AAUP-WSU strike continues


By Whitney Vickers - wvickers@aimmediamidwest.com



FAIRBORN — Wright State University is assuring its students that the work they are completing while the protest held by the American Association of University Professors — Wright State University chapter is taking place will still count toward the completion of their degree.

In an email sent to the Wright State student body, Provost Dr. Susan Edwards told pupils that “it is imperative” that they continue to attend class and complete their work as assigned

“All student work will be credited toward your final class grade,” Edwards wrote. “If an issue does arise regarding the recognition of credit, the matter should be referred immediately to the dean of that college to be addressed.”

She also reminded students that classes may continue through the remainder of the semester with the current replacement instructor instead of the regular faculty member.

If students are being impacted by classroom disruption, Wright State said it is offering to meet with students to create individual course completion or graduation paths.

“Our job as a university is to provide a pathway and an experience toward degree completion to all our students,” a Wright State spokesperson said in an email. “The university recognizes that students’ respect and support their professors. The university can only encourage students to meet with advisors and department chairs for their help but cannot force students to do so.”

The spokesperson added that the college realizes that keeping the current replacement instructors in place through the remainder of the semester will “ensure a more certain classroom experience.” Therefore, the replacement instructors have been approved to teach the full term. The spring term is scheduled to take place until Saturday, April 27, followed by course examinations to begin Monday, April 29. The spring graduation commencement ceremony is slated for Saturday, May 4.

“The actions of faculty members who continue to participate in the union’s strike do not change the university’s obligations to its students, community partners and government authorities to continue operating the university,” the spokesperson wrote.

However, Wright State is still welcoming back faculty members who choose to no longer participate in the strike. The spokesperson said within the last few days that Wright State has welcomed back professors from at least seven respective disciplines.

“Uninterrupted class coverage university-wide remains in the mid 80 percent range,” the spokesperson wrote. “This number is climbing as more union faculty return to the classroom, temporary qualified replacement instructors commit to staying with the university for the full term, and new adjunct faculty join the university.”

Wright State said it is unified in its commitment to have AAUP-WSU members join the university’s healthcare place. According to previous press releases by both Wright State and the AAUP-WSU, the parties are being challenged to find a mutually-agreed-upon healthcare plan and terms concerning faculty workload over summer semesters.

Wright State said its most current negotiation, voted to be adopted by trustees Feb. 3, is still on the table. The AAUP-WSU said trustees issued a statement saying that they would no longer consider additional changes to the contract.

“All other university employees, including non-union faculty members, unionized staff and administrators, use this plan,” the spokesperson wrote. “Operating with two separate plans is financially unsustainable for the university and fundamentally unfair for our other employees. The university cannot offer AAUP members healthcare benefits that will be subsidized by and drive up costs for all other campus employees.”

Striking faculty members as well as Wright State students plan to speak at a news conference Friday, Feb. 8 — which will mark the 18 day of the strike — at the Ladies’ Gallery in the Ohio Statehouse. The AAUP-WSU said it is calling upon state leaders to intervene with administration and the board of trustees settle a reasonable agreement to guarantee faculty’s role in academic governance and its right to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.

The AAUP-WSU and Wright State University administration have been unable to agree upon a new contract terms for faculty members for approximately two years. AAUP-WSU members rejected the Wright State University Board of Trustees “last, best offer” they voted to unilaterally adopt Jan. 4. The AAUP-WSU filed an intent to strike notice with the Ohio labor board Jan. 7. AAUP-WSU members started the strike Jan. 22 and have been picketing outside the Dayton campus.

The union and administration started negotiating once again Jan. 27-28. The board of trustees met in executive session Jan. 29 and offered a new contract proposal to the AAUP-WSU on Feb. 1. Trustees voted to adopt the contract Feb. 3 after asking the AAUP-WSU to host a vote among its membership. However, the AAUP-WSU said according to its chapter constitution that members only vote on “tentative agreements” reached by the two parties. The contract would have ended the strike and been in place until June 2023.

By Whitney Vickers

wvickers@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.

Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.