Time To Ratify!

Time To Celebrate! 
Ratification Party and Membership Meeting
June 6, 2016 @ 4:00pm-6:00pm
PSU Viking Game Room and Bowling Alley
Basement of the Smith Memorial Student Union Building at 1825 SW Broadway

We’re hosting a membership meeting, Q&A, and vote at 5:00 pm to ratify our new contract and celebrate the end of the school year. It isn’t an official agreement until our members weigh in and this is your chance.

Please bring your family for free bowling, video games, popcorn, billiards, food and drinks! RSVP HERE.

Agreement Reached!

After almost a year of bargaining, on Friday May 20th, just after 8pm, our PSUFA bargaining team and the PSU Administration finally concluded negotiations. We reached an agreement that we will be recommending to our members for ratification in the coming weeks.

Our new collective bargaining agreement will include: 

  • 1-year appointments after faculty have taught 8 credits or for 2 year, whichever comes first;
  • 2-year appointments after faculty have taught 20 credits or for 3 years, whichever comes first plus received an evaluation;
  • Standardized, faculty-friendly criteria and processes for evaluations (for faculty seeking multi-year contracts);
  • Changes to our letter of hire and appointment processes in order to increase transparency about expected class size, resources, etc;
  • Recurring orientations for part-time faculty;
  • New language to protect faculty from harassment, bullying, and unsafe conditions;
  • Pay for participation on committees or for doing curricular work (Chair approval needed) at approximately $25/per hour;
  • Pay for independent study at a rate of either $50 per credit or $100, whichever is greater, (Chair approval needed);
  • 2 annual university-wide awards specifically for Adjunct Faculty, 1 for scholarship and 1 for teaching;
  • A $15,000 increase to our Professional Development fund (now totals $100,000 per year), plus any remaining funds will roll-over at the end of the fiscal year;
  • A $50,000 increase to our Healthcare Fund (now totals $225,000 a year), plus any remaining funds will roll-over at the end of the fiscal year;
  • Pay for faculty in the case of late appointments and cancelled classes — $50 per credit;
  • Extension of the Employee Assistance Program to all part-time faculty;
  • 4% increases to the minimum per-credit rate for instructional faculty and researchers for the next two years, raises effective Fall 2016 and Fall 2017;
  • $8.92 increases to per-credit rates above the minimum, raises effective Fall 2016 and Fall 2017;
  • Length-of-service increases to start in the Fall of 2017:
    • Faculty who’ve taught for 3-5 years will receive a .25% increase
    • 5-7 years of service – .50% increase
    • 7-9 years of service – .75% increase
    • 9+ years of service – 1.0% increase

This Agreement will be expire June 30th, 2020, with an economic re-opener so that we can re-negotiate wages and benefits in 2018.

More on Friday’s session:

Friday began with open discussion of process as we attempted to regroup and revisit economic options we’d discussed in our last session. We also had report backs from the Administration about processes for paying adjuncts for committee work and heard some unfortunate information about our Faculty Education Fund. The Admin team was firm about the supposed new reality that the Education fund couldn’t be increased except nominally because it functions with tuition remissions. We had previously discussed substantial increases to the fund and so this came as a bit of a blow to our team.

As the day progressed and we tried costing out different options. Our team members expressed frustration with the numbers the Admin’s team were proposing as viable options for wage increases. PSUFA team members started asking questions about how the small raises, reflected our supposedly shared interest in recognizing a marginalized faculty group.

Team members spoke about the importance of recognition through fair wages and described the gap in equity between part and full-time faculty’s minimum pay. The administration team listened, but also shared their different interpretations of equity. They were looking for our wages to be on par with comparator institutions. We argued that there is a national consensus about adjunct wages being systematically (and problematically) low, so why would it make sense to compare to other institutions? Our part-time faculty are diverse in terms of income level, but the majority make the minimum per-credit rate, many are on food stamps, many are struggling to make ends meet, many want teaching to be a career and it isn’t sustainable. Regardless, we should be getting equal pay for equal work. Adjuncts teach the same classes as non-tenure-track full-time faculty for hundreds of dollars less a credit.

After this heartfelt and serious expression from our team, the Admin asked to take a break. It was during this caucus that we decided to take a new direction. Our frustration was clear; we weren’t making much headway and the afternoon was upon us. We decided to create a proposal and move slightly away from the Affinity IBB process.

The rest of the day was spent exchanging and discussing proposals. It was clear that the Administration  wanted us to agree to a long-term contract – locking in 5 years of small increases to our wages and benefits in exchange for what they saw was a relatively generous increase to our per-credit minimum rate up front. They also shared that the length-of-service increases that we’d been talking about for weeks, were not going to be feasible until about 2018 and they wanted them off the table. This was revealing–they had not done their homework and we were angry.

Our team and the PSUFA observers who were present felt strongly that LOS increases were important, and that a long contract like the Admin was proposing wouldn’t benefit us. We needed the ability to at least negotiate economics again in 2 years, especially if PSU’s revenue increased due to changes at the state level. We were still committed to closing the pay gap.

After spending the afternoon exchanging proposals, we decided we had to stand fast with our last proposal or forgo a longer-year contract all together, which both teams wanted. After a long caucus, the admin team came back, reviewed our last proposal and said simply: “we agree.”

The work continues! For now, we will be working to move the economic agreements into contract language, and you will be hearing from us soon about a member meeting and ratification party. Then two years of organizing! When we are back at the table in 2018, we want to have the power to build on all we started here, compose a dynamite bargaining team, strategize, and demand more!

 

 

No agreement on wages; the process continues

 

Thank you to all the observers who came out to support our affinity bargaining day and to those who have sent good wishes. We felt supported by the presence of the members and allies who came out on the 6th. We had a long day, our session started at 9am and went until 10pm. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach agreement on wages and benefits, but we feel hopeful that we laid some important groundwork. The administration’s team seemed to understand how important increases to our funds for professional development and healthcare are. We also came to possible agreements on a number of smaller issues.

As the day progressed, our team felt they had to battle to stay in the organic, interest-focused process that affinity bargaining is known for. About halfway through the day the administration’s team took a long caucus to come up with a full proposal that they then presented. This changed the mood of the day considerably. While there were certainly aspects of the proposal that were positive, such as wage rates for independent study courses, access to the Employee Assistance Program, and roll-overs in our benefits funds (so that any unspent money would accrue in the accounts rather than be returned to the University at the end of the fiscal year), it became clear that there was a substantial discrepancy between our parties in terms of wage increases.

While we felt heard in our desire to address pay disparity amongst part-time faculty, we still have some work to do to impress upon the administration how necessary substantial raises are, especially for the majority of faculty who make the minimum per credit rate. It was frustrating to end without a settlement, especially when our team has been at this for so long, but we plan to keep pushing. We’d rather spend another long day and night at the table then settle for way less than what we think part-time faculty deserve.

The administration’s team has stated over and over that they have a limited amount of money to work with: fiscal year 2015’s budget plus 3%. We want to do more than negotiate about how that money is allocated, but to negotiate about how adjunct faculty and instruction overall are prioritized at PSU.

May 20th will be another full day of negotiation. Stay tuned for more details.

Big Day for PSUFA

Tomorrow is our big bargaining day! We will finally be talking economics with the University administration. Thanks to everyone who filled out our recent survey, it gave our team a sense of members’ priorities and emphasized the importance of significant wage increases. If you can spare a moment of your day to come observe and support, we’re organizing a small member turnout. If you can come, email Anna at vicepresident[at]psufa[dot]org.

 

Upcoming Affinity Bargaining!

After a long hiatus, our team will be back at the table with the PSU administration for Affinity Bargaining, the special one-day IBB negotiation model specifically designed for economics. As our team prepares for that crucial — and hopefully final — day of bargaining on May 6, we need to know what economic issues are most important to you. We will be negotiating around the following:

  • Wages
    • Longevity increases
    • Wage rates for faculty making the minimum per credit rate and for those above the minimum
    • Wage rates or additional support for over-enrolled classes and online teaching
  • Benefits
    • Professional Development Fund
    • Faculty Education Fund
    • Health Care Fund
    • PERS Pick-up
    • Campus Amenities
    • Parking and Transportation
  • Extra-Instructional Compensation
    • Pay for Late Appointments and Cancelled Classes
    • Pay for Committee Work
    • Adjunct Excellence Award
    • Compensation for Collective Bargaining
    • Sick Leave

We will be guided by the interests the two teams jointly outlined at the table. Some of which include:

  • Fairness
  • Responsiveness to needs and local economic trends
  • Equity with comparators, amongst part-time faculty and with full-time faculty
  • Hope for the future
  • Sustainable career paths
  • Healthy working/learning conditions
  • Recognition of seniority and outstanding contributions
  • Recruiting and retaining diverse faculty
  • Respect for available resources
  • Trust and maintenance of a good labor management relationship
  • Financial sustainability for the University
  • Having people feel they have a stake in the university’s success etc.

Reading through this list, it is pretty clear the distinct interests of the two teams. We will have to challenge the University to acknowledge the enormous contributions of adjunct faculty and push them to shift their funding priorities.

If you can, please take a few minutes to respond to the survey below, which will be open for 1 week. In addition, join us for bargaining on the 6th, come observe and let the Administration see our strength in numbers. Stay tuned for more information. And…

Take the Survey

Update after March 4th Negotiation Session

 

 

Overall, in this session we completed some unfinished business, and we discussed issues related to member well-being and rights, which aren’t sufficiently addressed in our current contract. We also set the stage for our major economics discussion.

We finalized a Letter of Agreement setting plans in motion for On-boarding and Orientation for adjuncts. Right now, there is nothing in place to orient new part-time faculty to the University. PSUFA has attempted to address the situation by organizing an Adjunct Day each of the past two years. While successful, we haven’t reached a majority of adjuncts who can benefit from orientation processes. Now, working jointly with Academic Affairs, we’ll begin to develop such a process.

We also included language in the Facilities section that may, in the future, provide better workspace for our members. We discussed extending library access, and agreed that an adjunct can get extended access by requesting it from their chair. We also revised our section on Safe Conditions, outlining clearer procedures and protections to ensure that part-time faculty members have recourse in situations of hazardous building conditions, or harassment, threats, and bullying. We also strengthened language in our sections on Disputes and Intellectual Property.

The most exciting aspect of the negotiation session was a continuation of a discussion about setting up a University award (or awards) specifically for adjunct faculty. It was suggested that adjuncts can vie for some existing university wide awards, but we are at a disadvantage when competing with full time faculty. Both teams agreed that adjuncts need their own award and that it should have some monetary component. We agreed to develop a Letter of Agreement that will set a working group in motion to develop an awards procedure and reception process.

Last but not least: We began our discussion of economics by defining 3 basic areas that will define our economic negotiations: wages (including salary, pay bumps for longevity, online teaching rate, teaching assistants for certain large classes, class size in general), benefits (including the existing 3 programs-health care, faculty ed, professional development-plus parking/transportation, access to ASRC and EAP) and extra-instructional compensation (compensation for committee work, for bargaining, sick leave, and the adjunct excellence award that will be created by the committee).

Next session will be a clean up session for outstanding issues other than economics and a report from a subcommittee composed of members of both teams who met to get more information and clarification from the Administration’s economic presentation and budget model which we saw during our the 2/26 session.

After that it is to Affinity Bargaining an accelerated IBB process for negotiating economic issues. Stay tuned for more.

 

 

 

 

Make your presence known!

As our PSUFA bargaining team works to get a new contract that includes greater job security, increased wages and benefits, we can help them by making ourselves visible as valuable members of the PSU faculty who happen to hold adjunct positions.

How can we increase our visibility at this busy time of the term? By taking a break at the Second Thursday Social Club, sponsored by the Office of Academic Innovation (OAI).

This is a monthly social occasion to which all faculty are invited, but few adjuncts attend. If we can take some time – for ourselves and to meet others – we can remind our colleagues of the many adjuncts who deserve fair treatment at PSU.

Come to the Second Thursday Social Club on 4 – 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 10, in the Office of Academic Innovation, 209 Smith Mezzanine, and on your nametag be sure to write ADJUNCT along with your name.

For more information go to http://www.pdx.edu/academic-affairs/second-thursday-social-club

See you there!!

Moving forward: Faculty share stories at the table and more

After some slow days of bargaining, the negotiations this week felt like a real step forward in our process. On the 16th we had productive day, both parties presented substantive data and information for our economic negotiations. We were also able to completely wrap up and agree to our sections about rank and title.

The day began with one of our PSUFA team members who gave a presentation detailing the results from the bargaining surveys that we conducted this year, one specifically about benefits, and the other about the economic status of our adjuncts more broadly. Among the results of the latter survey, over half of the faculty surveyed work at two or more other institutions, a significant amount are on public assistance, and a striking majority would like to teach full-time.

One of the most important parts of the morning was when seven adjunct faculty members testified about their experiences at PSU, specifically speaking about the economic realities of part-time teaching and about how the benefits funds (our healthcare, professional development, and education funds) have supported them over the years. We heard from Amy Duncan, DeEtte Beghtol Waleed, Lisa Marsh, Young Juo Han, Michael Wells, Elisa Satumo Paasche, and Jennifer Young. They were all eloquent and demonstrated a high level of commitment to their work and an insistence that supporting adjunct faculty is incredibly important–that benefits shouldn’t even be thought about as benefits, they should be considered rights.

The next order of the day was a presentation by the Administration team about the budget model that they prepared to make costing out increases to wages and benefits funds easier for both parties. They walked us through the model, explaining their calculations, assumptions, and methodology. Also included in the model was a proposal for a length-of-service increase, which would mean that based on the years a faculty member teaches at the University their per-credit rate would increase by a certain percent. Beyond that proposal (which included in our assessments, included some unsurprisingly conservative figures) the Administration didn’t include any proposals or numbers, and we didn’t begin any actual negotiations around increases. Regardless, it was an incredibly helpful introduction to where the Administration stands with regards to the economic conversation. And before our session devoted entirely to economic topics at the beginning of next month, we will have time to assess the accuracy of their costing model.

In the latter half of the day we were able to clarify sections of the contract about ranks and titles for research appointments. At this point our contract has almost no language about the specific appointments of researchers. We reached some difficulty in insisting on senior ranks for adjunct researchers, since the Administration remained firm that they didn’t see enough of a problem with the basic rank structure for researchers. This is something we decided to devote more research and time to in future years, but we settled on a tentative agreement that clearly specifies the ranks of Adjunct Research Assistant and Adjunct Research Associate and creates a simple way to advance from Assistant to Associate.

As we wrapped up the day we revisited our outstanding issues and made plans to address them. Think of us today as we talk Member Rights, which includes facilities, anti-bullying, disputes, library privileges etc., and review a plan for the new orientation and on-boarding procedures for adjunct faculty.

Are the spaces set aside for adjuncts in your department adequate? Do you have a desk? Do you have a place to meet with students privately? Do you have access to office supplies and copying? If you don’t, consider writing a short statement about it and sending to bargaining team member Anna Gray at anna.christa[at]gmail[dot]com. Stay tuned for more!

Ranks, Titles, and Economics

At our last session in January, we got a bit of a slow start as we moved towards a tentative agreement on changes to the process for advancement in academic rank and title. Trying to create a standard timeline or credit amount for advancement that can apply to all adjuncts is difficult considering there are those who teach 1 class a year and those that teach 4 or 5. After some deliberation, and trying to configure a system that wouldn’t be wholly different from the full-time faculty’s system, we came to agreement that eligibility for advancement would come after faculty have taught for a minimum of 3 years or 24 credits. We postponed the conversation about the ways that researchers would advance to a later session.

At this point advancement in rank and title bears no connection to an increase in pay. That is what we will be talking about next, and while we are excited to get to the real meaty part of the negotiations, it also feels a bit daunting as this is traditionally where things get a bit more adversarial between the parties.

The latter half of the day was devoted to opening up the topic of economics. We had planned to have with us some facilitators from the State Employee Relations Board, and they introduced us to a nifty program to make our interest-based discussions a bit more ordered and manageable. We used their program to outline our economic topics: wages, benefits, and extra-instructional compensation, as well as the 20 main interests that will guide our discussions of these topics. As we began to flesh out these 3 topics, there was some heat around our mention of class size. We know that the number of students relative to pay matters to adjuncts in a different way than it matters to the University and it seems important to insist on discussing the potential of different pay rates for under or over-enrollment our classes.

In our afternoon discussion the PSUFA team members emphasized the significant financial need of many adjuncts, the importance of pay equity with full-time faculty, and the greater stability and recognition that increased salaries and benefits would provide for us. By the end of the day it was clear that we have a lot of work to do to wrap up a great contract, and there are clearly things that the administration wants to leave out of negotiations this time around. Our goal is to push ahead, have the hard conversations, and get some real material recognition for the contributions we make to PSU.

Negotiating Rank and Titles for Adjunct Faculty and Researchers

This coming week we will be back at the table to wrap-up our discussions about academic rank and title. We have been pushing for a simplified process by which part-time faculty and researchers could hold professorial titles if they have a terminal degree in their field and advance in their academic rank from Instructor to Senior Instructor, Research Assistant to Senior Research Assistant and so on, if they do not.

Titles may be a minor issue for some, but for others stagnating in rank (as well as pay) feels like a symptom of a more systemic lack of recognition and marginalization of adjunct faculty and researchers at our University. This discussion is complicated by the potentially confusing ways that promotion and tenure guidelines and rank for the full-time faculty intersect with our adjunct titles and ranks. That said, after much clarification we feel optimistic about wrapping up the issue very soon.

Beyond this week, we are looking forward to opening articles of our contract related to economics, working on a system of longevity increases for part-time faculty, options for retirement and healthcare, as well as increases to our benefits funds. After that we plan to discuss orientation, on-boarding practices, and other amenities that could offer more support for new and returning faculty.

At this crucial moment in negotiations, we need your input and support. Come out and give us your feedback and hear from your bargaining team. Save-the-Date February 2nd 4-6pm! More details to follow.