Negotiations continue for faculty union contract agreement

Lauren Sasala

Despite continued mediation sessions, faculty union and the university administration remain at a standstill in agreeing on a contract.

AAUP-KSU and the Board of Trustees met on March 26 with Federal Mediator Brittney Howard, but an insignificant amount of progress was made.

Salary, medical benefits and other benefits are the sections of the contract still under negotiation.

Currently no more mediation sessions are scheduled, but a fact-finding hearing will take place on April 22 and will be led by Barton Bixenstine, a specialist in employment and labor law. 

Before the hearing, AAUP-KSU and the administration will present Bixenstine with proposals. Using the information from both sides, Bixenstine will then present his non-binding contract proposal.

Bixenstine is a teacher at Kent State who is also a member of the Honors College Advisory Board. 

The faculty union and the Board of Trustees will vote whether to accept or reject the proposed report.

If accepted, Bixenstine’s report will serve as the basis for the creation of the new contract.

In an update posted on AAUP-KSU’s website, Deb Smith said if the report is rejected, the union is likely to alert the State Employee Relations Board of the intent to strike.

The strike would begin during the first or second week of the fall semester.

Also in the update, Smith said faculty who wish to participate in the strike and who are up for reappointment, tenure or promotion next year should submit their RTP files before the strike is set to begin.

Any faculty participating in the strike would not teach classes, hold office hours, attend meetings, post grades or administer tests.

However, Smith said the hope is to have both the union and the administration agree with the fact-finder’s report to avoid a strike.

In an update posted by the university, it said they will continue to negotiate with the faculty union and try to balance offering competitive wages while still maintaining the financial viability of the university.

Lauren Sasala covers administration. Contact her at [email protected].