PSUFA and PSU AAUP Budget Letter Sign On
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President Percy & Members of the Board of Trustees,

As the President and Board of Trustees, you have the ability to make a choice in budgeting and ongoing collective bargaining negotiations that moves us towards equity. We must take care of people at this vulnerable time; the alternative is further austerity measures that will tear our academic community apart. Now is a time to have real and critical conversations about budget priorities. Yet, at the bargaining table PSU Administration has continually stated there is no money to work with, preventing any substantial dialogue that might shift budget priorities towards economic equity for the people providing the core mission of our university—instructors, researchers, and academic professionals.

We are calling on you to provide leadership and to direct PSU’s budget to support pay equity. It is time to redistribute funds towards those with the most need and draw on our reserves to hold our community together during this time of shared crisis. This is a most urgent matter.

We, the members of PSUFA and PSU-AAUP, understand this year brought more uncertainty to the economic situation of our university. Yet we also know the University ended 2020 with a surplus of almost 17 million dollars, much of which was added to our reserves. This year follows the same pattern we witnessed six years in a row: we hear over and over that we need to cut budgets and raise tuition, and then 12 months later we end the year with a surplus far exceeding those initial, dire projections. This scarcity mindset is damaging to students, faculty, and staff, and harms PSU’s ability to carry out its mission.

The working conditions of faculty and staff create the learning conditions for our students—short-sighted budget cuts end up decreasing our overall profitability by reducing our ability to adequately educate, support, and retain our students. PSU does not need to pit fair pay against the financial needs of students. We can and must take care of both groups through thoughtful changes to the use of existing funds, and work together to increase state support. Pre-COVID, nearly 30% of PSU employees already experienced basic needs insecurity. How can we create an environment where students thrive when our lowest paid faculty and staff are struggling to put food on their own tables? Now, more than ever, it is imperative for PSU to put its values and priorities into action by working towards equitable living wages.

Currently at the bargaining table, both of our unions seek only modest agreements that address the most severe inequities within and across our bargaining units. For example, PSUFA—whose members teach over ⅓ of PSU’s student credit hours—is asking for Adjunct Faculty to be paid the same teaching rate as the lowest paid full time instructor. The total cost of this proposed economic package is a mere $2 million dollars, which only increases adjuncts’ portion of PSU’s overall budget from a current 2.5% to 2.8%. This amount barely exceeds 10% of last year’s surplus, and is even less than the amount PSU saved from this year’s debt refinancing.

Meanwhile, PSU-AAUP is seeking limited pay increases to help retain employees who are some of the lowest paid within our union—Academic Professionals and Non Tenure Track Faculty, many of whom are stuck at their current salaries with no option for promotion. Additionally, we want to build on our prior contract’s work to make inversion, compression, and equity adjustments to salaries of underpaid faculty, something affecting ourTenure Track faculty in particular. And, importantly, because bargaining has dragged on for so long, all AAUP members already missed the 2020 cost of living adjustment, effectively receiving a pay cut. Our members can’t afford to fall further behind.

At this time we must all reinvent how we work in higher education. We have a choice between increasing disparity or moving toward more meaningful equity. Across our country we see how multiple crises lead to increased vulnerability and poverty for those already marginalized, and accumulates wealth for those near the top. We must avoid replicating this tragic result. We must collectively work against the undermining of our University’s core mission of equity, and instead create budgets that reflect this mission. We have also spoken with our allies in the Oregon Legislature and heard how our proposed values-based approach increases chances in successfully advocating for more higher education funding. Any model for financial sustainability must include a plan to pay workers fairly or we merely continue to be an engine of social inequity. Now is the time for PSU’s executive leadership, trustees, and unions to join together and work towards financial sustainability and economic justice.

All workers deserve a living wage, deserve salaries that keep pace with inflation, and deserve recognition for their vital and ongoing contributions to our University. You have the power to ensure fair contracts for PSUFA and PSU-AAUP. You have the power to meaningfully move towards equity for all of PSU’s academic workers. Now is the time to put our resources to good use and re-focus on the core mission of our University. Please work with us to create a sustainable and equitable vision for PSU's future.


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