, we will join with our Higher Education Coalition partners to champion a legislative agenda that prioritizes education funding and introduces alternatives to austerity within our higher education system.
As in so many other areas of our society, the Covid Pandemic has helped expose how our neoliberal turn to financing higher education has left a deeply broken public higher education system. The Pandemic crisis has accelerated the turn to pushing working class students out of school, weakening or breaking tenure, and slashing the liberal arts. At the same time, it is awakening a renewed sense of higher education as one of our most precious public goods, with the potential to create engaged citizens rather than docile employees, and imaginative problem-solvers who care about their communities and not just short-term personal gain. It has also energized movements like California’s The $66 Fix to rebuild the public mission of their higher education system by increasing the quality of education and making it 100% tuition free.
Academic workers in the Pacific Northwest are also grappling with these issues and imagining bold solutions. We hope you’ll join next Friday, November 13 from 4-7pm to strategize on Organizing to Confront Academic Disaster Capitalism in an Age of Pandemics. There is no cost to registration. Racism, inequality, and student debt are intensified and more visible with COVID-19, exacerbating deep fissures and crises in higher education and giving rise to our call for action across universities and community colleges in the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest Inter-Campus Organizing Collective (PICOC) envisions a New Deal for Higher Education, not more academic austerity.
Oregon Tech-AAUP Wins Unfair Labor Practice Complaint Against University Administration!
In August, Oregon Tech-AAUP filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the administration of Oregon Tech for making changes to the stipend and release model for program directors without negotiating these changes with the union. This unilateral change in workload and compensation is one of many actions taken by the Oregon Tech administration to subvert the bargaining process. Last week, the Employment Relations Board ruled unanimously in Oregon Tech-AAUP’s favor, and the administration was ordered to cease and desist with the changes, restore the status quo, make all employees whole—including back payments of the stipends owed with interest—and to email all bargaining unit members the official notice indicating they had violated the law. This is a major win for our colleagues at Oregon Tech, and one that we hope helps push their administration to return to the table as better negotiating partners.
Oregon Election Results
As expected in Oregon, Democrats won all statewide races, including:
- Secretary of State: Shemia Fagan
- State Treasurer: Tobias Reed
- Attorney General: Ellen Rosenblum
- Senator: Jeff Merkley
Democrats Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader all won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives while Republican Cliff Bentz was elected into the seat vacated by Representative Greg Walden.
The balance in the Oregon Senate will remain unchanged at 18 Democrats and 12 Republicans, with each party flipping one seat. Dick Anderson (R-SD 5) will fill the seat vacated by Arnie Roblan, and Deb Patterson has unseated incumbent Denyc Boles (R-SD 10). Republicans netted one seat in the Oregon House where Democrats will now hold a 37-23 super majority. We are already beginning our efforts to connect with newly elected legislators to introduce them to AAUP Oregon and educate them on our priority issues.
Oregon voters approved all four of this year’s ballot measures. These ballot measures:
- Limit campaign contributions and spending, require the disclosure of political contributions and spending, and require that political ads disclose who paid for them (Measure 107);
- Increase the tax on tobacco products and expand the tax to include vaping products (Measure 108);
- Allow for therapeutic use of psilocybin, after a two year development period (Measure 109); and
- Decriminalize possession of small amounts of controlled substances while directing funding to rehabilitation services.
Find full, up-to-date results from Oregon elections here.
AAUP Oregon President