AFSCME, non-tenured faculty still negotiating

Bethany Jones

Negotiations continue between the university and two other unions on campus.

The contract of Local 153 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Kent State University chapter expired in February. A contract with non-tenure-track faculty, also represented by the American Association of University Professors, expires Aug. 16. Non-tenure-track faculty are teachers who aren’t eligible for near-lifetime job security while tenure-track faculty are.

The two unions had worked with AAUP tenure-track faculty negotiations to form a joint proposal to the university.

Leaders of AFSCME-KSU and the non-tenure-track faculty said they hoped the AAUP tenure-track settlement would be a pattern for their contracts.

The American Association of University Professors-Kent State University chapter worked with the Kent State non-tenure-track faculty to try to negotiate new contracts with the university.

“Right now, (the AAUP contract) is just a handshake,” said ASFCME President Ray Davis. “It looks promising that they’ll be able to reach an agreement in stone with all three units. Strength in numbers.”

AFSCME-KSU represents workers in campus environment operations, residence services, dining services, the recreational services and the power house. The union has about 370 members.

Davis said that even after a settlement is reached, the university could expect to see all three units come together to work on projects.

“It’s not just union business,” he said. “The three unions can build a strong relationship. It’s the key to moving the university.”

Davis said the service people who work for the university are here for the students.

“Choose any one of the people that our unit represents and they’ll tell you students are the number one concern,” he said. “You guys are like a second home to us.”

Tracy Laux, president of the AAUP-KSU non-tenure- track faculty unit, said that his union faced similar issues in their contract as those faced by the tenured-track faculty, and the biggest negotiation problem involved health care benefits.

There are about 250 non-tenure employees and about 130 are in the union, he said.

Laux said he hopes that the three units will continue to work together in the future.

“I believe putting our minds together did help,” he said. “I fully expect to have a settled tentative agreement before our contract expires.”

The next bargaining session for non-tenure-track faculty is tomorrow afternoon.

Contact academic affairs reporter Bethany Jones at [email protected].