Picketers stand outside an entrance to the Dayton campus of Wright State University on Colonel Glenn Highway. The AAUP-WSU was on strike for 20 days this year.

WSU faculty union starts GoFundMe page to recoup wages lost during strike

Members of the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors have launched a page on the website GoFundMe to raise money to pay faculty for their 20 days on strike. The page has a goal of getting $500,000 in donations and so far had more than $17,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

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The “hundreds” of AAUP-WSU members who went on strike lost around 7.2 percent of their annual salaries, according to the fundraising page. Funds raised will be “equally distributed” among all faculty who went on strike, the web page states.

The fundraiser will allow professors to focus more on teaching, “rather than working extra jobs with less time to help their students,” the web page states.

“The point of the fundraising is not to make up all of the money people lost because that’s impossible, we’ll never do that,” said Martin Kich, AAUP-WSU president. “But it’s to make up some of the loss.”

The 20-day AAUP-WSU strike is thought to be the longest college faculty strike in Ohio’s history and the union has referred to it as one the longest ever in the U.S.

The AAUP-WSU strike ended on Feb. 10 with two contracts that will go through 2023.

Health care was the main sticking point in contract talks with union leaders saying they would be sacrificing their right to bargain over health benefits if they had agreed to the terms originally imposed by the board of trustees Jan. 4. The tentative agreement makes it clear that health care will be included in future contract negotiations, Kich said.

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AAUP-WSU members will also receive up to a 2.5 percent raise in 2022 and a 2.5 percent raise in 2023. But, the raises will not necessarily make up for financial concessions accepted by the union in health care and other areas, Kich has said.

Under the deal, faculty union members can be furloughed for one day per semester and workload and layoff language will remain the same. Summer teaching pay for union faculty will be reduced by 15 percent to 20 percent over the course of the two contracts.

Ongoing financial issues at Wright State were the main source of tension in the talks. Wright State reduced spending by nearly $53 million in fiscal year 2018 in an attempt to begin correcting years of overspending.

WSU leaders expect the strike will cost the university, though they have been unable to provide an estimate at this point. Wright State spokesman Seth Bauguess didn't directly comment on the AAUP-WSU's fundraising but said the university is "glad to have the full faculty back in the classroom, and the entire campus community moving forward in one direction."

The agreements to end the strike could eventually save the university somewhere between $3 million and $4 million per year, Schrader has said. Moody’s Investors Service also cited the deal as being flexible enough to allow the university improve its finances and avoid near-term operational issues.

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