AAUP files unfair labor charge against WSU


By Whitney Vickers - wvickers@aimmediamidwest.com



FAIRBORN — The American Association of University Professors-Wright State University Chapter has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Wright State with the Ohio State Employment Relations Board, as well as a motion to expedite the investigation.

“We filed our [unfair labor practice charge] in large part because the administration did not negotiate with us at all after our members overwhelmingly rejected the fact-finding report in early November,” AAUP-WSU President Dr. Marty Kich said in a press release. “The administration’s so-called ‘last, best offer’ was never offered to us at all. In fact, we read about it in the press before being informed by the administration.”

According to an attachment to the unfair labor practice charge, a collective bargaining agreement between the AAUP and WSU expired June 30, 2017; both parties have been negotiating since January 2017. The AAUP-WSU and Wright State administration both signed ground rules Jan. 13, 2017 that included a language stating that both parties would conduct negotiations at the bargaining table with the intent of reaching a mutually beneficial contract.

After the parties failed to reach an agreement, they chose to proceed with the help of a neutral fact-finding process. Hearings were held April 3-4 and May 22-23, according to the unfair labor charge attachment. After the hearings took place but before the fact-finding report was released, meetings with “small groups from each side” — including Kich and Wright State University President Cheryl Shrader — were held. According to the AAUP-WSU, the AAUP-WSU “outlines areas in which they were willing to make concessions,” and “no agreement was reached.”

Fact-Finder issued its report on Oct. 29. The Wright State University Board of Trustees voted to accept the report, while the AAUP voted to reject the report. The AAUP-WSU said after the rejection that union officials told Shrader that they were “ready to negotiate.” The AAUP-WSU attachment said Shrader said she would forward the offer to negotiate to the WSU board of trustees, who would want to meet with the AAUP-WSU to discuss next steps. However, the AAUP-WSU said that meeting never took place.

The AAUP-WSU also said that it had requested information from the university’s general counsel to assist with the upcoming negotiations. However, the group received monthly summary notes and was questioned over the need for additional information, according to the charge.

“The summary notes were not even remotely responsive to the request,” the attachment said, adding that the AAUP-WSU did explain why they needed the information. However, the requested information has not been provided.

“After our members rejected the fact-finding report, to prepare for the negotiations we wanted and expected, we asked the administration for information about health care expenditures. This is an area of significant expense for every employer and one of the areas in which we were prepared to offer concessions. But despite our request and two follow-ups, we have received only a tiny fragment of the information we needed,” said Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum, chief negotiator for AAUP-WSU and president of the national AAUP. “The only reasonable conclusion is that the administration and board of trustees continue to have no wish to negotiate with us at all; they want to impose a punitive contract on our faculty, despite the harm that will ensue for our students, the university’s reputation, and the value of a Wright State degree.”

Over winter break at the university, AAUP-WSU officials said they read a news article stating that the WSU board of trustees had implemented its “last, best offer” on terms and conditions of employment to the school’s faculty union after failing to reach an agreement. The attorney representing the board of trustees was quoted in the story stating “[did] not believe that any continuation of discussion with the AAUP[-WSU] would be fruitful at this time.”

The attachment said Kich received correspondence from a school official of a copy of the resolution that had been passed by the board of trustees as well as a copy of the labor contract the board was “unilaterally implementing.”

“The board resolution, as well as the ‘last, best offer’ had been communicated to the news media before being communicated to the AAUP-WSU,” the attachment said, adding that “the board’s purported ‘last, best offer’ has never been offered to the AAUP-WSU.”

The offer, according to the unfair labor practice charge attachment, is worse than the fact-finding report. The attachment listed examples concerning merit pay, non-tenure tracked appointment and promotion, health care and furloughs.

“As a result of the action of the board of trustees to unilaterally implement a ‘last, best offer,’ which was never offered to the AAUP-WSU; negotiate in public by presenting its ‘last, best offer’ to the news media before presenting it to the AAUP-WSU; refuse to provide information requested which is critical to allowing the AAUP-WSU to present an offer that could meet the financial needs of the university; and unilaterally implementing a collective three bargaining agreement, which is even worse that the fact-finding report that the board unanimously approved, among other actions, the AAUP-WSU had no choice but to file a notice of intent to strike,” the unfair labor charge attachment said.

The notice of intent to strike filed by the AAUP-WSU includes a strike deadline of Tuesday, Jan. 22; there are approximately 564 AAUP-WSU members.

By Whitney Vickers

wvickers@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.