AAUP agrees on three negotiation articles

Carrie Blazina

The Kent State branch of the American Association of University Professors is still negotiating its members’ contract with the university, but it has come to terms with the school on some articles.

“We have come to tentative agreement on the articles on Management Rights, Association Rights, and Sanctions for Cause,” says its Feb. 28 email update to members of the association.

AAUP and university officials both declined to be interviewed for this story because it is against their collective bargaining rules to speak to the media about active negotiations. However, most of the tentative agreements are posted on the AAUP website.

As previously said by Eric Mintz, second vice president and chief negotiator for the AAUP, the sanctions for cause are for when administration feels a faculty member is not doing his or her job. This allows the faculty member to appear before a body of faculty and defend himself in a hearing or trial.

The changes to the sanctions for cause section include additional privileges for what evidence the university is allowed to present and what questions its representatives are allowed to ask at a faculty member’s hearing. It also says all written materials from a faculty member must be submitted 12 days in advance rather than the seven days in the previous contract.

In older drafts of the management rights article, the university’s negotiators asked for changes to the agreement specifying what the Board of Trustees is allowed to do in terms of hiring, firing, suspending and otherwise disciplining employees.

No significant changes were ultimately made, however, and it is very similar to the version in the 2008 Tenure-Track Collective Bargaining Agreement. It simply says the university and Board have powers and authority from the state to “adopt new or modify or terminate existing policies, rules, regulations, and procedures,” and these rights are not limited by the agreement except where the agreement specifically says so.

The only agreement that has not been posted is the one for association rights. Mintz has previously said these explain what responsibilities the university has to information and who should be notified of things such as faculty promotions and access to parking.

Negotiations for a new contract started July 20, and the professors’ contract expired August 22. The email says professors have been complaining about the length of negotiations and the lack of a final contract, and the AAUP offers a few explanations.

“We got off to a late start to negotiations as the administration was unwilling to put forth any proposals until the state budget situation was resolved in early July,” the email said. “ … We cannot say how much of a factor Senate Bill 5 was in terms of the pace of negotiations.”

Senate Bill 5 was the fall 2011 attempt to make striking illegal and to restrict collective bargaining rights for Ohio public workers like professors at state universities like Kent State.

The email goes on to say 10 articles still need to be agreed upon between the school and the AAUP. The association writes it is still trying to work with administration to resolve negotiations quickly.

“We are happy to work with the administration to improve the function of the University, however, some of their proposals have included what we believe are unneeded reductions in the role of the Faculty in University governance,” the email said. “However, the administration’s negotiating team has now indicated a strong interest in a more speedy resolution of negotiations.”

The association’s previous email update from Jan. 30 said it was proposing a 3 percent salary increase to base for the current academic year, and 4 and 3 percent increases from base for the two following years, respectively. The more recent email update said AAUP hopes to see proposals from the university on salaries and other economic issues “this week.”

According to the AAUP website, the association acts as a union for its members and negotiates between professors and Kent State at times like this when professors need a new contract with the university. It has a tenure-track/tenured branch and a full-time-non-tenure-track branch and represents professors at Kent State’s main and regional campuses.

AAUPs website says the last collective bargaining agreement for the tenure-track members was made in 2008, and the non-tenured-track’s agreement is from 2009.

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].