Wright State University’s faculty union has voted overwhelmingly to reject a fact-finder’s report on contract negotiations.
The Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors voted 467-12 to reject the report that was released Oct. 29. The union’s rejection comes a week after the Wright State board of trustees voted unanimously to accept the fact-finder’s report, which union president Martin Kich has said was supposed to be sort of a compromise contract proposal.
“Our membership is clearly united in their determination to protect education for present and future Wright State students,” Kich said in a prepared statement. “Our position has always been that solving WSU’s short term financial crisis should not inflict permanent damage on the University’s academic mission.”
The report — which brings to a head more than a year of contract negotiations — called for faculty to get no raises, could require union members to pay more for health care, recommends the use of furloughs and rejects the idea of downsizing or eliminating Wright State’s athletics department, among other things.
With more than 60 percent of the union’s 564 membership turning down the fact-finder’s proposal, the union could initiate a strike if a deal is not reached.
Wright State President Cheryl Schrader said in an email to campus that the administration, including the trustees, plan to meet with union leadership to discuss next steps.
“Wright State has excellent faculty members. The university wants to reach an agreement that honors their dedication and is financially sustainable for the university's long-term future,” she said.
The union said in a statement that “AAUP-WSU has committed not to initiate a strike unless the school’s president and the board try to impose a contract that would damage education at Wright State.”
Wright State is in the midst of a budget crisis, which Schrader has said was one of the driving forces behind contract negotiations. This news organization has reached out to a university spokesman for comment.
WSU trustees slashed more than $30 million from the school’s fiscal year 2018 budget in June 2017 in an attempt to begin correcting years of overspending. Those cuts ended up not being enough, and by the close of FY 2018, Wright State had reduced spending by around $53 million.
In June, trustees approved a FY 2019 budget that predicted another $10 million decline in revenue.
“The trustees felt that approving this report was in the best interest of our students and the university and it will help Wright State move forward,” Schrader said in a statement last week. “I think both parties would have preferred we would have negotiated a longer settlement.”
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