WSU faculty files strike notice

By Whitney Vickers - [email protected]

FAIRBORN — The American Association of University Professors Wright State University Chapter filed a strike notice with the Ohio SERB Jan. 7 following a meeting with the Wright State University Board of Trustees Jan. 4 in which members issued a resolution of its “last, best offer” and voted in a public session to immediately implement the terms and conditions of the proposal.

The union represents approximately 560 of Wright State’s more than 3,000 employees.

According to a press release by Wright State, the offer maintains faculty salaries at current levels, which is above the average salary for university professors, according to the AAUP 2017-18 Faculty Compensation Survey. Wright State University full professors earn, on average, $119,600 over the nine-month academic year with the ability to supplement over the summer. Full professors at comparable Ohio public universities earn an average salary of $117,322. The AAUP survey also indicated that full professors at 1,018 institutions nationally earn on average $104,820.

“The employment terms are fair in light of our unprecedented financial crisis, and the actions we have taken to respond to the crisis. Under the terms of our last and best offer, our faculty would continue to enjoy higher salaries than their peers at similar state universities,” Wright State President Cheryl Shrader said. “Faculty would also receive the same competitive healthcare benefits provided to all other Wright State employees.”

Wright State added that the offer also places faculty in a competitive, unified health care plan with all university administrators and other employees.

The AAUP-WSU wrote in a release that the board of trustees “clearly intends to have fewer faculty teaching more and larger classes, and the imposed contract would enable them to effect such changes.”

“The faculty feel compelled to stand up for the quality of the education we provide our students – individualized attention and a rich variety of academic offerings – and the value of the degrees our alumni have earned,” the release said.

The AAUP-WSU also pointed out in a press release that while faculty were working under the old contract last year, Wright State avoided fiscal watch and generated a $10 million surplus.

“The Schrader administration and the board continue to use the board-created financial crisis as an excuse to undermine fundamental principles of higher education adhered to at virtually all American universities,” the release said. “The imposed contract also eliminates our right to negotiate over healthcare. It would immediately result in Wright State faculty having the worst healthcare plans among Ohio’s state universities and provide the administration with unlimited authority to further slash coverage at their whim. Many other articles in their imposed contract diminish the faculty voice in university decisions.”

According to Wright State, the terms and conditions keeps intact and does not change the existing language concerning layoffs, defers to state law and university policy to govern faculty workload, and calls for AAUP-WSU faculty member health care plans and furlough language to mirror that of all other university employees. The terms and conditions also stipulate dean and department chair control, and not seniority control, over summer teaching assignment modifications to maximize service to students and detail a new early retirement incentive program.

“We have negotiated in good faith for nearly two years, and these employment terms reflect our continued good faith. We have kept in place the current retrenchment and layoff procedures to ease any faculty concerns, and will work with the Faculty Senate on a workload policy,” Shrader said.

Additionally, Wright State said the trustees voted to adopt a merit pay system for faculty where merit pay is awarded based on dean and department chair discretion. The trustees also adopted language for continuing appointment and promotion for non-tenure eligible faculty that keeps a system of continuing, automatic renewal of teaching contracts but increases the length of time for moving them from fixed-term appointments to continuing contracts and includes an initial requirement of attaining the rank of senior lecturer or clinical assistant professor.

“Our faculty have been attempting to resolve this contract without a strike for 24 months, but our attempts have been repeatedly rebuffed,” AAUP-WSU President Marty Kich said. “This reckless board needs more faculty input and oversight, not less.”

Wright State added that the terms also place faculty in a unified health care plan with all university administrators and other employees, which is a necessary practice to keep healthcare costs down for everyone.

By Whitney Vickers

[email protected]

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.