Friday, May 20, 2016

PSU grad employees unionize for change

The Portland Tribune
By Shasta Kearns Moore
May 19, 2016

Graduate student employees are unionizing at Portland State University over what they see as poor working conditions and inadequate pay.

In a surprising twist, PSU management doesn’t seem too concerned about the new union joining the fray.

“We have been supportive of the work that they do,” says PSU Provost Sona Andrews, who is also vice president of Academic Affairs. “The administration and the faculty are looking forward to working with them.”

The Graduate Employees Union, which recently submitted its authorization cards to the state Employment Relations Board, would organize alongside the American Association of University Professors and the part-time faculty union, the Portland State University Faculty Association.

Ted Cooper, a graduate research assistant in computer science, says he wants to be in a union after seeing a dramatic increase in class sizes in that department over the last three years.

“I’m seeing my friends do twice as much work for the same pay and I want to do something about that,” Cooper says.

Anandi van Diepen, a graduate research assistant in urban studies and planning, says a university career has become increasingly difficult to attain.

Portland State trustees will hold special meeting to hear from students

The Oregonian
By Andrew Theen
May 18, 2016

Portland State's Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting next Wednesday with one item on the agenda: Hear from the university's students.

Pete Nickerson, the PSU trustee's chair, sent an email to all students Tuesday describing the meeting. "This will be an extended opportunity to share perspectives, insights or concerns about the University and to hear back from trustees," Nickerson wrote. "The Board has scheduled no other business for this meeting, other than to hear from and talk with students."

The meeting will occur less than two months after the trustees' March meeting was completely shut down at one time by a group of vocal students and community activists. The trustees disbanded that meeting, then reconvened in a separate basement conference room across campus, where they voted on a tuition increase with no students present.

That was the third consecutive meeting of the volunteer governing board disrupted by a group of students.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Portland State is pulling plug on its controversial payroll tax plan, will look for permanent funding source

The Oregonian
By Andrew Theen
May 6, 2016

Portland State University won't be pursuing a controversial ballot initiative this November that would've generated $40 million a year from a payroll tax on metro businesses.

PSU abruptly pulled back the payroll tax plan Friday morning at a press conference on the Park Blocks campus. The school and metro business leaders said they will team up to pursue a yet-to-be determined permanent funding source for PSU.

"This agreement is a very important breakthrough for the university and the region," President Wim Wiewel said in his opening remarks. A newly formed College Affordability and Success Coalition with big names from Portland's business world will search for a solution that brings in "a minimum of $25 million" per year by 2019.

Wiewel will chair the new coalition alongside The Standard insurance's chief executive Greg Ness. Ness said the business leaders, which includes prominent University of Oregon alum and donor Tim Boyle, understand PSU has unique funding challenges.