UPDATED: Board offers final contract, faculty union responds with concessions

UPDATED: Board offers final contract, faculty union responds with concessions

After two weeks of a faculty strike at Wright State, university administrators have proposed new contract terms to faculty members represented by WSU’s faculty union (AAUP-WSU).

The offer follows several sessions of negotiations between faculty and administration over the past weeks.

“Trustees listened to AAUP executive team members at recent meetings, examined every area of concern as stated by union leadership and moderated the university’s position where possible,” the university said in a press release.

The offer would maintain previous contract terms regarding retrenchment, workload, and merit pay. Furlough days would be limited to one per semester. The language also allows bargaining faculty members to receive pay raises and promotional increases for the remaining two years of the proposed contract.

Professors would be allowed summer teaching rotations but receive less pay for them to meet the university’s cost savings needs. A merit pay pool will be offered in the last year of the contract. Minimum salaries would be increased in correspondence to the pay increase pool in the last two years of the contract.

The length of time for non-tenure eligible faculty members to receive a promotion would be seven years with no requirements for an advanced title. This applies to faculty hired after the terms are agreed upon.

A new retirement incentive plan would also be included in the contract.

The concessions are contingent on AAUP-WSU members accepting Wright State’s uniform health care plan, along with all other university employees.

“The trustees are unanimous of their support of the university moving forward with the existing university health plan,” the university said.

Health care is one of the major issues preventing the two parties from reaching a negotiated settlement, AAUP-WSU representatives have previously said.

Under Wright State’s uniform health care plan, administrators reserve the right to change health care at any time, with 60-days’ notice, the terms and conditions say.

The uniform health care plan will be provided with a “‘guardrail’ to ensure fair treatment,” the university previously said.

“The change has to be consistent with similarly-situated employees. After transitioning (AAUP-WSU) members into the university-wide plan, we do not anticipate changing the plan outside of our annual ‘open enrollment’ that occurs once a year.”

Administrators say that the university’s offer would keep health care competitive among other Ohio public universities.

“This plan provides high-quality health care benefits. It is the current plan for everyone at the university, including non-union faculty and all other union employees,” the university said.

On Saturday evening, AAUP-WSU announced that the board turned down $8 million in concessions made by the faculty union during recent negotiations.

AAUP-WSU representatives say they offered to compromise on a health plan under the condition that they keep their right to bargain over premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums.

AAUP-WSU also said that administration’s proposal would have meant pay cuts for summer teaching and furloughs as well as increased healthcare costs.

“All of these contract components play a role if Wright State is to continue to attract top-notch faculty in the future,” AAUP-WSU President Martin Kich stated in the release.

AAUP-WSU says that while they are “disappointed to stay away from the classroom,” they plan to return to the picket lines on Monday.