No major walkouts or other shenanigans. In other words, we actually got down to business. With a healthy budget to lean on, UAUO (myself and President Chris Sinclair) collaborated with the President’s office to make the final push for the Public University Support Fund (PUSF; $900m) and the Oregon Opportunity Grants (OOG; $200m), among other things (see below), and we got what we asked for.
It took several sessions and a lot of conversations, but we finally got through the Part-Time Faculty Health Care bill. Senate Bill 551 guarantees faculty who teach part-time across multiple institutions will now be covered when they get sick or injured. We also succeeded in getting through the HECC Voting Rights bill, Senate Bill 712. Now faculty, staff, and, for the first time, graduate employees will be represented with votes on the HECC. This change will secure a more equitable voice for critical perspectives and experiences when setting higher education policy in Oregon.
An important Bill for stepping up the legislative game on how best to support students also got through. House Bill 2590, the Student Voice bill, passed as well. This bill makes sure that on-the-ground faculty and students have the ear of legislators. We’ll have to keep an eye on this at our institution to make sure legislators hear the challenges our students, especially first-generation students and those from communities historically marginalized in higher ed, are facing.
Finally, the last-minute push to move Senate Bill 854 (Boards of Trustees Reform) forward stalled at the end of session. However, robust testimony from across the state made it clear that this work will continue. There will be some formalized conversations and actions moving forward to act on some of the issues brought up and you can be sure Board governance will be a priority for our state politics moving forward.
On a personal note, I’ve found this session to be one of our more productive sessions. We got some good measures through and we found some areas where we could collaborate with folks we may not normally work with to do so. I was grateful for the chance to serve as AAUP-OR’s VP of Political Action and work alongside an incredibly smart legislative committee led by Chris Parta, AAUP-OR’s government relations guru. A big thank you to Matt Burris at AAUP-OR for also running a strong push this session.
If you are interested in getting into the political game at the state level, especially if you’d like to work on legislative reforms to the Boards of Trustees, hit me up and let’s talk. I’m going to stay on top of Politics for now, but we’re looking for folks to fill our political ranks. We’ve got a lot of political work ahead of us, and UAUO is in the game. Let’s keep it moving.
Avinnash P. Tiwari, President, on behalf of the Executive Council, UAUO AAUP-AFT Local 3209 AFL-CIO