Financial mess caused by administration has held up faculty negotiations
Recently, the Wright State administration announced that it would be cutting 40 positions and reducing its budget by $10 million. This is just the latest news from a university that has faced troubling finances in recent years, much of which was brought about by reckless and controversial spending. The Dayton Daily News outlined some of these spending gaffes in a February article. It should be noted that faculty had nothing to do with these decisions; and yet, as our AAUP-WSU chapter negotiates its latest contract, the administration wants faculty to make major concessions to cover its bad spending habits.
The administration has asked faculty to give up the right to bargain over health benefits and simply accept whatever they give to other employees, making changes with short notice at any time, even in mid-year. Those changes are equivalent to a 4% cut in pay for bargaining unit faculty—and make Wright State’s health care the most expensive for employees among all of the public universities in Ohio.
Moreover, the administration has proposed language which will allow it to retrench (fire faculty with continuing appointments and with tenure) if the University receives an SB-6 score of 2.4 or less for two consecutive years. In 2016 the administration got WSU an SB-6 score of 2.2 and in 2017 a score of 0.8. On the day on which the CBA goes into effect, the administration would then be able to start layoffs of tenured faculty and faculty with continuing agreements—without even eliminating programs or departments.
The administration’s position is that the faculty’s Workload MOU’s, which are not part of our contract, are illegal and must be eliminated. They want to be able unilaterally to increase teaching loads for all faculty or selected faculty. Also, the administration has proposed to strike the language that gives BUFMs the right to teach in the summer, ahead of non-BUFMs. Currently, there is a rotation system.
The administration is proposing three years of flat salaries and has stated in all likelihood there will be no raises for six years: for this collective bargaining agreement and the next. They also want to do away with the merit raise formula, instead giving chairs and deans total discretion over the distribution of merit raises to anyone receiving an annual evaluation of adequate.
The administration wants to be allowed to “furlough” faculty. Since they admit that faculty will have to teach all of their classes and continue to engage in scholarly activity and service, their furlough proposal is really a cut in pay. A loss of 10 days’ pay would amount to an additional 5.1% cut in pay with no reduction in work.
The administration wants to make it harder for non-tenure eligible (NTE) faculty to obtain a continuing appointment and to make it take more time, nominally extending the length of service needed to get a continuing appointment from 6 to 9 years. But in reality, for nearly everyone it would take 12 years, because only Senior Lecturers and Clinical Assistant Professors would be eligible for a continuing appointment.
Lastly, the administration has put on the table an early retirement proposal that would allow for a phased retirement. The major concern is that with retrenchment the administration will be laying off faculty and then hiring back retirees to take the place of those who have been laid off.
Enough is enough. Wright State cannot cut its way to prosperity, especially by making cuts to the faculty that carry out the mission of the university. AAUP-WSU hopes that it will not have to strike, but may be forced to do so if the administration continues to push untenable proposals that threaten academic quality. We will continue to update you on this situation.
The Ohio Conference AAUP is seeking volunteers to serve as media liaisons.
Ideally, we would like to identify at least one person to cover each of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Each media liaison will monitor the news coverage of higher education in his or her county and will make comments on and/or submit op-eds and distribute news releases as appropriate.
We are establishing a Dropbox account to which PDF copies of published articles on higher ed topics and issues, as well as copies of OCAAUP- and liaison-authored op-eds and news releases, can be shared and stored. This Dropbox account will allow for both some continuity in our messaging and some individualized content, while reducing duplication of effort.
The establishment of this network of media liaisons will expand on OCAAUP’s efforts to enhance our communications with our members and more broadly. Those efforts took a big step forward with the establishment of a Communications Committee during the Senate Bill 5 fight and have subsequently been extended with our regular newsletters to members, our regular testimony before legislative committees, and our timely submissions of op-eds to major newspapers.
Since two further efforts to “Yeshiva” Ohio faculty at public colleges and universities have subsequently been introduced into bills in committee (actions that we have been able to beat back), we think that it is likely that such attacks on our collective bargaining rights—and on academic freedom, shared governance, and tenure—are likely to continue. It seems prudent to enhance our ability to respond to those challenges in the broadest ways possible by taking advantage of the fact that we have members in most of Ohio’s 88 counties.
If you wish to serve as a media liaison, please contact Marty Kich firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President, OCAAUP
From July 19-22, the AAUP Summer Institute will take place at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. The Summer Institute is a great event that brings together AAUP members from across the country to participate in a wide range of workshops and special programs. To view the complete program and for other information, click here.
If you are interested in sponsorship to this event, first get in touch with your chapter leadership to see if funding is available. The Ohio Conference also will be providing “scholarships” to members from chapters with fewer resources. For more information about scholarships from the Conference, e-mail email@example.com.