At 11 am this morning, PSU faculty gathered in the Smith Memorial Student Center to stage a protest during the Oregon University System board of trustees meeting there. The action came just one day after another fruitless negotiating session between the university and the AAUP—the union representing much of PSU's staff.
“The university administration left early,” said PSU-AAUP president Gary Brodowicz of yesterday's meeting, adding that the AAUP team stayed until about 6:20, an hour after the university team had left. “There is no progress to report.”
The faculty also stayed late at today's protest. The OUS meeting was scheduled to end by 1 o'clock, before which Brodowicz would be given a few minutes to speak. By 2 o'clock, though, a discussion about the merits of the proposed U of O arena was underway, the crowd was dwindling, and no end to the meeting was in sight. A slightly deflated Brodowicz agreed to email me his speech.
“Morale is in the toilet,” said AAUP spokeswoman Julia Getchell. “I've been here for five years and labor relations are at their lowest.”
Although the Oregon Legislature increased PSU's budget recently, AAUP members are unsatisfied with the money's allocation, which they say puts faculty on the backburner. Getchell believes that there's a “lack of budget transparency” on the part of the university. She said the school has been unwilling to provide data on expenses for things like construction projects, overseas recruitment, and automatically flushing toilets.
Although support for a strike among the faculty is unusually strong, AAUP members concede that it is unlikely a strike would actually take place before the academic year's end. According to the PSU-AAUP webpage, a strike would be possible only following the ongoing mediation session after the declaration of an "impasse," final offers, a 30-day cooling-off period, more final offers, and then a 10 day notification of intent to strike. As Getchell told me, “there's always next year.”
University officials were unavailable for comment.