Faculty union names new negotiators

Bethany Jones

The American Association of University Professors–Kent State University chapter has named its new bargaining team.

In addition to the new Chief Negotiator Lee Fox-Cardamone, who was announced last week, members are Kathy Wilson, economics; Jim Gleeson, physics; Chris Hanousek, biological sciences at Salem Campus; and Paul Fehrmann, libraries and media services.

Cheryl Casper, professor of Economics and president of Kent State chapter of the AAUP, said that the old negotiating team deserved a break after 13 months of talks.

As of yesterday afternoon, Casper said no date was set for negotiations to resume, but said she hoped that they could start as early as today.

“I’m pleased to see negotiations resume. I hope at this point the university is willing to negotiate in a reasonable way,” Casper said.

Strike authorization ballots were sent out Friday to members of the AAUP, the union representing faculty. They are due back at 1 p.m. on Aug. 3.

If a strike authorization vote passes, it does not mean that a strike will take place. It only means that the AAUP Council can call a strike without another vote from its membership, Casper said.

A council meeting is set for Aug. 4 to discuss the status of authorization vote.

Members of the AAUP voted overwhelmingly to reject a tentative contract offer July 6 after 13 months of negotiations. University negotiators had told faculty that they had given them their “last, best and final offer.”

Since the vote, Ron Kirksey, executive director of University Communications, has said that the university is waiting for the union to make the next move. He said the university is open to a “real, genuine proposal” from the union.

Michael Lee, professor of physics and chair of the AAUP’s action committee, said that if the AAUP would choose to strike, it would have to file notification with the State Employment Relations Board at least 10 days in advance.

Lee said that the AAUP filed with SERB yesterday to set up informational picketing on Aug. 8. He said that they hope to meet around noon at the front of campus and at the Student Center.

“The value of informational picketing is more public pressure, social pressure, and community pressure on the other party,” he said. “It’s to generate support for the cause.”

Frank Smith, professor of mathematical sciences and chairman of the strike committee, said that if a strike were to take place, it would most likely be the week before classes resume.

Smith said he has been putting together a list of people who have agreed to picket. He said that picketers would be assigned to certain scheduled times and days.

“We’re making plans as to how to essentially shut the campus down,” Smith said.

That involves figuring out how to get deliveries to stop, construction to stop and faculty members to stop coming to the university, he said.

“We assume administrators will continue to come,” he said. “We will make no effort to tell civil service employees not to.”

Smith said that the AAUP has purchased Web sites off campus so that they will not be dependent upon the university Web site.

“We do not trust the university to continue to host the union Web site if we go on strike,” Lee said. “This is cheap and sort of the obvious thing to do.”

The new site will be up and running with in the next few days, he said.

Scott Rainone, assistant director of university media relations, said the university “obviously want to avoid a strike, and we hope the faculty know there are other options.”

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