PSU faculty set strike date for April 16

PORTLAND, Ore. — The union representing faculty at Portland State University says it will strike on April 16.

The president of the PSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, Mary King, says the notice was delivered Thursday to the administration.

“The Administration has forced our hand to call for the first public university strike in Oregon’s history,” said King. “By authorizing this strike with a 94 percent yes vote our members stated clearly that we are united in our commitment to PSU’s mission, and that we are willing to fight for it. Prioritizing academics and a high quality university education is what our students, who are going into debt for their education, deserve.”

Negotiations have been underway for about a year as administrators deal with a projected $15 million budget deficit for the 2014-15 year.

According to the union, the strike is being called over fixed term faculty contract renewal rights, the job security of academic professionals, equitable pay and other issues.

Portland State officials have said they'll work diligently to avoid a strike but procedures are in place to maintain operations if there's a walkout.

“We remain committed to finding a fair and equitable solution that will resolve this issue,” said PSU spokesman Scott Gallagher.

In addition to wages, the union is concerned about the number of part-time faculty and students who are increasingly being taught by professors on one-year contracts.

The administration and union are scheduled for another mediation session on Friday.

“PSU has offered raises that are fair within our fiscal constraints. We have agreed to improve job security for non-tenure track faculty,” said President Wim Wiewel. “We want a settlement, not a strike.”