Wright State University’s faculty union, AAUP-WSU, is asking the public to contribute to a fundraising campaign to recover some wages lost during a 20-day faculty strike.
AAUP-WSU members started a campaign on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe with the goal of raising $500,000 for professors who did not receive wages while on strike. As of Sunday night, the campaign received $20,930.
Striking faculty lost about 7.2 percent of their annual salaries while on strike, according to the union’s GoFundMe page. Funds raised by the campaign will be “equally distributed” among all faculty members who went on strike, the page says.
The fundraiser will “keep our best educators in the classroom, rather than working extra jobs with less time to help their students,” the page says.
AAUP-WSU President Martin Kich said that the $500,000 fundraising goal is not intended to recoup all income lost during the strike.
“It’s not even going to come close,” Kich said.
The AAUP-WSU strike is the longest higher education strike in Ohio’s history, and one of the longest at a public university in U.S. history, according to Kich. About 300 union members remained on strike during all 20 days, Kich said.
The strike ended on Feb. 10 when AAUP-WSU and university administrators reached an agreement on contracts which will last through 2023.
Healthcare was one of the most contentious issues preventing the parties from reaching an agreement. Kich said that AAUP-WSU would not accept any contract language which sacrificed the union’s right to bargain over health care.
AAUP-WSU accepted a unified healthcare plan proposed by the university under the conditions that members’ current plans will stay in place through the end of 2020 and caps are placed on the amount of increases in premiums and out of pocket maximums over the course of the contract, according to Kich.
The agreement ensures the union’s right to negotiate over healthcare, Kich said. “We got pretty strong language that basically says that in the next go-around, all aspects of healthcare including the concept of a unified plan are open to negotiation.”
Under the agreement, union members will receive 2.5 percent raises and three percent increases in minimum salary scales for the academic year 2021-2022. They will receive 2.5 percent raises, one percent increases in merit pay and four percent increases in minimum salary scales for the academic year 2022-2023, according to AAUP-WSU’s website.
However, Kich said that the union is “paying for the raises several times over” through other concessions.
The number of furlough days for union members is limited to one per semester under the agreement. Workload agreements, merit pay system and layoff language are the same as in the union’s previous contract, AAUP-WSU’ website says.
Union members’ summer teaching rights remain the same from the previous contract, but their pay rate will be gradually reduced over the next four years.
Kich said that the union “didn’t really win anything” from the agreement, but successfully preserved terms its members considered important.
On Jan. 9, about two weeks before the strike began, AAUP-WSU stated on its Facebook page that members would not expect pay if they were to strike.
Although the union did not initially accept cash contributions from AAUP chapters and other faculty unions, circumstances have changed, Kich said. Kich cited the duration of the strike and inability to make up lost classroom time as reasons for starting the fundraiser.
“Our members are taking financial hits on the contract itself, and then you’re adding in about a (7.2) percent pay loss due to the three weeks we were out on strike,” Kich said. “Things change, and we are willing to take (contributions) to at least partially offset the loss that our members (took) during the strike.”
University spokesman Seth Bauguess did not comment on AAUP-WSU’s fundraiser, but said the university is “glad to have the full faculty back in the classroom, and the entire campus community moving forward in one direction.”
Kich echoed that thought, saying “everybody is glad to be back at work.”