Administration rejects offer of joint statement

Maria Nann

AAUP presents salary, benefit proposals, awaits university reply

Kent State and the American Association of University Professors will not be issuing a joint statement at the beginning of contract negotiations this year.

Cheryl Casper, chief negotiator for the faculty, said AAUP had suggested issuing a joint statement to set a positive tone for negotiations.

“In the past, the parties have issued a joint statement,” Casper said. “We’ve (now) moved on to negotiating specific issues.”

After several bargaining sessions, the idea for an early joint statement was dismissed after the administration bargaining team rejected a sentence regarding domestic partner benefits.

According to a memo from AAUP to its members, the rejected sentence said the two teams would agree upon a mutual goal for negotiations of “contract provisions that will extend domestic partner benefits to KSU’s tenured and tenure track faculty members.”

Casper wouldn’t comment on whether the administration had given any indication as to why the sentence had been refused.

Gayle Ormiston, chief negotiator for the administration, also declined to comment.

“I have no comment with regards to anything having to do with negotiations,” he said.

Casper said AAUP presented its proposal for salary and benefits during a bargaining session July 11, but it is still waiting on a response from the administration.

The teams have set July 31 as their goal for the completion of negotiations, and the rejection of the statement has not daunted AAUP’s pursuit of domestic partner benefits for tenured faculty.

Casper said the administration’s rejection of domestic partner benefits as part of the statement does not indicate whether they will reject it as part of negotiations.

“They remain a priority,” she said, “one of the highest priorities. We had hoped the administration felt the same way.”

Ormiston, who is set to begin as Marshall University’s new Provost Aug. 18, said he doesn’t expect his absence to have a significant effect on negotiations.

“I think we have very good teams,” Ormiston said. “There are very good people involved that will bring negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion.”

In a memo sent to members of Kent State’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, union leaders outlined the following proposals:

Proposed salary increases:

&bull A 3 percent raise across the board for the 2008-09 year and a 3 percent merit pool mid-year.

&bull A 5 percent raise across the board for the 2009-10 year.

&bull A 4 percent raise across the board for the 2010-11 year and a 2 percent merit pool.

Proposed benefit changes:

&bull Domestic partner benefits.

&bull Improved dental coverage.

&bull Family and medical leave.

&bull Sick leave donation.

&bull Retirement incentive program.

The union is still waiting on the administration’s response to these proposals, the memo said.

In April, the university offered the AAUP a one-year contract extension with a 3 percent salary increase, domestic partner benefits and no change to health care costs. The non-tenure track approved the proposal, while the tenure track faculty rejected it

Contact principal reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].