Faculty union members vote to authorize a strike

Rachel Hale

Kent State’s faculty union members voted to authorize a strike over lack of progress in contract negotiations. 

The vote does not mean there will be a strike. It allows the American Association of University Professors at Kent State leadership to call a strike if they deem it necessary.

Ballots were sent out Dec. 5 to tenure-track faculty members and closed Dec. 10.   

95 percent voted yes in the member vote to authorize a strike, with an 80 percent member voter turnout, according to the AAUP-KSU website.

In the non-member poll, 81 percent voted in favor of authorizing a strike. 93 percent of the collective bargaining unit members who participated in the vote also responded yes to authorize a strike.

The union has called for a strike authorization vote in the past, but contract negotiations were settled without a strike.

The vote comes after months of negotiations between the university and the union. AAUP-KSU declared an impasse after an Oct. 24 meeting, after the union and Kent State could not come to an agreement on salary or benefits.

Both parties asked for a federal mediator to be brought in. If the mediator is unable to help both sides come to an agreement they will seek help from a fact-finder.

“Should the parties be unable to reach agreement soon, AAUP-KSU will request Fact-Finding by a neutral third party who will issue a non-binding report,” the union website stated.

If either party rejects the fact-finder’s report, negotiations can continue. But if either side declares an impasse, the faculty union website said, “the University may ‘impose’ the contract without our agreement.”

The only alternatives at that point would be to accept the imposed contract or strike, the AAUP-KSU website said.

If the AAUP-KSU leadership decided to call a strike, by law, they must give the university a 10-day advancement notice.

During a strike, AAUP-KSU faculty members wouldn’t get paid, would have to pay their own health care costs and would lose the university’s contribution to their retirement plans.

The union said if faculty members go on strike they should not hold classes or office hours, give exams, submit grades or attend committee meetings. Non-union members would have to choose whether to strike or teach.

Rachel Hale is the administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected].