AAUP urges against voting for contract extension

Kristine Gill

The faculty union released its reasons on Monday for recommending that faculty vote against the administration’s proposed one-year contract extension.

In an e-mail sent to all tenure-track faculty members, Lee Fox, American Association of University Professors-KSU chapter president, said the council thought the proposal was “a bad deal” for faculty who deserve better.

Fox would not elaborate on the outlined points because negotiating in the press is not allowed during contract negotiations.

In the e-mail, the council said faculty salaries have been falling behind the rate of inflation for years and that the proposed 3 percent increase would not be enough to overcome the growing gap. In addition, the e-mail said Kent State faculty are being paid less than faculty at other Ohio universities.

Assistant professor Eric Mintz said these points were based on statistics from university surveys.

“The AAUP does a national survey of faculty salaries every year,” he said. “They’re published in the AAUP magazine and the Chronicle of Higher Education.”

Mintz said that Ohio State compiles faculty salary statistics from the 10 Ohio public doctoral-granting institutions each year.

“I used that data to calculate the percent change in average faculty salaries from 2000-2001 to this academic year and compared it to the change in the consumer price index, which is how we measure inflation,” Mintz said.

Mintz also had data comparing salaries among the other Ohio colleges.

“In 2000-2001 we were ranked second in salary for full and associate professors and third in the assistant rank,” Mintz said. “Now we are seventh, eighth and seventh.”

According to data gathered by AAUP and available on the Chronicle for Higher Education Web site, full professors are paid, on average, $96,100 – seventh out of the 10. The average pay for a full professor at those institutions is $98,220, with Ohio State’s $121,600 being the highest and Akron’s $89,900 the lowest. Ranking fifth and sixth are Cleveland State and Ohio University, at $96,600 and $96,400, respectively – both within $500 of Kent State.

Associate professors at Kent State average $69,400, with the average for the 10 at $70,970, while assistant professors average $57,600, compared with a $60,070 average for the 10.

The third point of contention compared recent administrative salaries to faculty salaries. The third point listed in the e-mail said based on generous administrative salary increases, it was hard for council representatives to believe there wasn’t enough money for additional faculty raises.

The last point in the e-mail questioned the availability of funds for merit-based salaries.

“Merit is a pool of money that can be distributed to faculty members based on achievement instead of across the board raises made regardless of achievement,” Fox said in an interview. “The proposed extension doesn’t speak to merit.”

On the issue of domestic partner benefits, the e-mail said they remain one of the highest priorities. They expressed concern, however, that the current offer was “overly restrictive,” by only extending the offer to those partners not otherwise covered by another employer.

“We believe that domestic partner benefits should be in place now as a matter of fundamental fairness and equity – they should not be held hostage for other paltry contract provisions,” the e-mail said.

If faculty vote against the one-year contract, regular negotiations will begin this summer. Faculty Senate Chair Cheryl Casper would lead the faculty team as chief negotiator. Casper, who is retiring after this semester, will be retained by AAUP as independent contractor for the negotiations.

Fox said in her message that voting would be conducted through e-mail and that faculty should expect a ballot within a week. Faculty must be AAUP-KSU members to vote but can still join in time to vote by contacting the office.

Contact academic affairs reporter Kristine Gill at [email protected].