Director of Academic Employee & Labor Relations
Job Posted: 7 February 2019
Company: Portland State University
Closing Date: 10 March 2019
Location: Portland, OR


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The Position:

The Director of Academic Employee and Labor Relations (DAELR) reports to the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Dean of Interdisciplinary General Education in the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA). The DAELR is responsible for the management of academic employee and labor relations. The DAELR stewards positive and professional relationships between employees, union representatives, supervisors, managers, and administrators. Note: references to unions in this description refers to all PSU Academic Unions: PSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professor (AAUP), the PSU Faculty Association (PSUFA), and the Graduate Employee Union (GEU).

The DAELR, working in collaboration with Human Resources and the office of Equity and Compliance, is responsible for overseeing the functions of academic employment in the areas of performance management, progressive discipline, employee conduct, setting expectations, and workplace interventions. The Director will formulate strategies to strengthen employee and labor relations and implement proactive supervisory training as it relates to performance management and employee relations issues. The DAELR provides collaborative and consultative advice and counsel on a wide range of issues and topics including academic labor contract interpretation, application, negotiation, and compliance for the University. Collaboration with peer directors, managers, administrators, department heads, and supervisors at PSU fosters supportive employee engagement and guides employee and labor relations matters toward positive outcomes.

The DAELR oversees grievance proceedings, information request processes, and may appear on behalf of the University for arbitration, mediation, and appeal hearings. The Director will collaborate with the Human Resources staff, the Office of Equity and Compliance, and the General Counsel’s Office. By providing coaching and training, the DAELR acts as the leader in establishing proactive approaches - helping to ensure compliance with Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), University Policy, PSU Standards, and best practices.


The DAELR’s responsibilities breakdown includes:

Employee Relations:

  • Advises the provost, vice provost, managers, supervisors, and employees on performance management and other workplace issues; conducts investigations as needed; recommends solutions to disputes and/or performance or misconduct issues;
  • Provides consultation to managers and supervisors on corrective actions, including disciplinary actions involving bargaining unit employees to ensure consistent and fair application of the principles of due process and just cause, as well as collective bargaining agreements and University policy;
  • Interprets collective bargaining language and relevant employment laws and policies for supervisors and employees;
  • Assists managers and other PSU investigatory bodies, including Human Resources and General Counsel with employment investigations and disciplinary proceedings, coordinates responses to employee grievances; prepares for and assists in presenting arbitration and contested cases, may appear on behalf of the University at arbitration, mediation, and appeal hearings;
  • Conducts training for managers and supervisors in contract administration, due process, and related employee relations issues in cooperation with Human Resources.

Labor Relations:

  • Builds relationships with campus union leadership, meets with union leadership, and representatives regularly to resolve concerns, problems, and grievances;
  • Works with stakeholders, bargaining team, and management team to develop negotiation strategies, draft contract language, and prepare communication plans;
  • Serves on bargaining teams either as chief spokesperson for collective bargaining or as a member of the University’s bargaining team;
  • Maintains an in-depth understanding of AAUP, GEU, and PSUFA collective bargaining agreements, and associated Letters of Agreement (LOAs), Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs), and Memorandum of Agreement (MOAs); including implementation and administration of said agreements;
  • Serves as the primary contact for AAUP, GEU, and PSUFA regarding contract administration and leads and/or participates in meetings with the bargaining and management teams in preparation for all negotiations and labor relations issues;
  • Represents the University at meetings with AAUP, PSUFA, and GEU;
  • Provides training to managers and supervisors regarding the interpretation and application of the AAUP, PSUFA, and GEU collective bargaining agreements, progressive discipline, and performance management;
  • Oversees all Requests for Information;
  • Manages Grievance Process, provides consultation to managers who are decision-makers in the grievance process and may serve as a decision-maker in the grievance process under rare circumstances;
  • Manages Demands to Bargain and Unfair Labor Practice filings.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree with ten or more years of experience in employee or labor relations (or) an advanced degree with five or more years of relevant experience in employee or labor relations;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of employee and labor relations and skill in supervision, performance management, mediation, conflict resolution techniques, labor contract negotiations, practices and strategies, and contract administration;
  • Experience as a first or second chair negotiator on a collective bargaining team;
  • Demonstrated high standards of ethics and integrity, setting an example of excellent service and work standards for Portland State;
  • Outstanding management skills, exemplary ability to build rapport and trusting relationships within the Office of Academic Affairs and the University;
  • Strong written and communication skills and demonstrated expertise in negotiating, facilitating, or mediating the resolution of employment or human resource-related issues;
  • Capable of solving problems while weighing interests of multiple parties with different perspectives;
  • Experience working and collaborating in diverse and inclusive settings with a willingness to change for continual improvement;
  • Ability to manage multiple complex projects concurrently with a high degree of self-sufficiency in administrative duties and effective time management;
  • Proven competency in using computerized systems for word processing, spreadsheet applications, and databases to retrieve and analyze data and/or create reports;
  • Ability to establish and maintain professional and collaborative working relationships and partnerships with all contacts and importantly, labor organizations and various interest groups;
  • Competency in reconciling labor relations issues in the context of both existing labor agreements and desired future states of labor and employee relations.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with higher education labor-management relations, grievance administration and/or collective bargaining, either representing an institution of higher education or a labor organization in the higher education environment;
  • Knowledge of Oregon employment law, in particular, the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act, and the Oregon Employment Relations Board;
  • Experience with public sector labor and employee relations activities;
  • Familiarity with university organizational structure, policy, and political issues in higher education.

Key Cultural Competencies:

  • Creates an environment that acknowledges, encourages and celebrates differences.
  • Functions and communicates effectively and respectfully within the context of varying beliefs, behaviors, orientations, identities and cultural backgrounds.
  • Seeks opportunities to gain experience working and collaborating in diverse, multicultural, and inclusive settings with a willingness to change for continual improvement.
  • Adheres to all PSU policies including the policies on Prohibited Discrimination & Harassment and the Professional Standards of Conduct.

About Portland State University:

Portland State University (PSU) is an urban university and Oregon’s largest, located in the heart of the vibrant city of Portland. PSU educates over 27,000 students and offers programs for Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. PSU is an internationally recognized urban university known for excellence in student learning, innovative research, and community engagement. PSU contributes to the economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and quality of life in the Portland region and beyond. Employees describe Portland State University as a vibrant, diverse, progressive place to work and an environment that welcomes process improvement and innovation. Portland State’s 50-acre downtown campus is located in the heart of one of America’s most vibrant centers of culture, business, and technology. See

To Apply:

Confidential review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Applications received by March 10, 2019 will be given first consideration. Please submit your resume and a brief letter of interest. To apply online, go to:

For more information or to make nominations:

Stephanie Fowler
Senior Consultant
Summit Search Solutions, Inc
Direct: (530) 677-9945
[email protected]

PSU is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer, and seeks candidates who are committed to the highest standards of scholarship and professional activities and a campus climate that supports equality, diversity and inclusion.

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