Monday, September 21, 2009

Agreement reached!

[Note: sorry this is late getting posted. Your blogger was out of town and off the grid immediately following the announcement.]

Your collective bargaining team met with the administration at 2:00 PM on Friday the 9th of September. In a marathon 16-hour negotiating session, PSU-AAUP and the PSU Administration reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) on the 2009-2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. We signed the paperwork at 4:30 AM on Saturday, 12 September.

Reflecting the country’s unusual economic circumstances, this agreement comes much earlier in the year than it has in the past. If we had not settled when we did, the administration seemed fully prepared to let the 2007-2009 CBA expire, declare impasse, and move as quickly as possible to impose cuts up to the 4.6% level. We made a number of gains through the package proposal phase of bargaining, and we felt that we had much to lose by delaying.

Thanks to the Collective Bargaining team

Many thanks to Jeff Alworth, David Hansen, Bob Liebman, Ron Narode, and Andrea Ogston (the members of the collective bargaining team) and to Phil Lesch for their hard work and commitment over the past 6 months as we met in caucus and with the administration to reach this agreement. The months of August and September have been especially busy and intense.

Highlights of the tentative agreement

Article 30: Salary and Retirement / Letter of Agreement on Salary Reductions for Academic Years 2009-2011

PSU faces financial difficulties in conjunction with the national and state economic crises. The university will take a 13% cut in state appropriations, representing a $20 million reduction. In the event of passage of ballot measures to rescind tax increases, further budget reductions are estimated at $2.1 million. PSU is retaining an emergency fund to cover this contingency. In addition, the Oregon University System has required PSU to set aside $ 2 million in reserves in the face of reduced Federal funding when the economic stimulus package ends. In response to these extraordinary circumstances, PSU-AAUP has agreed to accept salary reductions for our bargaining unit. These reductions will be applied equally across the employees work year and represent a number of mandatory unpaid days off, or leave days, as discussed below.

Snap-back: The text of the salary article remains unchanged from that in the 2007-2009 CBA. The language about salary cuts is contained in a Letter of Agreement that expires at the end of the 2009-2011 CBA. Salary levels in the 2007-2009 CBA will form the basis of bargaining for the 2011-2013 CBA.

No retroactive cuts: Salary cuts will begin on November 1, 2009 and will NOT be imposed retroactively.

Leave days: Number of leave days is rounded up to the next whole number. The first five leave days received in exchange for salary reductions will be used to cover University Closure periods. (People receiving less than 5 leave days will NOT need to use vacation days to cover the closure.) Remaining leave days may be scheduled and coordinated at the unit level, but must not disrupt class schedules.

Proration: Cuts and leave days will be prorated according to FTE.

Special conditions apply to sabbatical leaves and members with visa status considerations.

Salary reopener: By March 31, 2010, if either PSU-AAUP or the University feels that the University’s financial circumstances have changed significantly, then the Salary reduction LOA can be re-negotiated. Otherwise the LOA provisions will continue through the 2010-2011 academic year.

University salary savings: For the 2009-2010 year, cuts from our unit amount to $1.6 million in savings for the university. The aggregate cut for the 2009-2010 year is 2% due to the delay in implementation; a full year of implementation would have provided $2 million, or a 2.6% cut.

Individual salary cuts will be graduated according to the tables below.

For 12-month employees at 1.0 FTE (assuming a full year of implementation):

Annual Pay @ 1.0 FTE

Minimum Number of Leave Days per fiscal yr

% Impact on Salary

<$30,000

3 days

1.15%

≥$30,000 and <$50,000

4.2 days

1.62%

≥$50,000 and <$70,000

5.4 days

2.08%

≥$70,000 and <$90,000

6.6 days

2.54%

≥$90,000 and <$110k

7.8 days

3.00%

≥$110k and <$130k

9 days

3.46%

≥$130k and <$150k

10.2 days

3.92%

≥$150,000

11.4 days

4.38%

For 9-month employees at 1.0 FTE (assuming a full year of implementation):

Annual Pay @ 1.0 FTE

Minimum Number of Leave Days per academic year

% Impact on Salary

<$24,590

2.19 days

1.15%

≥$24,590 and <$40,984

3.07 days

1.62%

≥$40,984 and <$57,377

3.95 days

2.08%

≥$57,377 and <$73,770

4.82 days

2.54%

≥$73,770 and <$90,164

5.70 days

3.00%

≥$90,164 and <$106,557

6.58 days

3.46%

≥$106,557 and <$122,951

7.45 days

3.92%

≥$122,951

8.33 days

4.38%

Article 11: Release Time

PSU agreed to fund three additional course releases each academic year. This doubles the university-paid release time available to the union. With this time, we are better able to recruit people for important jobs, including doing financial research for the salary reopener.

Article 14: Promotion and Tenure

The article was revised to include reference to a document on the promotion of research faculty recently passed by the Faculty Senate.

Article 17: Academic Professional Faculty

This article was revised to incorporate text about flexible work schedules and the application of wage and hour law that was included in Letter of Agreement #2 in the previous contract.

Article 18: Fixed-Term Instructional and Research Faculty

  • The entire article was rewritten for clarity. Many thanks to the Fixed-Term Faculty Task Force for their efforts on this front!
  • Grant-funded research faculty members may receive contracts that run the length of the grant (up to 3 years), as allowable by OARs and OUS policy, with presidential approval.
  • The university agrees to place a minimum of 45% of fixed-term faculty with seniority on multi-year contracts. (The percentage was 30% in the prior CBA.)

Article 20: Intellectual Property/Distance Education

Revisions to this article clarify ownership of intellectual property in our academic context. In particular, the article clarifies that governance and ownership of intellectual property rights and responsibilities do not change as a result of the medium of delivery or storage (e.g., on-line, electronic media). Many thanks to the Intellectual Property Task Force for their efforts on this front!

Article 24: Working Conditions

The revised article includes reference to PSU’s Professional Standards of Conduct policy.

Article 28: Resolution of Disputes

New language addresses the university’s obligations under ‘resort to other procedures’ conditions, and discusses the authority of the arbitrator in nondiscrimination cases.

Article 31: Insurance

We retain our fully paid health insurance through PEBB for another two years. PSU will pay for premium increases of up to 5% in plan years 2010 and 2011. If rate increases exceed 5%, we will petition PEBB to use reserve funds to cover the difference. Bargaining unit members will not be asked to cover increases in insurance costs.

Letter of Agreement: Workload Task Force

The Workload Task Force will continue. Participants will discuss matters concerning workload and with move these discussions forward into appropriate campus venues, including faculty senate and CAE. If you are interested in joining this task force, please contact Michele Gamburd.

Ratification

No member of the bargaining team found this negotiating cycle pleasant, and no member is pleased to present a TA with salary reductions. This was a very difficult environment in which to bargain; the financial challenges facing PSU and the Oregon University System are real. In the end the bargaining team believes they negotiated the best agreement possible. All are proud that the rates of reduction we negotiated for PSU-AAUP bargaining unit members are lower than those accepted by Oregon state and municipal workers, are lower than the cuts imposed at other OUS campuses to date, and are lower than the 4.6% that administrators have had to endure.

The collective bargaining team recommends that the Tentative Agreement be ratified.

Everyone who is a union member as of September 21, 2009 will be eligible to vote on the ratification of the contract.

Fair share fee payers are not eligible to vote.

We will be using the Helios Online Voting System for the ratification vote. Members will receive an email message with a link to the election site by Monday September 28, 2009. If you do not receive an email with the link, please let Phil know at phil(at)psuaaup(dot)net. Voting will close one week later, at the end of the day on Monday, 5 October.

The full text of the Tentative Agreement is available online here. We encourage members to evaluate the TA before the vote opens, and to vote early.

Bargaining update meeting

PSU-AAUP will hold a bargaining update meeting on Tuesday, 22 September from 1-3, location TBA. (Note: Our meeting is immediately before Convocation.) Snacks will be served, and the bargaining team will be present to let you know more about the tentative agreement and answer questions. Please also feel free to contact me at gamburdm(at)pdx(dot)edu for further details.

In solidarity,

Michele Gamburd, VP Collective Bargaining
For the PSU-AAUP Collective Bargaining Team

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Important Announcement: Fall Membership Drive

I wanted to pass along this very important communication you may already have gotten via email from our director, Phil Lesch. It speaks for itself, but as a member of the bargaining team, I'd like to throw in my two cents. Unions live and die by one simple metric: the degree to which we can hang together. Sometimes we forget the adjective "collective" when we talk about bargaining, but it's actually the key part of the phrase. Together--collectively--we have a voice and some measure of control over our jobs. The more of us their are who are signed up as full members, the more influence we have at the bargaining table. I've seen it, and I want to let you know that it's not just a talking point.

Okay, enough from me; here's Phil...

As you know, contract negotiations are hitting a critical stage. OUS is proposing LARGE salary cuts, along with draconian changes to contract language that will make it difficult for us to negotiate restoration of those cuts next year, or ever.

Our success at the table depends on solidarity. Membership in PSU-AAUP is that solidarity.

  • We stand for parity with other state workers: we seek an equal shared sacrifice across the system.
  • We stand for a fair contract that does not force the risks of management onto the backs of faculty.
  • We stand for quality. The financial crisis must not be used to exacerbate compression and inversion that would compromise the education PSU delivers.

If we are going to be able to deliver on these goals, we must have everyone in the unit standing with us as we fight. We need the Fair Share Fee Payers in your department, in your school, as members.

And we need YOU to recruit them.

For every Fair Share Fee Payer that you sign up as a member, we will load $10 onto a gift card at a local merchant for you. There is no limit. If you recruit every Fair Share Fee Payer in the unit, we will load $10 for every last one of them. We are that serious about building solidarity NOW.

If you would like a list of Fair Share Fee Payers in your department or in your school, send me an email at phil(at)psuaaup(dot)net.

This offer is available to all bargaining unit members. To get credit for a member recruit, write your name on the referral line of the application. You can download an application from http://www.psuaaup.net/Application(w-referal).pdf Keep a copy of the application in case our records get screwy, and then send it to us at address below. We will provide the gift cards at any time you ask: after one recruit loaded with $10, or you can wait until you have $1000 to spend. It’s up to you.

We are offering training on how to approach your co-workers with a PSU-AAUP application in hand. The Collective Bargaining Congress of AAUP National will be hosting its Fall Conference at PSU October 2-3, 2009. It is free, and you are welcome to attend any and all of the events. Session 2A, which is Saturday morning October 3 8:45-10:15AM is “Organizing Training: Boosting Faculty Activism/The Office Visit.” Registration is required for all events. Download the registration form: http://www.psuaaup.net/2009CBCFallRegistrationForm.doc. The Deadline for registration is September 25.

This is the most severe negotiating climate we have ever faced. We must organize, we must demonstrate, and we must succeed. Everyone in the bargaining unit must be working toward that end.

Thank you for your support, and for your effort. Together, we can succeed in delivering a fair settlement.

Keep the Faith,

Phil Lesch

Executive Director

Sunday, September 6, 2009

PSU-SEIU Settles with Portland State

The announcement came out at about 5pm Saturday night. SEIU calls the deal "substantially equivalent to the agreement that DAS workers reached with the Governor six weeks ago." Details, from the SEIU website:
    1. We protected fully paid health care premiums for full-time employees and froze premiums for the part-time plan. We are now one of only two states in the country where full time state employees don't pay for part of their health care premiums.
    2. Instead of management's plan for a two-year step freeze, we won back steps in the second year of the contract. Members who get steps in July, August, or September 2009 will have those steps rolled back on October 1, 2009, but those steps will be restored on 10/1/10, when the step freeze will end and regular step increments will resume.


    3. We forced management to withdraw proposals for unlimited furloughs and an across-the-board pay cut!


    4. Furlough days will be scheduled as follows:


    Monthly pay of $2,450 or below: 8 days


    Monthly pay $2,451 to $3,105: 12 days


    Monthly pay $3,106 to $5,733: 14 days


    Monthly pay $5,734 or higher: 16 days



    "These tiers are similar but not identical to those in the DAS contract. We tried hard to get rid of the fourth tier, but in this area, we could not move the management bargainers. However, we note that because the threshold for the top tier is quite high, these tiers actually result in a lower average number of furlough days than the DAS contract requires."

    Next up: bargaining between PSU and AAUP on Friday at 2pm.

    Saturday, September 5, 2009

    "The Great Pumpkin is Not Coming"

    Some bad news delivered badly:
    All seven Oregon public universities would lose state money over the next two years, but some, including Portland State, Oregon State and the University of Oregon, would lose more than others in a distribution plan approved Friday by the State Board of Higher Education's finance committee.

    Even with federal stimulus money, the universities will see an overall 8 percent drop in their 2009-11 general fund budget from the previous biennium -- to $820 million. But the decline would be 16 percent for the University of Oregon and 11 percent each for Portland State University and Oregon State University under the distribution plan.
    This is obviously a blow to workers and faculty hoping to see some equity in the way cuts strike state workers. What adds insult to injury is the way OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner delivered the news--mockingly. Noting that universities are going to have to get by with less state support, he chided universities with this one-liner: "The Great Pumpkin is not coming."

    In other words: "Quit your whining. Suck it up. You've been living large for a long time, and now the salad days are done."

    (PSU faculty and staff, you have been living large, right? Regular raises, salaries competitive with other universities, that kind of thing? Oh, wait.)

    You might also find President Wim Wiewel's response less than reassuring. While acknowledging that PSU has "enjoyed" massive growth in the past five years (15%, 3,500 students), that it will experience growth again this year (though the University refuses to use the added revenues from that growth in budget models), and that it has therefore suffered disproportionately, Wiewel offered a tepid, "Everyone has to share in the sacrifice."

    These are people's jobs; their lives. These decisions have real-world consequences. You'd think the Chancellor and President would reassure their valuable university faculty that they understand that.

    Stay tuned.

    Thursday, September 3, 2009

    Oakland University AAUP on Strike

    Members of the Oakland University chapter of AAUP (in suburban Detroit, MI) went on strike this morning.
    Among the issues on the bargaining table are details of how the medical school will be integrated into the contract, cuts in summer pay, no new increases in salary, elimination of some health insurance plans, hiring of non-tenure track faculty and elimination of research leaves, according to the union.
    This is a troubling situation--but, unfortunately, by no means unique. The Oakland administration has used the troubled economy as cover to enact brutal cuts to faculty. In the locution we at PSU have become used to:
    "The university hopes to reach a feasible and equitable settlement shortly," the University said in a press release. "The difficult economic circumstances we face, however, necessitate the university be extremely prudent."
    Yet this isn't about prudence. Figuring the professors were in far too weak a position to fight back, the university decided to see how many concessions they could force. According to the AAUP chapter, in addition to money-saving concessions mentioned by the Detroit News, the University is also pushing to weaken governance provisions.

    And all of this is unnecessary:

    An earlier meeting, sponsored by AAUP in Dodge Hall for faculty and students, included presentations which discussed the financial picture of the university based on audited financial reports. The point was to illustrate that the university can afford to provide pay raises to staff.

    "My conclusion is that Oakland University is in excellent financial condition and is in better shape than just about any other institution in Michigan," said Professor Rudy Richtenbaum, university finance consultant for the national AAUP.

    It would be nice to report that the Oregon University System isn't using these same tactics. But, based on the recent offers by the PSU administration, it looks like this is par for the course.

    Things may get worse before they get better--

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Bargaining in the News

    Last week, David Steves wrote a clear, fair article in the Eugene Register-Guard about the negotiations between OUS and university workers. It's principally about SEIU's dealings--mainly because the University of Oregon is the paper's focus, and OU professors aren't unionized--but Steves points out the head-scratching difficulty in getting contracts signed:

    Until now, a labor agreement by the state’s biggest public employees union and state government smoothed the way for a quick settlement between Oregon’s public universities and its unionized classified workers — mainly those who hold clerical, custodial and maintenance jobs.

    Despite the ratification last week of such a contract between the state of Oregon and the Service Employees International Union Local 503, the Oregon University System has so far been unwilling to use the statewide labor contract as a model for an agreement with its 4,000 union-represented classified workers.

    As we gear up to put pressure on OUS/PSU for our own contract, this point is central: we want parity with other state workers. If one deal is good enough for Oregon state workers (SEIU-DAS), why should other workers get a worse deal? More to the point, why should university workers, whose paychecks are only partly paid by taxpayers, take a larger hit?

    Bargaining Update for August 31, 2009

    Bargaining has reached a critical stage. As you will read below:
    • At the table on 28 August, PSU-AAUP and the University exchanged proposals on salary and a number of other issues, the details of which follow below.
    • The University is anxious to proceed quickly with salary cuts. The tone at the table reflects their urgency in this matter, and we will have only a short period of time within which to wrap up negotiations.
    • It is clear that OUS wishes to use the current economic situation as an opportunity to eviscerate key elements in the CBA.
    • Read on to learn how you can participate in mobilizing against disproportionate and unequal salary cuts!

    PSU within the Oregon University System
    • In contrast to the situation at UO and OSU, where we hear that faculty face few if any cuts, PSU employees are being asked to take pay reductions that greatly exceed those experienced by other state workers in Oregon.
    • Inequity in salary cuts suggests that OUS is yet again trying to force PSU to subsidize other OUS institutions. Your bargaining team is fighting to limit unnecessary cuts to your wages.
    • The bargaining team also suspects that OUS is shielding UO and OSU instructional faculty from cuts in an attempt to discourage unionizing drives on those campuses, while simultaneously trying to weaken bargaining units at other OUS institutions (including our own).

    Key issues at the bargaining table

    PSU-AAUP has consistently made clear to the University that we are willing to work quickly to help the administration face the current budgetary crisis. The University has in turn been relatively open with the bargaining team's salary subcommittee regarding university finances. Discussions have revealed the following key points:
    • The University's salary model is conservative. It includes a large reserve for possible future budget cuts and other unanticipated shortfalls. In addition, it models enrollment growth at 0%, even though the forecast calls for 3.3% growth. (1% enrollment growth is roughly equivalent to $1 million in tuition revenue.)
    • The University's chosen strategy is to build reserves from salary savings. The administration suggests that should these reserves not be needed, they will be spent according to the priorities of the President and the Provost. (Note that restoration of faculty salaries is not at the top of this list.) In addition, the administration has indicated that OUS can "sweep up" financial reserves held at member campuses. This means that reserves generated by salary savings might not even be spent on our campus.
    • PSU-AAUP's chosen strategy is to offer speedy and generous cuts up front, but in amounts that do not exceed PSU's current needs. We have made clear our willingness to discuss further cuts should they prove necessary. We are leery of accepting extra cuts on the unwritten promise of possible later restoration, particularly given PSU's disadvantageous position within OUS and the probability that PSU's disproportionate sacrifices will be used to support other institutions.

    Our offer
    • In reply to a salary offer made by the University on 14 August 2009, your bargaining team proposed tiered one-time salary cuts for the 2009-2010 academic year. In our initial counter-proposal, we proposed cuts ranging from .77% - 1.35%, reflecting between 2 and 3.5 mandatory unpaid days off for 12-month employees (prorated for 9-month employees). Salary reductions would be deducted in equal amounts across the member's work year.
    • In their initial offer on 8-14, the administration had proposed to rewrite Article 30: Salary and Retirement with reduced minimum salaries for ranked instructional faculty and with reduced salary ranges for APs. PSU-AAUP counter-proposed that the text of Article 30 remain as in the 2007-2009 Collective Bargaining Agreement. We proposed that salary cuts and/or FTE reductions should be handled in a Letter of Agreement (LOA) that expires at the end of the academic year. This strategy would preserve the gains made in the past contract negotiations.
    • We further proposed that revenue increases from any enrollment growth over the first 1% or $1 million be used to offset cuts to faculty salaries.
    • In addition, we proposed that special conditions should govern certain categories of employees, for example people paid from grant money or student fees, people on sabbatical, people with visa-status issues, people near retirement, and people who would drop below .5 FTE should not be affected by cuts.
    • Finally, we proposed that the terms and conditions of the Letter of Agreement governing salary cuts be renegotiated in April 2010, with each side bringing 2 more articles to the table (a well-established bargaining strategy that facilitates settlement). To accommodate this extra service, we asked the University to fund buy-outs for PSU-AAUP members to take part in the bargaining re-opener.

    University's counter-proposal
    • PSU received our proposal mid-morning and countered at 1:00 PM with a package offer. Their offer showed some movement on salary. In contrast to their prior proposal in which $6.1 million would be realized on salary savings across campus (from members in all three labor unions), the savings would be $5.2 million under this model. Note that this figure is still greater than the $3.9 million figure we have heard on campus during the past year. Note also that the University's model suggests that PSU-AAUP is in effect bargaining for all three campus unions (PSU-AAUP, AFT, and SEIU).
    • The University's proposed salary cuts range from 1.9% - 4.6%, reflecting between 5 and 12 mandatory unpaid days off per academic year for 12-month employees, prorated for 9-month employees. Under the University's proposal, cuts would continue for a second year, unless renegotiated. Under this proposal, such negotiations would discuss only salary, without opening other articles.
    • Despite voicing no arguments against placing language on salary cuts in a LOA, the University persists in making reductions in the text of Article 30 itself. This move erodes on a permanent basis the salary gains won in the last contract negotiations.
    • Also of concern are proposed changes to Article 11: Release Time. In the past the University has recognized that collective bargaining benefits both the administration and the union, and it has paid for half of the release time provided for the bargaining team. In this proposal, the University would no longer pay for any release time. This proposed change diverges radically from past practice and carries strong overtones of union-busting. The bargaining team believes that OUS is using the current economic situation as an opportunity to eviscerate the contract. Only our effective mobilization can counter their move.


    What happens next?

    It's time for a bit of political action! The members of the bargaining team need you to add your collective voice to ours.
    • August 31st marks the end-date of the 2007-2009 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which has been extended until 11 September 2009. It is entirely possible that the University will refuse to extend the contract beyond 9-11, forcing us to mediation, impasse, and the imposition of their final offer.
    • In the next month, we need to put pressure on the University to let them know that we refuse to let PSU subsidize budget shortfalls at other OUS institutions, and that we are unwilling to allow the University to accumulate large reserves from salary savings with no clear mechanism for restoration.
    • Faculty support for and participation in union activities will be key to our success!
    • Here's what you can do: Spend a couple of hours in the next month to write letters and emails to the PSU administration, members of the State Board of Higher Education, the Oregonian, Oregon State legislators, and key figures at the Chancellor's Office; volunteer to design and post posters; attend PSU-AAUP rallies; and urge fair-share dues payers and new faculty to sign up as AAUP members.
    • In addition, The OUS chapter of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) is being offered terms significantly worse than those that other state SEIU workers have accepted. For more details, go here. Support our local SEIU chapter members in their mobilization efforts! SEIU will hold a rally in the Park Blocks on Tuesday September 1st- please attend and show our solidarity!
    • Check back at the blog or contact me (gamburdm(at)pdx(dot)edu), Jeff Alworth alworth(at)pdx(dot)edu, Phil Lesch phil(at)psuaaup(dot)net, or Susan Harlan harlans(at)pdx(dot)edu to find out how you can get involved.

    Bargaining update meeting

    A bargaining update meeting will be scheduled soon - time and date to be announced. Please attend and bring a colleague with you!
    Keep posted

    In solidarity,
    The PSU-AAUP Bargaining Team