Wright State faculty rally for better contract

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Wright State faculty rally for better contract

Wright State University’s faculty union is rallying this morning for a better contract with the school’s administration.

Rudy Fichtenbaum, national president of American Association of University Professors, spoke to the organization’s WSU chapter this morning.

Fichtenbaum, who is a retired WSU professor, said that the administration believes the university’s financial troubles “gives them the upper hand and they intend to use it.”

The university is trying to recover from more than $30.8 million in budget cuts implemented in June.

In November, the union created a plan that would allow it to strike if a deal on a contract is not reached. Then in December news broke that the Wright State administration was developing a policy to furlough faculty if the university continued to struggle with its finances.

Wright State faculty are protesting today at a WSU budget forum on campus.

Contract negotiations are expected to move into fact-finding at the end of the month. Fichtenbaum said that later today he will recommend to the AAUP-WSU’s executive committee to initiate a strike process in case the administration or the union reject a fact finder’s report.

Fichtenbaum said the faculty need to show that they are willing to strike if the administration continues pushing its “draconian proposal.”

Rally participants marched to the Apollo Room in the student union where president Cheryl Schrader is hosting a community forum on the budget. Schrader is scheduled to lead a discussion about finances with board of trustees chairman Doug Fecher and chief business officer Walt Branson.

Earlier this week, the AAUP-WSU released details about ongoing negotiations and contract offers made by the administration to the union.

The administration has offered the union a three-year contract with no raises, reduced health benefits with higher premiums and new furlough proposal, according to the email. The reduction in benefits would amount to a 4 percent paycut and a furlough, which could last up to two weeks, could amount to a 5 percent paycut, according to the AAUP-WSU email.

The proposed contract would also give the administration more discretion in assigning workloads, parking fees, life and disability insurance and tuition and fee remission, among other things, according to the email. This news organization has contacted the WSU administration for comment.

Contract negotiations between Wright State and its faculty have been stalled since March when the school brought in an attorney to continue talks. The resignation of president David Hopkins and the school’s budget trouble also slowed negotiations, AAUP-WSU president Martin Kich has said.

The most recent three-year contract gave faculty around an annual 3 percent raise, Kich said.

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