[Note: In an effort to keep our members informed as PSUFA enters collective bargaining negotiations, we will be publishing daily updates with observations about each session. The following offers some general reflections on Friday's pre-bargaining meeting to set the agenda and review the terms of the negotiation process.]

During a team building excursion to the stormy northern Oregon coast in January the PSUFA Bargaining Team adopted the name Bargaineers after a particularly strenuous afternoon spent rowing dories through the surf beyond the Grave of the Unknown Sailor.  But that constitutes a different story, one which I do not have time to entirely fabricate at the moment, so I will turn the focus of this Bargaineer Blog toward PSUFA’s week of economic reopener negotiations with Portland State University (hereafter known as Admin).  On your behalf, fellow adjuncts, we have embarked upon our periodic campaign to get more adequate compensation for your labor.

Your Bargaineers (adjuncts Ariana Jacob, Shane Abrams, Jea Alford, Barry Fadness, Amy Duncan and Blog Guy, aka Bill Cornett) wandered into the Gold Room on time and naturally took the side of the conference table with an expansive view of the Friday overcast occluding Mt. Hood.  The Admin side of the room gradually filled after we sat down, seemingly in reverse order of importance, as the PSU counsel and Vice-Provost arrived last. Admin representatives seemed perplexed not only by the concept of linear time but also by the meaning of “the other side of the table”, bending their ranks around toward our side to the extent one of them displayed the nerve to interlope into our territory.   

You can only imagine our elation to hear an Admin representative open the meeting with, “We had a meta-question about process…”  (Personally, I felt justified in having chosen the seat closest to the door.) After much heaving and hoing of jargon about congruence and coherence and hanging paragraphs, we approached dangerously close to setting a tentative agenda for this week’s meetings, although when to eat lunch remained a point of lingering dispute.  Fortunately, both parties agreed on the importance of snacks but that seemed like low hanging dried fruit considering adjuncts tend to eat snacks out of necessity because they can seldom afford lunch. Your Bargaineers attempted to limit caucuses given the three day window we agreed upon for negotiations, but Admin bizarrely resisted this proposal, perhaps worried about losing the ability to repeatedly flee the conference room in terror.  

After mostly resolving these and other seemingly intractable issues, one of our esteemed Admin colleagues asked whether the afternoon’s training was a good use of everyone’s time.  We politely refrained from pointing out that idea for the training originated on the other side of the table. I mean, it’s not really our job to organize and inform dean level administrators, right?

As for the training itself, the highlights included learning each other’s hobbies (mud wrestling? really?) dessert preferences (the population of the room skewed heavily toward ice cream) and ultimately watching a TED talk wherein a trendy consultant told of Hugo Chavez yelling at him for a half hour and then took credit for Chavez saving Christmas in Venezuela that winter.  

We also talked a lot about the differences between interests and positions during our training.  Pay parity, not pay parody…. Apparently that’s a position, but, like a team of Sisyphuses we aspire to move that boulder to the top of Mt. Interest.