Our union was very active this year, and the volunteer member-leaders who you’ve elected to lead our union concluded our work on June 8, with PSU-AAUP’s second annual strategic planning retreat. We set 2017-18 goals for all major areas of activity: President, Collective Bargaining, Member Organizing, Grievances, Academic Freedom, Campus and Community Solidarity, Legislative Action, and Communications.
By way of thanks to the union colleagues who made this a successful year, I would like to share an overview of a small sampling of our accomplishments.
Our Academic Class in Salem
Our academic class made an impact on many important legislative discussions around bills in in Salem impacting higher education during the current legislative session. PSU-AAUP collaborated tightly with United Academics-UO, and our statewide AAUP-Oregon, to make this happen. Our members engaged in volunteer legislative action reviewed hundreds of bills that could potentially impact higher education, met weekly to discuss them, and in the end we offered testimony on a few critical bills. One success stands out: a bill creating a Post-Doctoral Scholar position which reduces costs for Principal Investigators while preserving retirement benefits for colleagues on Postdocs. I want to extend special recognition to Ramin Farahmandpour (Graduate School of Education) for leading our legislative action committee, and Erna Gelles (Public Administration) for leading the AAUP-Oregon statewide legislative action committee.
Correcting Past Inequities: Inversion & Compression
David Hansen (School of Business), our VP for Collective Bargaining, deserves special recognition for our work in the joint labor-management committee charged with developing the procedures (comparator universities and allocation formulas) for the distribution of an equity, inversion, and compression pool of funds we won in our 2015-19 collective bargaining agreement. It has been a difficult and contentious process at times, and we’ve been frustrated with the delays. But thanks to David, and to Shafiqur Rahman (School of Business) and Leanne Serbulo (University Studies, and past VP-CB), who rounded out the “indispensable trio,” who’ve been relentless in the defense of our members impacted by years of cumulative inequities.
New Member Caucuses
To broaden, deepen, and enrich our conception of what it means to build a just and rewarding university, PSU-AAUP members formed five new caucuses: Women’s, LGBTQ, Members of Color, Members with Disabilities, and a Parents & Caregivers Caucus. Thanks to Kellie Gallagher and Jennifer Kerns, the two VPs for Membership Organizing this year, for supporting the formation of these caucuses! Thanks to every one of the colleagues who participated in the launching of your caucus, and those who’ve volunteered to co-facilitate the planning meetings of your caucuses this summer.
Our membership is at an all-time high (85%), and our goal is to become a smarter, activist, union, that preserves a deep commitment and respect for the values of solidarity, volunteer service and educational justice that animate our work. In these times, to defend these values we are forced to do battle with concerted efforts, through politics and court action, to weaken us (and all unions). Under the dishonest language of “right-to-work,” special interests who continue looking for ways to redistribute wealth upwards — away from public funding for a robust public education system, and away from workers — deviously work to kill unions in the United States by finding ways to make it legal for individuals to stop paying dues and then legally forcing our unions to still provide them with services and benefits. Free-loading and free-riding are bad habits, and antisocial behavior, which some elites swear by, and they would love to see us do the same. Colleagues, would any of us demand that our colleagues pay for us while we shirk and free-ride? Absolutely not! At PSU and in Oregon we intend to keep it that way!
We strengthen a social norm through active network organizations (yes, I am a sociologist). In the next year I want you to look forward to a new face-to-face member network, facilitated by Jennifer Kerns, our VP for Membership and Organizing, and a wonderful and talented new organizer, Jana Rygas, and innovative cyber-networking by our new Communications Committee, led by our Nancy Eichsteadt (AP, Graduate School of Education) and Emily Ford (Library faculty), both members of our Executive Council. Additional thanks to Nancy, for representing us statewide, as AAUP-Oregon VP for Communications, and acting as our community solidarity liaison.
Many thanks to every one of you, the over 1200 PSU-AAUP members and associate members — those are were active in leadership positions, those of you active in work groups and task forces, and all of you — and to our staff, Phil Lesch and Sabrina Balderama. Your daily labor at our university is a expression of dedication and love for our students and our communities.