The Association of Oregon Faculties met Saturday, February 1, in Portland, at the office of our lobbying firm, C&E Systems. Our lobbyists are Kristen Leonard and Chris Parta. Our primary task was to review proposed legislation relevant to the Oregon University System. The two main issues, in legislators eyes, are how the TRU's (technical and regional universities) will evolve to a new governance model, and how shared services will continue to be shared and funded. Legislation enabling the TRU's to adopt a new governance structure by July 1, 2014 (instead of the current July 1, 2015) is likely to pass. The fate of the Chancellor's Office, its budget, the OUS Board, etc., are not yet known, but must be decided soon.
One good piece of news is that the unfunded liability of PERS has been cut in half ($16.3 billion to $8.1 billion) in the last two years. Half of this gain was simply excellent performance of the stock market. The other half is attributed to the legislation drastically cutting COLA's to present and future retirees passed in the 2013 session; this legislation is being challenged in court by a coalition of public employee groups, including AOF, and a final resolution is likely due at the end of this calendar year. So there is no new "PERS attack" legislation introduced in this short session, but stay tuned for the 2015 session.
The primary interesting news from other campuses is the stalled negotiations at PSU. They are already in mediation and will be at impasse within the next two weeks. Much like at SOU, the administration is trying to stifle faculty compensation and working conditions so they can allocate funding to their other (higher) priorities -- like hiring more administrators, sending money to athletics, and starting up new ventures. The faculty are furious, and will likely be taking a strike vote in the coming weeks.
AOF is in the process of revamping and updating its web page. The new page should be up in February, and we welcome all members to give us input for adding to it and improving it.
SOU AOF Representative and AOF Secretary-Treasurer