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PSU faculty protest, get student support

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - PSU students joined a faculty union rally Thursday on the Park Blocks on campus. The faculty union declared an impasse Monday in labor contract talks with the PSU administration. Hundreds of Portland State University professors rallied Thursday on the Park Blocks on campus, to gain support for a new union contract.

They were joined by students, several hundred of whom pledged to walk out of classes in solidarity with the professors.

“I’ve been teaching in the general education program at PSU for four years," said David Osborn, University Studies instructor. "Like many faculty I’m laid off each year and rehired. I have no way of knowing if I’ll have a job in the next year. The instability is hard on my family, bad for my students and hurts the quality of our academic programs. This fight is about more than this contract. It’s about the future of PSU.”

The union representing more than 1,250 Portland State University faculty, the American Association of University Professors, declared an impasse Monday in its labor contract talks with university administrators. That “sets us up on a timeline toward a period when we could strike,” said Mary King, an economics professor who leads the PSU local of the union.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - PSU faculty union president Mary King addresses a rally Thursday that was designed to put pressure on administrators in stalled labor contract talks. The university’s best salary offer after five full days of mediation would not keep pace with inflation, King said. In addition, the faculty is strongly resisting the administration’s attempt to eliminate contract language that assures faculty remain protected by the tenure and promotion policies adopted by the PSU Faculty Senate. The union also is concerned that more and more fulltime and tenured positions are being replaced by short-term and parttime teaching posts.

PSU administrators have declined to discuss contract specifics during negotiations.

The two sides now have four days to submit their final and best contract offers to the state Employment Relations Board, and “cost out” those proposals. Then the board has a week to publish those proposals.

That triggers a 30-day “cooling off” period. If no settlement is reached by then, PSU would have the right to impose its last contract offer, and the faculty would have the right to go on strike.

Steve Law can reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Twitter: @SteveLawTrib