Faculty union files motion

Andrew popik

The Kent State chapter of the American Association of University Professors filed a motion with the State Employment Relations Board Monday concerning the disputed Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The faculty and the university have been in contract negotiations since May of 2004, Cheryl Casper, professor and AAUP-KSU chapter president said. The previous Collective Bargaining Agreement expired on Sept. 15, 2004.

Three major issues held up negotiations, Casper said. The issues of benefits, salary and a representation fee for non-union members went to a fact-finder, a neutral, third-party person hired to determine a fair and reasonable compromise.

A fact-finder’s report is not binding, Casper said, but one or both parties must reject it. If a party does not reject the report, it serves as the new contract.

The AAUP accepted the findings, while the university has not publicly accepted or rejected the report.

Now, Casper said, the university and the faculty are in a contract dispute.

Although some faculty were disappointed in aspects of the report, such as sections dealing with salary specifics, Casper said, the AAUP-KSU voted to accept the report in November.

“Given the tough economic times in the state of Ohio, it was a fair contract,” Casper said.

According to a statement released by the AAUP-KSU, the motion stated that the collective bargaining agreement was accepted due to Kent State’s failure to properly and timely reject the fact-finder’s report. Casper said the AAUP-KSU asked the State Employment Relations Board to rule that faculty does have a ratified contract.

The AAUP-KSU is optimistic that the State Employment Relations Board will rule in its favor, Casper said.

Scott Rainone, assistant director of university media relations, said the university is aware of the complaint.

“The university feels that the complaint is without merit and will wait for the process to work itself out,” Rainone said.

The AAUP-KSU has asked the university to honor what it considers the first year of the agreement, Casper said, and to give due promotion and salary increases.

“I think faculty have been very patient, but at this point they’d like to have their raises,” Casper said.

The AAUP-KSU also wants the university to work with the health benefits review committee from the start, as they have done in the past. Casper said the university has violated policy by not providing a review committee before negotiations. The fact-finder’s report agreed with Casper.

Other important issues reviewed by the fact-finder involved salary rates and representation fees. The AAUP-KSU represents all full-time tenure-track faculty, but only about 60 percent of faculty are dues-paying members, Casper said. The representation fee would cover fees for non-members at a lesser cost.

The fact-finder’s report asked for a vote of all faculty members to decide whether to have a fee or not. On the issue of faculty salary, the fact-finder favored the university’s fixed salary position.

It is not known when the State Employment Relations Board will rule on the motion, Casper said.

Contact academics reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].