Director of Academic and Employee Labor Relations

Portland, Oregon
Jan 25, 2017
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Portland State University seeks a Director of Academic and Employee Labor Relations

The Director of Academic Employee and Labor Relations (DAELR) reports to the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Leadership Development (VPAPLD) and is responsible for the management of academic employee and labor relations as well as the management of collective bargaining negotiations and contract administration, progressive discipline and grievances in a manner that supports positive and professional relationships with employees, union representatives, supervisors, managers, and administrators. Note: references to unions in this description refer to the PSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professor (AAUP), PSU Faculty Association (AFT), and Graduate Employees Union (GEU).

The Director, working in collaboration with Human Resources, is responsible for overseeing the functions of academic employment, employee relations, performance management, supervisory development and labor relations. The Director will provide strong leadership in establishing a proactive approach to academic employee and labor relations by providing coaching and training for supervisors and managers in the areas of performance management, progressive discipline, contract application and interpretation, grievance handling and setting expectations and workplace interventions for academic employees.

The Director provides collaborative and consultative advice and counsel on a wide range of human resources-related issues and topics, including academic labor contract interpretation, application, negotiation, and compliance for the University. S/he collaborates with peer directors, managers, administrators, and supervisors at PSU, providing counsel to senior administrators, department heads, directors, managers, and supervisors across the University in an effort to foster employee engagement and guide employee and labor relations matters. The Director provides counsel and guidance to departments may involve progressive discipline, handling of grievances, and compliance with the collective bargaining agreements with AAUP, GEU, and PSUFA.

The Director leads fact-finding investigations, responds to information requests, and may appear on behalf of the University at arbitration, mediation, and appeal hearings. S/he will formulate strategies to strengthen employee and labor relations effectiveness in the University and implement proactive supervisory training as it relates to performance management and employee relations issues. S/he will collaborate with the HR staff, the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion, and the General Counsel’s Office.

Employee Relations Duties:

  • 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 problems;
  • Provides consultation for managers and supervisors on 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;
  • Leads fact finding investigations, 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;
  • Works with the Human Resources and General Counsel departments on investigations, disciplinary proceeding, grievances, and arbitrations;
  • Conducts training for managers and supervisors in contract administration, due process, and related employee relations issues in cooperation with Human Resources.

Labor Relations Duties:

  • 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;
  • May serve as chief spokesperson for collective bargaining or as member of the University’s bargaining team;
  • Implements and administers collective bargaining agreements;
  • Serves as the primary contact for AAUP, PSUFA, and GEU regarding contract administration and leads and/or participates in meetings with the bargaining and management teams in preparation for all negotiations;
  • Represents the University at meetings with AAUP, PSUFA, and GEU;
  • Provides training to managers and supervisors regarding the interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreements;
  • Coordinates and responds to all Requests for Information;
  • Manages grievance process, Demands to Bargain, and Unfair Labor Practice filings.

Minimum qualifications:

  • BA, with a preference for a higher level degree in a relevant field, i.e., a Master’s degree, JD, or PhD and five to ten years of progressively responsible experience (depending on the nature of the experience) in employee or labor relations, or a combination of education and experience that clearly demonstrates the ability to successfully perform the major duties of the job in a university setting comparable to Portland State University.
  • Direct experience in collective bargaining.
  • Outstanding management skills, exemplary ability to build rapport and trusting relationships within OAA and the University, as well as set an example of excellent service and work standards for Portland State.
  • Knowledge and understanding of employee and labor relations and experience in labor contract negotiations, practices and strategies, and contract administration.
  • Strong written and communication skills and demonstrated expertise in negotiating, facilitating or mediating the resolution of employment or human resource-related issues.
  • High degree of self-sufficiency in administrative duties.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Master’s degree, JD, or PhD and five to ten years of progressively responsible experience (depending on the nature of the experience) in employee or labor relations.
  • Experience with higher education labor management relations, grievance administration and/or collective bargaining, either representing an institution of higher education or a labor organization.
  • Knowledge of Oregon employment law, in particular, the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act, and the Oregon Employment Relations Board.
  • Familiarity with university organizational structure, policy, and political issues in higher education.
  • Experience as a first or second chair negotiator on a collective bargaining team.

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.


About Portland State University

Portland State University (PSU) is Oregon's urban research university recognized for excellence in sustainability and community engagement, and is located in the heart of downtown Portland. PSU offers more than 200 degrees with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. The University’s reputation is built on excellence through accessibility, innovation, collaboration, engagement, sustainability, and transformation. As the state’s only urban public university, Portland State provides comprehensive undergraduate education as well as professional education to thousands of Oregonians as well as to students from over 90 countries around the globe. Portland State is renowned for innovative academic programs and excellence – particularly in fields related to urban and public affairs; business administration; science, technology, and sustainability – that combine student learning, research, and community engagement. The university’s programs continue to garner national recognition and rankings and it was named one of the top ten innovative universities in the country (US News and World Report 2016-2017). To see an up-to-date list of the outstanding PSU rankings and references by Princeton Review, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and other nationally respected organizations, please click on the following link:

Portland State University has approximately 27,200 students with over 21,000 undergraduates and 5,600 graduate students. Some 62 percent of the students are full time, approximately 76 percent are residents of Oregon, and 64 percent are transfer students. The university offers over 200 degree programs at the bachelors, masters and doctoral level. The university has approximately 7,000 employees, including research and instructional faculty, academic professionals, managers, and staff and administrators.

For more information about Portland State University, click here:

For nominations or further information:

Stephanie Fowler
Senior Consultant
Summit Search Solutions, Inc.
Direct: (530) 677-9945

Note: Confidential review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position if filled.

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.