AAUP national story on PSU settlement

Agreement at Portland State

This spring, for the first time in its 35-year history, the Portland State University AAUP chapter voted to strike. Instead, on the scheduled strike date of April 16, chapter members found themselves celebrating a 97 percent ratification vote for a new contract.

The contract includes several hard-fought gains, including the provision of two-and three-year contracts to many more full-time, non-tenure track faculty than the PSU administration had ever been willing to even discuss, a significant increase in the universal minimum pay for faculty and academic professionals, a mechanism to start a campus conversation about better incorporating goals and benchmarks for academic quality into university planning, and a much better pay package than had been envisaged given the administration’s crisis talk of a $15 million “structural deficit” for a unit perennially in the tenth percentile on pay.

What particularly galvanized the 1,262-member bargaining unit was being met at the start of bargaining with an assault on long-held contract protections for the faculty role in shared governance, captured in provisions that changes to promotion and tenure guidelines and unwritten work policies (“past practices”) require mutual agreement with the PSU-AAUP.

A year of frustrating negotiations produced nothing but the repetition of empty, stock phrases at the table, until PSU faculty and academic professionals had had enough, and implemented a serious organizing effort, culminating in a strike authorization vote with huge membership turnout voting 94 percent in favor of a strike.

The PSU-AAUP had the support of students at the bargaining table with them, the formal support of the student government and a thrilling 700-student walkout to join 350 faculty and academic professionals at an informational picket and rally, in the cold, February rain.

On the day the strike was called, a standing-room-only crowd was audibly moved by compelling testimony from students, faculty, academic professionals and campus allies about conditions on campus after twenty years of budget cuts in a public hearing before a panel of legislators and faith leaders organized by Portland’s Jobs with Justice chapter.

The contract is settled, but the long campaign remains to put PSU back on the right track to a student-centered budget that prioritizes academics, rather than administration, real estate and athletics, with the support of adequate public funding for affordable, high quality, public higher education.


Mary King to be honored at national conference

Our own Mary King, past president of AAUP-Oregon, past president of PSU-AAUP, and current VP of Collective Bargaining for AAUP Oregon, is being richly  and deservedly honored for her leadership with two awards to be presented at the AAUP national conference in early June.  We all recognize what a difference her leadership has made.  It’s nice to have it recognized nationally.  Congratulations Mary! Below are excerpts from the announcements for the Marilyn Sternberg Award and the Georgina M Smith Award.

The Marilyn Sternberg Award 

Mary C. King is the recipient of the 2014 Marilyn Sternberg Award. The award was established in 1981 by the American Association of University Professors’ Collective Bargaining Congress and is given annually to the “AAUP member who best demonstrates the concern for human rights, courage, persistence, political foresight, imagination, and collective bargaining skills.” This is a national recognition for tremendous contributions to academic collective bargaining, the AAUP, and the profession at large.

Since her arrival at Portland State University in 1992, Mary King has been an indefatigable advocate of union activism, labor rights, and social justice, both in the university and at the community level.  Mary has served on the Executive Committee of PSU-AAUP on several occasions, including a recent term as Vice-President for Collective Bargaining. Her keen interest in labor issues goes well beyond her union and political engagement. As a labor economist, she has written extensively about women in the labor force and the gender dimensions of migration.

In her current role as PSU-AAUP President, Mary King has been pivotal in building a strategy to mobilize the membership around resistance to administrative pressure and achieving a successful contract. She is a leading voice in uniting the AAUP membership, students, and local community in their demands for student-centered education. Her leadership, enthusiasm, and dedication have galvanized many AAUP members to stand for the rights of our students to quality and affordable education, for the right of respect and dignity for academics, for the right of our local community to support and participate in a vibrant learning urban university. Her recent work in the state legislature on the increasingly worrisome issue of student debt is also highly regarded. Mary is an ardent advocate on behalf of core AAUP principles on campus and in the media.

The Georgina M Smith Award

The award is presented “to a person who has provided exceptional leadership in the past year in improving the status of academic women or in advancing collective bargaining and through that work has improved the profession in general”.  Rather than awarding such recognition annually, the Association reserves the distinction for those occasions when some accomplishment in either area is identified as so outstanding as to merit being singled out.  On behalf of the members of the selection committee, I want to express our admiration for your accomplishments as immediate past president of the Portland State University chapter of the AAUP, for your contributions in negotiating a contract with hard-fought gains, and for the encouragement you have provided to faculty engaged in collective bargaining throughout the country.

Anita Levy, for the selection committee

April 26 conference energizes and inspires faculty


plenary panel generates much interested discussion

plenary panel generates much interested discussion

AAUP- Oregon State Conference April 26, 2014


“Our first state conference was a great success!  It was inspiring to hear about the recent victories at PSU and the U of O and to meet with our colleagues from across Oregon,” said Kathleen Stanley, AAUP leader from Oregon State.

Over 60 faculty members and allies from around the state of Oregon gathered on Saturday April 26th at Oregon State’s LaSells Stewart Conference Center in Corvallis. The conference drew large contingents from OSU, PSU, and University of Oregon as well as representation from Linfield College, Western Oregon University, Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon and Oregon Institute of Technology.  Allies present included David Rives, President of AFT-Oregon, and Brett Nair and Laurie Wimmer, staff at Oregon Education Association.

contingent facult wkshop2

workshop participants engage around contingent faculty organizing

After lunch, attendees chose among three workshops:  Organizing Around University Budget Issues, Organizing Around Student Debt, and Organizing Faculty with Contingent Contracts.

The final plenary allowed the conference to lift up action items to the whole body.  Suggested actions included the coordinated campaign around budget issues, one on one organizing on all campuses, developing a shared legislative agenda, developing a shared strategy and talking points for working with the new boards, getting good data on tuition charged for classes taught by adjuncts, and involving faculty in speaking out about student debt issues.  Conference participants left excited and inspired.

outgoing AAUP president Mary King and incoming president José Padín

outgoing AAUP president Mary King and incoming president José Padín


New officers join AAUP-Oregon Exec Council

From the AAUP-Oregon Election Committee:
We are pleased to certify that the following people have been elected to the AAUP-Oregon Executive Council through on-line election held March 10-20th, 2014:
Jose’ Padin, Portland State University, President
Amy Orr,  Linfield College, Secretary
Deborah Olson, University of Oregon, VP for Communications and Public Relations
Whitney Head-Burgess, Advocate for Graduate Students
We are delighted to welcome the new officers!  Their term begins at the end of the April 26th Executive Council meeting.
your AAUP-Oregon Election Committee,
Gina Psaki, Randy Blazak, Kira Homo, Kathleen Stanley


We’re Hiring: AAUP-Oregon looking for an Organizer

Wanted: Organizer for AAUP-Oregon


The newly revived state conference of the American Association of University Professors chapters in Oregon, AAUP-Oregon, is pleased to announce an organizer position to be filled as soon as possible. This is an exciting opportunity at a critically important time in the AAUP, in Oregon and in the academy. Oregon faculty are becoming mobilized as never before. The organizer will play a vital role in building the AAUP’s membership; defining key issues; increasing the diversity of our membership; creating and sustaining coalitions; mobilizing members; and winning increased freedoms and protections for faculty, academic professionals, and graduate student employees. The  organizer will be based in Portland, but will work where necessary in Oregon. We invite you to join us in our critical work defending and advancing academic freedom, shared governance, due process, and the economic security of the profession.

Duties and Responsibilities

The AAUP-Oregon organizer will play a key role in developing and executing the Oregon organizing plan, with a focus on such key issues as academic freedom, online education, job security for faculty in fixed term positions, and intellectual property, and on building membership across the state. The organizer will work both with organizing for collective bargaining and with professional association organizing. The position will include the following responsibilities:

  • Develop a statewide organizing plan with concrete benchmarks
  • Develop committees of volunteer member organizers on AAUP campuses
  • Run organizing campaigns as assigned; meet weekly, monthly and annual benchmarks for face-to-face meetings, membership recruitment and leadership development in both collective bargaining campaigns and advocacy chapter development


Required Qualifications:


  • At least two years organizing experience
  • Both internal and external organizing experience with a union
  • Commitment to building faculty power as part of a broader social justice movement
  • Ability to manage workflow and meet benchmarks without much direct supervision
  • Superior written and oral communication skills and computer proficiency skills—including familiarity with MS Office.
  • Must have a car and a willingness to travel regionally and be willing to work long, irregular hours and weekends as required.


Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience in higher education organizing
  • Experience organizing adjunct faculty
  • Advanced degree and experience teaching and/or conducting research in higher education 


The ideal candidate for this position has proven organizing skills and the ability to move workers into action. She/he is a self-starter who can work as the only staff on a campaign with weekly support from AAUP.


Salary: $40,000-$45,000 Annually depending on experience


Benefits: Health care, 401K contribution and paid vacation.


To apply, please send a resume’ and cover letter demonstrating qualifications to Margaret@aaup-oregon.org. Please use organizing position in the subject line.


Save the Date! Conference April 26


Defending Higher Education:  Reclaiming Oregon’s Future

Now is the time to come together as faculty, students and community members to turn things around for higher education in Oregon. University of Oregon professors just won an historic first contract with big improvements. Portland State faculty are engaged in a key battle to defend quality education and faculty standards.  More and more students are organizing to battle crippling college debt.  Graduate students are on the move.  Let’s gather and unite for quality affordable higher education in Oregon!

Annual Conference

Saturday April 26, 2014

10 am to 3 pm

LaSalle Stewart Center, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Plenary speakers will address the restructuring of public education, the growth of contingent faculty, burgeoning student debt, and faculty unionization.  Lunch will allow attendees to discuss these issues with colleagues from around the state.

Workshops will include

  • Keep Oregon Working: defend Oregon professors’ right to advocate for ourselves
  • There is enough money: understanding your university’s budget
  • Contingent faculty: organizing for change
  • Affordable higher education: organizing against student debt

For more information:  aaaup-oregon.org or email margaret@aaup-oregon.org, phone 503-351-4192


Registration Costs*

Tenure-line $10
Fixed-term $5
Part-time / Graduate Student $3

*Scholarships available