Another attack on sick leave and collective bargaining
House bill 298, introduced by Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Twp.) would reduce sick days for those state employees who currently have 15 days down to 10 days. This includes college and university employees. The bill also would prohibit employers from offering greater than 10 sick days, or agreeing to more in a collective bargaining agreement. So not only is this an attack on benefits, it is an attack on collective bargaining rights.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
That’s because nearly identical language was not only part of Senate Bill 5 in 2011, but also was inserted into HB 49 (the state budget bill) by Rep. Merrin earlier this year. Fortunately, we were able to get that language removed, but Rep. Merrin is intent on reducing what he calls “an excessive number of sick days.”
There are two things you can do right now to help stop this bill:
As we explained to legislators during the budget process, professors do not receive the same benefit leave time as other state employees, like personal and vacation days. As such, sick days are the only leave time that faculty can rely on in the event of a serious illness. During the budget, we heard from members who expressed how important that leave time was for them when they confronted serious illness.
While the extreme legislators behind this bill will tell you that it is about limiting sick days for public employees, we know the truth. This is just the first step in trying to silence our voice at the workplace. Today they try to limit how we collectively bargain for sick days; tomorrow it will be about limiting how we collectively bargain over pay, workload, as well as how we grieve unfair conditions. This is their attempt to pass Senate Bill 5 in piecemeal fashion, and we must fight back against ANY attempts to limit our voice on the job.
Please take a few minutes to call and e-mail your representative. Your activism does make a difference.
Join us in Columbus November 3-4
The 67th Ohio Conference AAUP Annual Meeting will be held at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel on November 3-4, 2017.
The deadline to reserve a hotel room in our block for that Friday night at the significantly discounted rate of $125 is Tuesday, October 3.
The final registration deadline, however, isn’t until October 27.
David Ridpath (pictured), NCAA expert and professor of sports administration at Ohio University, will deliver the keynote luncheon address on Saturday: “Shaping Policy and Practice in Intercollegiate Athletics: A Study of Student Fee Resource Allocation for Athletics and its Effect on Access and Affordability of Higher Education.”
In addition, Samantha Parsons from “UnKoch My Campus” will give a workshop that Saturday afternoon: “Pushing Back on the Power of Private Donors: Strategies for Building Your Chapter & Protecting the Academy.”
Moreover, members who are able to attend the Friday reception and dinner will have the opportunity to meet State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), who is running for Ohio Secretary of State.
The preliminary agenda is available here.
We hope you’ll join us in Columbus for an informative event. It is a great opportunity to network with faculty from around the state. Registration costs just $25. Click here to register.
Ohio universities in massive debt due to construction
The next piece we will highlight from our latest Ohio Higher Education Report: Education First is university debt.
As you can see in the chart above, each Ohio university is carrying substantial debt, primarily on account of new building construction. Far beyond modernizing classrooms with today’s technology and building out of necessity, institutions have been on a spending spree, more than doubling total debt over 10 years.
Institutions finance building projects in several ways: capital funding from the state, donations, and borrowing. As of early 2016, Ohio’s universities found themselves inching toward $7 billion worth of debt.
Students end up footing the bill for these costly ventures. For example, according to a Columbus Dispatch editorial, “Even a small fee tacked onto student loans can snowball. The $110 per-semester student fee Miami University charges to finance its $53 million Armstrong Student Center…looks manageable enough. But added to a student loan, at 4.5 percent interest over 10 years, this increases the amount to be repaid by $1,100.”
Institutions are taking a gamble in financing construction on the backs of students. They are building in the name of attracting students, yet risk alienating them with high fees. Colleges and universities must be more restrained when it comes to additional projects, and we have recommended that the state should consider capping the amount that institutions can borrow, as other states have done.
Read more about this issue in our report.