AAUP-WSU to strike, WSU addresses concerns


By Whitney Vickers - wvickers@aimmediamidwest.com



FAIRBORN — In response to the unfair labor practice charged filed by the American Association of University Professors – Wright State University Chapter, Wright State officials have expressed that they do not believe they have engaged in any unfair labor practices.

The Wright State University Board of Trustees unanimously passed a “last, best offer” Jan. 4 after attempting to negotiate a mutually beneficial contract since 2017. In 2018, the board and the AAUP-WSU Chapter opted to utilize a neutral fact-finder process. Hearings were held in the springs months and the findings were released in the fall. The board voted to adopt the fact-finder report, while the AAUP-WSU voted to reject the report.

AAUP-WSU officials said they requested information to continue negotiating after rejecting the report, but never received the information they requested. They also said they were notified of the board of trustees “last, best offer” through the media and not through university officials.

A university spokesperson said comments made by the school regarding the charge would be confined to its filings so that it can avoid prejudicing the decision-maker in the ruling.

“We are disappointed the AAUP-WSU, which represents about 560 of our more than 1,700 faculty members has voted to approve a strike. The university has negotiated in good faith for nearly two years. We have done everything in our power to avoid a strike, and provide our students with a high quality education. The Jan. 4 board of trustees action was not a negotiating tactic. It was the implementation of our last and best terms of employment.”

According to an attachment on the unfair labor practice charge, the AAUP-WSU Chapter officials said the “last, best offer” is worse than the fact-finder report concerning merit pay, non-tenure tracked appointment and promotion, as well as health care and furloughs.

“These employment terms keep our faculty salaries higher than comparable universities and provide faculty with access to high quality comprehensive healthcare coverage,” the university said in its response. “They maintain current retrenchment and layoff procedures to ease any faculty concerns and also work with the Faculty Senate on a workload policy. In light of the university’s well-publicized financial challenges, it is the very best we can do.”

Wright State addressed concerns set forth by the AAUP-WSU including healthcare, furlough and workload.

“The university needs structural change to recover from its financial crisis that required it to address a $30 million budget deficit. All of the university’s other employees have already accepted changes to their terms and conditions of employment,” the university said.

Healthcare

Wright State officials said healthcare it offers its employees are compariable to other universities in the area and competetive on a state-level and that deductibles are lower at Wright State compared to University of Dayton, Miami University, Central State University and more. Wright State added that the college must have a uniform healthcare plan.

“Wright State has modified the healthcare plan for all non-bargaining unit faculty member employees as part of the structural changes needed to move forward a balanced budget. But AAUP-WSU has refused to accept the same healthcare plan as all other employees. Again, the university is providing the same plan to AAUP-WSU members that it provides to clerical staff, support staff and everyone else,” Wright State officials said. “The uniform healthcare plan will result in significant savings for the university but no disruption in service to AAUP-WSU members.”

Furloughs

Wright State officials said the AAUP-WSU are not permitted to work on a furlough day, which is an alternative to a layoff

“Under the board resolution, which directs the Administration’s use of the terms of employment, Bargaining Unit Faculty Members (BUFMs) could only be furloughed if the SB 6 (fiscal watch) score for the University falls below 2.4 for two consecutive years,” Wright State said. “Further, BUFMs could only be furloughed after or simultaneously with other employees, in a manner not inconsistent with the university’s general furlough policy, which caps potential furlough days for all employees. Moreover, the administration has accepted the board’s advice in the resolution that BUFMs could only be furloughed up to two days per semester until June 30, 2020.”

Workload

Wright State said Provost Susan Edwards made it clear during the November faculty senate meeting that Wright State will continue to maintain its workload requirements in line with its classification. The university said it is not planning to change those basic requirements of a “3-2 teaching load for TET faculty and a 3-4 load for NTE faculty.”

However, Wright State added that the university is required by law to remove workload from the AAUP-WSU labor agreement. Under state law, it is illegal for workload to be bargained, as the fact-finder found, according to Wright State. The fact-finder found that workload is a management right.

Edwards will work with the faculty senate through committees that are composed of faculty from both NTE and TET ranks from across all colleges formerly covered by the MOUs, Wright State said, adding that faculty senate leadership will continue to be involved in the developm”There is no basis for the AAUP-WSU’s claim that the university will assign workload in a manner to hurt students, spread faculty thinner, and lower the quality of education at Wright State,” Wright State said.ent of a workload policy.

By Whitney Vickers

wvickers@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.