State rules that WSU faculty strike is legal

Wright State faculty members protest on campus. SOHAM PARIKH/STAFF

COLUMBUS – Ohio’s State Employee Relations Board (SERB) ruled in an emergency hearing today that the faculty strike at Wright State University is legal.

The board’s formal determination reads: “SERB finds that the strike is authorized,” according to information provided by AAUP-WSU.

Representatives from both university administration and the faculty union, also known as the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP-WSU), appeared before the board to present their cases.

University administration had previously requested that SERB determine whether the faculty strike was authorized under state law.

RELATED: WSU asks SERB to determine if AAUP-WSU strike unauthorized

“While SERB did not rule this strike unauthorized as we had asked, the union’s actions to prevent the university from operating are having a significant toll,” University President Cheryl Schrader said in a press release from the Office of Communications.

The university previously said that it presented evidence showing that AAUP-WSU’s reasons for striking are “prohibited by state law.” The university’s claims are as follows:

  • AAUP-WSU is striking “in significant part” over workload provisions and agreements. The university has previously claimed that workload is prohibited from being part of collective bargaining.
  • AAUP-WSU members “intentionally sabotaged” the university’s ability to find replacement instructors by misleading the university of their intention to strike.
  • AAUP-WSU “instructed its members to remove the syllabus and other course information from the Pilot instructional system to make it difficult for the university to offer courses during the strike without disruption.”

RELATED: WSU administration files ULP against AAUP-WSU

AAUP-WSU also responded to SERB’s decision in a press release, saying “The administration is finding that Wright State University cannot function without us. That does not make our strike unauthorized.”

The union has not released the case they presented to SERB today, but says they are still ready to negotiate.

“The university is in chaos without us. Our union is more unified and determined than ever. We are buoyed by the passionate support of students, extraordinary contributions of WSU staff, alumni, our brothers and sisters in organized labor and the rest of the community around us.”

Administration said that SERB did not rule on whether the union’s behavior was lawful but told the university that filing an Unfair Labor Practices charge is “the appropriate place to raise the concerns the university has about the union’s conduct.”

RELATED: Wright State faculty on strike until further notice

“While we appreciate that the university can pursue another ULP against the union, we are concerned this is a much slower process for a determination than an unauthorized strike given the urgency the university is facing,” Schrader said.

Administrators plan to meet with the union this evening, according to the press release.

“If an agreement is reached, the university will immediately implement this new contract. By focusing on a strike instead of reaching an agreement, the AAUP Executive Committee risks irreparable damage to the university and its students.”

AAUP-WSU President Martin Kich said that the union is ready to negotiate. “We’re hoping the strike will get administration back to the negotiating table so everyone can get back to the work they normally do.”

Kich said the strike will continue on Monday. “We will remain on strike until we have a negotiated agreement. So next week, we’ll be back on the picket line,” Kich said.