PowerPoint for new Collective Bargaining Agreement

View the presentation summarizing the changes to the new employment contract.

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Summary of the Tentative Agreement

The Executive Council has approved the Tentative Agreement and has referred it to the membership for ratification. You will receive a ratification ballot in your PDX mailbox soon. The ballot will stay open until Monday April 4, 2016 11:55 PM. The negotiating team is attempting to schedule a member Q&A for the Tentative Agreement during the first week of spring term. If you do not receive an email from Election buddy.com with voting instructions, please contact Phil Lesch.

Summary of changes to PSU & PSU-AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement
November 2015- November 2019

  • Establishment of a Sick Leave Bank. Members who donate three hours of unused sick leave become eligible to withdraw up to 30 days of paid leave to cover a catastrophic illness, to care for a family member or to take parental leave.
  • Non-tenure track instructional faculty, with at least six years of experience, will now be employed on Continuous Appointments rather than fixed-term contracts. Current NTTF who have reached seniority and have evidence of satisfactory evaluation will have their contracts converted to a continuous appointment with job security protections. A new evaluation system for NTTF will be constructed that provides for reviews before, at, and after the award of continuous appointments. Fixed-term appointments will still be used, but only for limited, temporary hires.
  • Summer session salaries are now part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Faculty must be paid historic rates (2.5% of annual salary rate/credit hour).   Assignment of summer work and cancellation of classes will be monitored.
  • An academic professional classification/compensation study will be commissioned and paid for by the PSU administration. The study will reorganize the current AP job families and compensation structure and create pathways for AP promotion and pay structures that recognize and reward experience and expertise.  Study results will be bargained and both parties must come to agreement before changes are implemented.
  • Academic Professionals should not be assigned unreasonable and excessive workloads. AP workloads should approximate 2080 hours per year, which is about forty hours per week.  If hours or job duties exceed this average, the AP should receive a reduction in hours or workload within a reasonable time frame.  APs are professionals and should not have to provide an hour by hour accounting of their workday. There is a new labor/management resolution process academic professionals who have unreasonable workloads can use to get relief.  The process terminates in arbitration.
  • Academic professional employment status was clarified. APs can be let go if they receive sanctions warranting termination, in cases of retrenchment, or if there is a change in departmental needs or programmatic requirements. 
  • Twelve month AAUP represented employees will not have to use vacation day during University closures.
  • The Transfer of Tenure Home procedure was finalized and will be an addendum to the contract.
  • All AAUP members will receive Individual Professional Development Accounts with guaranteed, annual allocations that can be used to pay for conferences, travel, professional memberships, licensure, equipment, training and more. IPDA money can accumulate in your account for up to four years.  Starting in AY 2016/17, Tenure-related faculty will receive $1000, NTTF $600 and APs $500 each year to spend on professional development activities for the life of the contract.
  • Sabbatical pay rates will increase to: 85% for one term (no change), 80% for two terms and 75% for three. These changes will be instituted in the 2017/18 academic year.
  • Research NTTF are eligible for continuous appointments, if their employing unit has a strong track record of being able to consistently fund their position.
  • A Bridge Funding pool will be established in September 2016. This pool will temporarily fund research positions if there is an unanticipated funding lull or gap.  The/initial pool will be $70,000.  Additional funding for the pool will be determined after its pilot year.
  • Faculty Enhancement Grants will remain funded at $650,000 annually and will go up to $675,000 during the 2018/19 academic year.
  • Cost of living increases will be guaranteed for the life of the contract. COLAs will be pegged to the annual CPI-U rate (Consumer Price Index for the Portland/Salem metropolitan area) and will be awarded in January/February of each year.  The COLA will be no less than 1.5%/year and will be capped at 3.5%.  The initial COLA will be 2% and will be retroactive to January/February 2016.
  • Market equity adjustments for tenure-related faculty will occur annually starting in 2017. Salary pools funded at 0.75%, 0.80% and 0.90% each year through 2019 will be allocated according to market equity formula used in earlier contracts.
  • Post-tenure review pay increases will continue at the same rate through 2019.
  • Internal/external market equity adjustments for non-tenure track faculty will occur annually starting in 2017. Salary pools funded at 0.75%, 0.80% and 0.90% each year through 2019 will be allocated to address problems with internal equity (i.e. recognizing years of service, providing pay bumps for faculty hired at ranks without promotional opportunities) and with external equity (lower than market rate salaries).
  • Length of service adjustments for Academic Professionals will occur in January 2017. APs with 3-5 years of service will receive a salary increase of $500. 5-7 years $1200, 7-10 years $1600, 10-15 years $1800, and more than 15 years of service $2000.  Salary pools of 0.80% and 0.90% will be set aside in 2018 and 2019 to help fund the implementation of the class/comp study.  If bargaining over the study is not complete, APs will receive this money as an across the board adjustment.
  • Economic agreements could be renegotiated if there is a fundamental change in the budget picture at PSU. Changes such as a higher state funding allocation or major PERS increases could trigger a reopener on economics.
  • We agreed to a four-year contract. There will be limited reopeners in 2017.  The contract will expire in November 2019.

Questions about the TA can be directed to Leanne Serbulo, VP Collective Bargaining or any member of the bargaining team.

Sincerely,

PSU-AAUP negotiating team:
Leanne Serbulo, Gina Greco, David Hansen, Anh Ly, Michael Clark, James Woods, Pam Miller, and Phil Lesch

Sessions 34 & 35: Finishing-up non-economic issues and laying the framework for a FAIRNE$$ in our wages and benefits

We spent two days this week, including a Sunday session trying to resolve our outstanding issues and preparing for our Thursday, March 10th economic bargaining session.  We still needed to finish bargaining over research NTTF appointments and academic professional transfer policies—two issues that had been unsuccessfully pushed to sub committees.  We also laid the groundwork for our affinity bargaining (the IBB method for economic issue) day.   We exchanged economic interests with the administration and listed the economic categories (referred to as silos in this method) that we will be negotiating over on March 10th.

We made progress on research NTTF appointments.  In our new contract, some research NTTF will now be eligible for continuous appointments.  Many of our NTTF researchers have been at Portland State for a significant amount of time and work for units or institutes both soliciting grant money and carrying out research projects.  Some researchers have had the unfortunate experience of having been awarded a large grant, only to see their FTE reduced while they were working on other projects and waiting for the money to come-in.   We manage to support a large administrative team on the soft money that flows into the institution, and we don’t expect them to put-up with periodic lay-offs or reductions in their FTE.

The option to provide a continuous appointment to research NTTF provides more stable opportunities for these faculty members, while recognizing the challenges faced by those funded by soft money.  A continuous appointment can be eliminated if the funding dries up; however, we also agreed to create a Bridge Funding Pilot Program.  When there is a temporary gap or loss of funding, a NTTF researcher can apply for bridge funding to fill that gap.  The Bridge Funding Program will be housed in the Provost’s Office.  An advisory committee that includes NTTF researchers and an AAUP representative will provide input about how the program will operate and which criteria should be used when considering applications.  The committee will not make funding decisions.   We will negotiate the amount of the Bridge Fund pool when we discuss economics on March 10th.

We have yet to resolve the AP transfer issue.   We are working on a process to create and give preference to internal applicants first for AP positions.  We will continue to discuss this issue on Wednesday morning.

We also spent significant time outlining our economic interests.  PSU AAUP has an interest in:

  1. Increasing the percentage of the budget spent on instruction and direct student services.
  2. Having compensation that enables us to live a middle class lifestyle while residing within a reasonable commuting distance of PSU.
  3. Seeing salaries grow to meet the rise in core inflation and housing prices in the Portland metropolitan area.
  4. Achieving internal and external salary equity for our members.
  5. Valuing our members’ years of experience and service to PSU and eliminating salary compression and inversion.
  6. Providing adequate funding for professional development. Members should not have to pay out of pocket for job-related professional development activities.
  7. Creating a benefits package that reflects our shared commitment to a healthy work/life balance. Out of pocket health care costs need to be affordable.   Retirement should be achievable for all members after a significant length of service.  Commuting options should be both environmentally and economically sustainable.
  8. Ending discriminatory pay gaps that exist within our institution for protected classes of employees (race/ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexuality, etc.).
  9. Valuing research at Portland State. Researchers need to have adequate support and job security.  Sabbatical lengths should be driven by scholarly needs rather than by financial constraints.
  10. Working at an institution that is committed to providing a living wage for all of its employees.

Administration shared their interests with us.  While they acknowledged that our salaries should keep pace with inflation and be competitive with our peers (although, according to Kevin Reynolds—they are!), they did not articulate an interest in rewarding us for the work we do or for the years we’ve invested in this institution.  They also did not address compression, inversion or equity.  Most of the administration’s interests revolved around staying “fiscally responsible” and “balancing the budget.”

We also learned that the President and his executive team are pushing for a settlement that is no more than the current budget + 3% to cover all additional costs including salaries and benefits for our members and those from SEIU and PSUFA, services and supplies.  We’ve heard this kind of nonsense before in previous negotiations.  Remember the $15 million shortfall?

Despite all of the time we’ve sunk into the interest-based bargaining process, administration is pulling its usual shenanigans.   First, we had Kevin Reynolds presenting his budget doom and gloom to the board, now the President and his executive team are directing the administrative bargaining team to stay within a tightly constrained economic box.  If we want a raise, it looks like we’re going to have to fight.

That’s why we need to have our members turn out.  We’re asking all AAUP members to commit to spending one hour in bargaining on Thursday March 10th in ASRC 515.  Click here to sign-up

Sessions 32 & 33: Good news/Bad news. Conceptual agreement on Individual Professional Development Accounts! But still playing budgetary games…

We met for two days of back-to-back bargaining.  On Thursday, we had a frustrating session arguing about some of the economic data that’s been presented.  But on Friday, we made some serious progress on two of our remaining outstanding issues—professional development and sabbatical.

Bad news first.  Howard Bunsis, chair of the national AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, joined us at the table on Thursday morning in a room packed with our members.  He presented an analysis of PSU’s financial health that was developed largely in response to the information Kevin Reynolds presented to the Finance and Administration subcommittee of the Board of Trustees.  Reynolds asserted that PSU will face a dire crisis when PERS rates rise that could result in lay-offs.  He also claimed that PSU faculty and AP salaries are competitive with our peers.  Howard Bunsis, an accounting professor whose specializes in public pensions, soundly refuted that forecast.  Using audited financial reports, he showed that there has been a steady decline in the amount of money going into instruction, while institutional support (upper administration) has grown over the same time period.  Bunsis’ data definitively made the case that PSU faculty lag far behind our peers in terms of salary.  When cost of living is taken into account, our salaries fall even farther behind.  Finally, the Bunsis presentation showed that the PERS increases won’t result in the doom and gloom budgetary picture that’s being painted.  He questioned why PSU routinely predicts doomsday budget scenarios and large deficits that never come to fruition.

The administrative team’s response to the Bunsis presentation was stoic.  They did not ask questions or engage him in any debate or dialogue.  Later in the day, they claimed that Howard’s work was full of flaws, but would not articulate a single example of how his calculations, data or sources were misguided.   In the meantime, we heard a presentation from HR that explained how the administration came-up with their conclusion that our salaries are on par with our peers.   Their methodology relied upon a peer set that has not been used before and contained institutions clustered in very low-cost of living states like Alabama, Texas and Louisiana.  They compared PSU salaries to salaries in the CUPA-HR data based that were reported two years earlier then “aged.”  These “aged” salaries didn’t even match the data that was eventually reported to CUPA for the comparison year, and the CUPA data didn’t match the more robust, federally mandated data that exists in the IPEDS database.  This sparked an hours-long debate between our teams about who PSU’s comparators are.  We advocated for using the OUS comparator set we’ve always relied upon that was methodologically derived, not cherry-picked.

That was Thursday.  We went into Friday’s session feeling like we’d never get anything accomplished.  After experiencing some tension in the morning when the administration scrapped work that had been done in a subcommittee regarding AP transfer policies, we decided to focus on professional development.  We’ve been very direct and up front with the administration about the changes that we want to see in terms of professional development, so we asked to go directly to the options phase of interest-based bargaining.  We presented the problems that our members have trying to access professional development money.  There is currently not enough money allocated to the travel fund to meet demand, and one has to basically win a lottery to fund a conference trip.

The administration shared our belief that professional development money should be available and accessible to all.  We reached a conceptual agreement to create individual professional development accounts for all AAUP members.  This money can be spent on things like conference travel and registration, professional organization dues or licensing fees, books, equipment or supplies, software, training expenses, tuition or fees and so on.  Funds will be allowed to roll over for three years.  After three years, unused funds will go to the Dean’s office to be spent on additional professional development activities.  The individual accounts will replace the Faculty Senate administered travel fund, but the Faculty Enhancement Grant program will remain intact.  The individual accounts will be tiered, with a higher allocation going to tenure-related faculty and a smaller amount awarded to NTTF and APs, but all members will have an account.  We will determine how much the annual stipend will be during economics bargaining.

We then discussed sabbatical.  We recounted how upset our members were when President Wiewel was offered a sabbatical at 100% pay in the third year of his new contract.  PSU faculty sabbatical pay rates are 85% for one term, 75% for two and 60% for three.  Many faculty take less time than they need to complete their projects, because they can’t afford to live on 60% of their noncompetitive pay.  We also raised some policy issues around split academic year sabbaticals that surfaced recently.  We will figure out the best way to address the policy issues in our next session, but the administration agreed to raise the pay percentages for two and three term sabbaticals.  Like professional development, we will determine the percentage increases during economics bargaining on March 10th.

Can PSU Afford to Give Us a Raise?

According to the administrative presentation made to the Board of Trustee’s finance subcommittee, enrollment will remain flat, benefit costs will rise so sharply that the university will have to make lay-offs in 2018, and our salaries are competitive with our peers.

This curiously timed presentation coincides with upcoming board votes to raise tuition and collective bargaining over compensation with our union and the part-time faculty union.  However, not everyone who examines the PSU financial statements agrees with the administration’s analysis.

Howard Bunsis, accounting professor and chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, will present his analysis of PSU’s financial health in our Thursday, February 25th bargaining session.  Join us on Thursday at 9:00 AM in SMSU 294 to find out what PSU can really afford.

Session 30: Conceptual Agreement reached on AP Workload and Terms of Empolyment

In our Friday, February 19th bargaining session, we reached a tentative agreement on AP Workload and Terms of Employment issues.  Those of you who have been closely following this negotiation know that we’ve spent hours going back and forth with the administrative team about what full-time employment means for academic professionals.  The tentative agreement includes new contract language that defines and AP workload as approximately 2080 hours/year (basically, a 40 hour work week).  It clarifies academic professionals’ right to flex their work schedules.  APs are not expected to keep hour-by-hour records of their work and when some weeks require additional hours or heavier workloads, supervisors must allow for a reduction in subsequent work or hours within a reasonable time frame.

Academic professionals should not be assigned an “unreasonable or excessive workload.”  APs who believe they have a workload that exceeds what a reasonable person can achieve within a 2080 hour annual standard will first work with their supervisor to adjust their workload.  If the AP and supervisor cannot come to a mutually agreeable workload reduction plan, representatives from AAUP and administration will negotiate a solution.  If a solution cannot be reached, the AP has the right to take the matter to arbitration.  An arbitrator will determine if the workload is unreasonable.  If it is, PSU will be issued a cease and desist order.   If multiple workload issues arise in a single unit, this will trigger a broader discussion in a regularly scheduled labor/management meeting.

The current contract states that APs can be let go with notice if their position is eliminated.  In the past, the administration has interpreted this section to mean that any AP can be let go, with or without cause, by simply issuing the required notice.  AAUP has always believed that the word positon means a job must be eliminated.  This disagreement has resulted in numerous grievances, none of which ever resolved the larger conflict.  The tentative agreement now specifies exactly what the term position means and when an AP can be laid-off.  Academic professionals can be let go with notice if they receive sanctions that warrant termination, if retrenchment occurs, of if a position is eliminated due to programmatic change.  If a programmatic change results in lay-offs, APs will be let-go in order of seniority.  Laid-off academic professionals will have recall rights if a similar job is posted.  This provision is designed to prevent departments and units from eliminating a job to get rid of a person then re-posting the same job with a slightly different description or title.

As part of the terms of employment package, the administration introduced a probationary period for academic professionals hired after July 1, 2016.  Newly hired APs can be let go in the first six months of employment without having to go through the terms stated above.  If multiple probationary employees are laid-off in a unit, the labor/management committee will meet to discuss and remedy the problem.

Academic professionals will no longer have to use vacation days if the university is closed for inclement weather or during breaks.  Unfortunately, this agreement will not cover the snow day we had in January, but if we get another snowstorm, it won’t be considered a “vacation.”

When we negotiate our economics package on March 10th, we will have an opportunity to possibly extend the frequency of AP longevity bumps and/or revisit the brackets we originally agreed to.

Session 29: Finding the balance on AP Issues

By Leanne Serbulo, VP for Collective Bargaining

Balance.  It’s a delicate, yet crucial part of bargaining.  In a bargaining unit like ours that is made-up of diverse constituencies, we strive to find balance in the gains we make for each group.  We’ve spent that past dozen sessions focused on academic professional issues.  So far, we’ve addressed pay and promotional and workload issues.  Now, there are just a few issues left on the table.

We were able to gain longevity adjustments for APs for up to two years and a classification and compensation study that will, hopefully, result in real pathways for promotion as well as opportunities to advance and grow within a job title.  We got important workload language that states that APs workload should not exceed 2080 hours/year (40 hours per week), and that no AP should have an unreasonable or excessive workload.  We are crafting a process for dealing with excessive workloads that we hope will be successful.  However, administration wanted to put this language in a letter of agreement that would sunset in two years and have to be renegotiated.

In our last session, the administration floated a package proposal that introduced a 6 month probationary period for newly hired academic professionals.  It also clarified the terms of employment for APs.  We have different interpretations of our current contract language about the terms of employment, which has resulted in a number of grievances.  The new terms of employment language proposed would resolve our conflicts and enhance AP job security. 

While the introduction of a probationary period is a reasonable ask, what concerned us as a team was that the probationary period would be a permanent change, while many of the other gains we’ve made would be temporary.  The longevity adjustments will only occur over the next two years, and APs will have to wait for promotional pathways to be established and for a meaningful system of advancement within their job titles.  We don’t know what the class and comp study will result in, and we’ll have to bargain about the proposed changes.

Our team felt that the changes administration is seeking for terms of employment are permanent, while the other gains we made are temporary, and that doesn’t feel balanced.   After a lot of caucus time brainstorming and some back and forth, administration is willing to make the workload language a permanent part of the contract.  While this is a gain, we still don’t feel like we’ve achieved the balance we’re seeking. We are getting close and will continue to negotiate these issues in our next session.

Session 28: Ironing Out AP Issues

By Leanne Serbulo, VP for Collective Bargaining

We had a number of outstanding AP issues (workload, scheduling, weather closures and terms of employment) left to discuss, but we had already generated possible solutions to many of these issues in previous sessions. We started the day off by looking at the options that were currently on the table. After we went over these options, we went into a caucus to consider them.

During caucus, administration prepared a package option that our facilitator presented to us. We spent the remainder of the session working off this option, but we remained in separate caucuses. Towards the end of the session, we met back together at the table, even though both sides had lost a few members to meetings, class and other job duties.

Our discussion at the table was very productive. We spoke frankly to each other about the interests and rationales behind the proposal and about our reluctance to accept this proposal. This conversation should help guide us as each team spends the next week refining our options and hopefully moving towards a mutually, agreeable solution.

Both of our teams are committed to trying to finish the contract by the end of February. We set a goal to complete bargaining around AP issues before noon during next week’s session. We will then address professional development, sabbatical and move into the economics phase of bargaining. We meet again next week on Friday, February 12th from 9-4 in Urban 710. As always, we welcome and encourage our members to come and observe.

Sessions 26 & 27: Defining “Professionals” and “Reasonable” Workloads

By Leanne Serbulo, VP for Collective Bargaining

We began constructing a solution to AP workload issues this session. Although, still in a conceptual stage, the teams are working on a Letter of Agreement, which defines reasonable workload expectations for academic professionals. The agreement also clarifies what it means to be a professional employee. Professionals should not need to keep an hour-by-hour accounting of their time and should enjoy some flexibility in scheduling how and when they complete their work. Issues around scheduling have come-up in a number of AP units. This language provides a clearer statement of what it means to be professional and should help guide managers who struggle with this concept.

The Letter of Agreement also states that APs should not be assigned an “unreasonable or excessive workload.” In order to enforce this language, we first needed to define what a reasonable workload looks like. Since AP positions are so diverse, we asserted that a “reasonable” workload standard should be 40 hours a week, which is our commonly held cultural understanding of what full-time employments means. The 40 hour work week is something that the labor movement fought for decades to achieve.   Unionists died for this right.

Discussions about AP workload have taken so long, because the administration fundamentally disagreed with our assertion that full-time work means 40 hours a week. We spent hours going back and forth on this issue. Administration had some legitimate concerns about defining the work week in terms of hours, because exempt employee’s work often fluctuates, and the very nature of exempt employment means that one is salaried, rather than hourly. Finally, we agreed to use a 2080 hours annual standard (which is common in many collective bargaining agreements covering exempt employees). This is the yearly equivalent of a forty hour workweek.

The Letter of Agreement also creates a process that APs can use when they have experienced problems flexing their schedules or believe they have been assigned an unreasonable workload. The AP will first attempt to work things out with their supervisor. If there is no resolution, an ad-hoc committee which includes labor, management, the affected AP and the supervisor will be charged with negotiating a mutually, agreeable solution within 30 days. We are still hammering out the details of this part of the agreement.

This Letter of Agreement will be renegotiated when the AP class and compensation study is completed. The study may result in some APs becoming overtime-eligible, which could affect workload provisions. We encourage APs who experience workload issues or problems with flexing their schedule to come forward. The more we raise this issue, the more likely it will be that the workload language we’ve negotiated will become a permanent part of Article 17.

Session 25: Workloads

By Leanne Serbulo, VP for Collective Bargaining

We came to the table today feeling optimistic about finding a solution to the workload problems our academic professional employees face. In our previous session, we worked-off of an option that the administration had crafted to address AP workloads and terms of employment. We had some very productive discussions about how the option met or failed to meet our interest. It felt like we were moving closer to some kind of resolution. So, our charge for this week was to revise this option based upon the discussions we had in our last session.

Our team brought a revised option to the table that was based upon the language the administration had presented during the previous week. Apparently, we were much too optimistic. We spent the session rehashing many of the same issues we had discussed in the previous one. Basically, we don’t have a shared understanding of what “full-time” employment means.

Both sides felt frustrated and exhausted by the end of the session. Our mediator assured us that in her experience, things getting heated at the table is often the sign of an impending breakthrough. I hope this is the case. Our team will spend the week trying to find a resolution to this issue.

Workload is a major issue for our members. From Admissions counselors who read three times the national average number of applications each year to our tenured Art faculty who teach twenty eight credits and still have high expectations for scholarship and service, to non-tenure track Music faculty who teach online classes with 150 students, workload is a serious problem at PSU, which many insist stands for Personal Sacrifice University.

We are constantly expected to do more with less. Because we live in a state that routinely disinvests in education, we understand that working at PSU involves some trade-offs. But does it have to mean you spend 50-60 hours a week for a wage that remains persistently in lowest percentile? Please join us this Thursday, January 21st from noon-1:30 in the Urban Center Gallery (2nd floor of the Urban Building) to hear Howard Bunsis, Chair of the National AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress and Professor of Accounting as he addresses: The Financial Situation at PSU. Do they have the money? Are they spending it the right way?