PORTLAND -- Portland State University faculty have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.
If teachers and university administrators cannot reach a contract, faculty will be authorized to go on strike anytime after April 3rd, said The American Association of University Professors on Thursday.
The strike vote represents an escalation in negotiations between faculty and administrators in their 10-months long contract negotiations.
“With this strike vote the ball is now in the administration’s hands,” said Jose Padin, Professor of Sociology. “Our top demands, faculty stability and educator led higher ed, have virtually no fiscal impact on the budget. It’s time for the administration to settle with a student-centered contract.”
On Feb 27, the PSU Student Union organized 500 students to walk out of classes in support of faculty, according to the AAUP.
However, some students have expressed concern that a strike might interrupt their own education.
Student Josie Solari already owes $70,000 in student loans. She's concerned about whether the strike could make it difficult for her to graduate soon.
"I'm paying a lot of money. I'd like to keep the schedule that I want. I want to graduate on time," she said. "I don't want any hiccups just because some people want to be paid more and some people deserve to be paid more."
The PSU administration have said in the past that health care and pension costs have gone up, state money has gone down and Portland State doesn't have the out-of-state population paying big tuition money like the University of Oregon or Oregon State.
In their final offer, the administration gave teachers the option of a 3% raise and more policy input on changes to promotions and tenure guidelines, or a 4% raise and no input. In the previous contract, teachers got an 8% raise.
PSU currently has approximately 29,000 students enrolled and 1,200 teachers.
Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report