University administration and union both claim that talk of a strike is premature

WSU Campus. Photograph: Soham Parikh/The Guardian

Last Monday, administration and the faculty union received a report from a Fact Finder, an independent third party tasked with reviewing unresolved issues in contract negotiations between the two parties.

The report showed that the Fact Finder sided with the administration’s proposals on the majority of issues.

Following its release, both administration and the faculty union released separate statements responding to the Fact Finder report.

At a Nov. 1 meeting, The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the report, indicating that administration believes it should be incorporated into the next three-year faculty contract.

“The trustees felt that approving this report was in the best interest of our students and the university and it will help Wright State move forward,” President Cheryl Schrader said in a press release. “I think both parties would have preferred to have negotiated a longer settlement.”

The faculty union responded to the report by releasing a recommendation to reject it. “The Fact Finder was clearly influenced by the hyperbolic arguments made by the administration’s labor attorney, arguments that President Schrader and members of the Board walked back at the most recent Board of Trustees meeting,” the recommendation reads.

The union must now formally vote on the report. Voting will be open until 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Three-fifths of the of the union’s membership would have to vote against the report in order to officially reject it.

After voting is completed, the vote must be certified by the State Employee Relations Board (SERB) of Ohio. After it has been certified, the union may share the results of their vote.

If the union accepts the report, then its language will be adopted into the next three-year faculty contract. Should they vote to reject the report, contract negotiations must continue.

The two parties can either reach an agreement amongst themselves or the administration may impose its last best offer, at which point the union has said they would initiate the process to go on strike.

If it comes to that point, the union must give both the university and SERB ten days’ notice of their intent to strike. Negotiations may resume at any point within that time. After that period has passed, the union reserves the right to go on strike.

If a strike does occur, both parties will have to resume negotiations, according to Martin Kich, president of the faculty union. “There would be no reason not to sit down and negotiate during that ten-day period,” he said.

There is no set date by which the union could strike, should they choose to do so. It will depend on the stance that both sides take once votes are reported, according to Kich. “At this point, nobody actually has a date,” he said.

Kich has said before that the faculty do not want to go on strike. “Even if you strike, you have to come back to the table and settle a contract,” Kich said. “I think that there are reasonable compromises available here.”

Representatives from both the union and administration have said that talk of a strike is premature at this point.

“Even talking about a strike is not helpful to the university,” Kich said. “We would like to sit down and work out something that we think is fair to faculty and that is not doing serious damage to the long-term earnings of our members or serious damage to the academic mission of the institution.”

“It is indeed still premature to talk of strike especially with the parties considering a fair and equitable compromise from a mutually chosen, independent arbitrator with three decades of experience,” said Wright State spokesman Seth Bauguess.

“No matter what happens, Wright State University has a duty to its students to plan for all potential outcomes and continue operating for its students. Our students’ success and their progress toward their goals, including their graduation, is now and will always be our highest priority,” Bauguess said.