Faculty votes, approves AAUP fair-share fee

Amanda Garrett

Kent State faculty voted to approve a fair-share fee for both units of the American Association of University Professors, the union announced yesterday.

Tenure-track faculty voted to approve the fee by a vote of 481-147, while non-tenure track faculty voted to approve the fee 151-44.

Both proposals had to receive an absolute majority of 50 percent plus one to pass. AAUP membership in the tenure track unit is currently 60 percent of the 850 members, AAUP President Cheryl Casper said. The non-tenure track unit has about 250 members out of 370 faculty.

Casper said 77 percent of faculty who participated in the vote gave their approval for a fair-share fee.

“Our members voted overwhelmingly for the fee, but we’re also gratified by the level of support from non-members,” she said. “A lot of non-members recognize the importance of the job we do.”

The fee will begin in August 2006 and will require all non-union members to pay the equivalent of dues. AAUP members currently pay about 8/10 of 1 percent of their salary in dues.

The AAUP will audit their expenses this year to determine the amount of money spent on collective bargaining and grievances. The audit will determine the percentage of the fair-share fee, which is expected to be very close to the amount of the dues, Casper said.

The fee will be in place until the current contract expires in 2008, Associate Provost Gayle Ormiston said. A fair-share fee will have to be re-negotiated when the current contract expires in three years, but there will probably not be another vote, Casper said.

“It’s taken more than 30 years to get a fair-share fee in place,” she said. “Now that we’ve accomplished that goal, I can’t anticipate not having a fair-share fee.”

The vote was part of the collective bargaining agreement Kent State reached with the AAUP in August.

The AAUP requested fair share be imposed during collective bargaining, but the university insisted that a vote be held first, said Ormiston in an earlier interview. Casper said the fee will go to help Kent State faculty.

“We don’t spend money frivolously,” she said. “The bulk of the money we spend goes to help faculty. We will look very carefully at ways to give more support and resources to the faculty.”

The AAUP brings in about $270,000, most of it in dues, Casper said.

The majority of the AAUP’s expenses are spent on arbitration and grievance procedures for faculty, Casper said. The rest of the money goes to dues to the national AAUP and to the salaries of AAUP-KSU’s two employees.

The fair-share fee could lead to better relations between the university and the AAUP, Casper said.

“I think it could lead to more collaborative work with the university, assuming that’s what they want,” Casper said. “I think it will change the tenor and tone of future bargaining agreements.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].