Faculty strike a last resort for union

Dear Editor:

Your July 13 board editorial invited administrators and faculty to begin a dialogue with students about the potential for a faculty strike. I want to try and explain from a faculty perspective why a strike would be an absolute last resort. How much do we want to avoid a strike? So much that we have long been in the habit of accepting salary increases that we know won’t even keep pace with inflation. So much that we have remained hopeful about contract negotiations for a record 14 months, even though we haven’t had a raise since September 2003. The administration has expressed its gratitude by demanding that we accept such unreasonable increases in health benefit costs that even the meager raises we routinely accept will likely be consumed, if not exceeded, by these increases. Our salaries — not adjusted for inflation but the simple dollar amount — could actually decrease as a result.

We are the ones who know you personally, who engage you in sustained conversation, who earned multiple degrees so we could do these things in the first place. And we are the ones who know how many of you work full or part time so you can minimize the debt you will be carrying after graduation. We can identify, because we now face our own potential for increasing debt. Our mortgages, our rent, our car payments, our health care costs, the costs of supporting children will all become much more burdensome if we have to bear what even a University committee consisting of six administrators and only three faculty members called unnecessary and excessive increases in health care expense.

We have, at best, only the vaguest notion of the administration’s response to our anxieties. If this surprises and concerns you, that’s because it should. If the administration were in the habit of engaging faculty in genuine dialogue about the state of the University (financial or otherwise), we would never have reached the situation in which we now find ourselves.

Kevin Floyd

Associate Professor of English

Proposed contract tarnishes Kent State

Dear Editor:

As a faculty member, I understand how helpless students feel given the possibility of a faculty strike. Please be assured that Kent State faculty have done and continue to do everything they can to avert a strike.

We have been willing to follow the recommendations of the neutral fact-finders and the Health Benefits Review Committee. The administration has not. The best contract proposal our negotiating team could secure from an intransigent administration was recently rejected by 91 percent of voting faculty in a record turnout, but administration representatives have already stated their intention to regress to an even worse offer when we return to the table (Gayle Ormiston, Summer Kent Stater, July 13). Sadly, this is typical of their behavior in negotiations over the last 14 months. Believe me, the faculty wouldn’t even be considering a strike if we didn’t think that lesser measures would motivate the administration to bargain in good faith.

Clearly, students have thought long and hard about the repercussions of a faculty strike. It is time to focus on the repercussions should the faculty decide against a strike: the administration will simply impose its “last, best and final” offer. Kent State will go from offering one of the best benefit plans in the state to one of the worst plans at any public university in the nation. It will be difficult to attract and retain talented faculty, and over time the value of a degree from Kent State will diminish. As such, this issue affects not only currently enrolled students, but also those who have recently received their degrees, and all future Kent State students.

If anyone has any questions about the possibility of a faculty strike, I would be happy to try to address them. Feel free to e-mail me your questions and concerns at [email protected] Be assured that the Kent State faculty always has Kent State students in mind.

Dr. Deborah C. Smith

Associate Professor of Philosophy