Strike ballots will be sent out

Bethany Jones

The American Association of University Professors will send out strike authorization ballots to members sometime next week.

Cheryl Casper, professor of economics and Kent State chapter president of the AAUP, said that ballots are due back at 1 p.m. Aug. 3. The AAUP is the union representing faculty members. It includes about 500 members out of the 850 full-time faculty members on campus.

If the strike authorization vote passes, it does not mean that a strike will definitely take place, it only means that a strike may occur, Casper said.

Bargaining sessions between faculty and the administration are set to resume next week, she said. A new negotiating team for the faculty is almost complete.

At a Friday meeting, AAUP members discussed if it was to soon to strike, Casper said.

“We are at a point now where we have very few alternatives left,” she said. “The best way to avert a strike is to plan for one.”

Casper said that members voiced concern about the possibility of a strike, but they showed general support.

Ernest Benjamin, senior consultant to the national AAUP, was a guest speaker.

“No one is eager to have a strike, and faculty are not eager to cancel classes,” he said. “I think that the union is being very reasonable, and I feel the administration is taking a particularly hard stance.”

Benjamin said that a strike might take place the week before fall classes resume.

He said that the faculty is still concerned with the health care plan.

In a message posted on an AAUP Listserv, Casper said the union plans to ask for:

– The university to accept the recommendations of a health benefits review committee including the elimination of the “cost pass through” provision.

– Domestic partner benefits where legally possible.

– Lower premiums on a more progressive scale.

– A requirement that non-union members pay a representation fee.

– Modification of a plan to increase salaries if university income increases.

– Merit pay during the last year of the three-year contract.

A university spokesperson could not be reached yesterday for comment.

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