Teamsters file with state to begin strike against Wright State

FILE

Combined ShapeCaption
FILE

A mediation session this week between Wright State University and a university union ended without resolution — and the union filed Thursday with the State Employment Relations Board to begin striking the university Feb. 3, said Tom Bellew, chief steward for Teamsters Local 957.

Wright State said it has given the union “its last, best and final offer of a new contract.”

 

“It’s still in our opinion not good enough,” Bellew said Friday. “We have a health insurance plan that will save the university hundreds of thousands, and they’re not in interested in taking or even talking about that.”

The Teamsters-represented bargaining unit of maintenance workers, technicians and other employees voted last month to strike if necessary over a string of contractual disagreements.

“It is truly disappointing Teamsters’ leaders rejected a resolution that is reasonable and favorable to their membership,” Wright State President Sue Edwards said in a campus email. “Our Teamsters employees are part of the Wright State family. Their work is invaluable to university operations. I remain optimistic that the broad membership, many of whom I’ve come to know personally, understand where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed. They want Wright State to succeed.”

The university said its representatives participated in a “lengthy mediation session” this week with representatives of Local No. 957.

The meeting was facilitated by two state-appointed mediators. “Despite demonstrating a willingness to resolve the last few remaining items, the university was unable to reach complete agreement with the Teamsters,” Wright State said in its statement on the session. “As a result, today the university issued its last, best, and final offer of a new contract.”

The university said it and union leadership found common ground on “some of the issues” and attempted to resolve the remaining matters.

The university said offered “significant compromises, as reflected in the last, best, and final offer, including concessions above and beyond what was awarded in the fact-finder’s report that was previously rejected by union membership.”

“The university did not compromise its position on health care and maintains that all employees should fall under the same employee health care plan,” Wright State added. “Unfortunately, at the conclusion of the mediation, union leadership rejected the university’s offer.”

Wright State is maintaining that a strike will not interrupt university operations. “Contingency plans have been finalized, and the university will operate under normal hours and class schedule. Classes will not be impacted,” the university said in a campus email.

For his part, Bellew questioned whether the university can conduct background checks of contractors before a strike begins. He also said he hopes talks can begin anew before the strike.

If it happens, it will be the second strike against the university in a year. Wright State endured a three-week strike of faculty members early last year. The Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors’ strike against the university was thought to be the longest college faculty strike in Ohio history, having totaled 20 days by the time resolution was reached in mid-February 2019.

About the Author