Collective Bargaining Management Update - Dec. 4
This update is to provide information about three important developments in the current negotiations between the university and the full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members who are represented by AAUP-KSU.
1. Tentative Agreement Reached on Unfair Labor Practice Charge
The parties met Monday in Columbus, and, with the assistance of a mediator from the State Employment Relations Board (SERB), were successful in entering into a tentative agreement resolving the unfair labor practice charge filed by the university against the AAUP-KSU. The agreement focuses on a commitment to not directly involve external media in the bargaining process unless the parties jointly agree to release a statement. This reinforces a commitment under the mutually-agreed-upon Ground Rules for bargaining.
Yesterday's tentative agreement specifically focuses on our shared commitment not to directly involve external media outlets in the bargaining process unless we agree to jointly release a statement. We applaud the AAUP-KSU and the University representatives who worked with the SERB mediator to resolve this situation quickly and in a manner consistent with our shared commitments to the bargaining process.
2. Mediation Session With FMCS Yields Two Additional Tentative Agreements
On Nov. 28, the university, the AAUP-KSU bargaining teams and their legal representatives participated in an all-day mediation session. The session was led by a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). We are pleased to report that two additional Tentative Agreements were signed during that session (Article I – Definitions; Article XIV – Duration and Negotiation Procedure). This leaves only four unresolved Articles and we are optimistic that with the skill and expertise of the federal mediator and the creative thinking by the AAUP-KSU and university bargaining and leadership teams, the possibility of reaching agreement on the remaining issues is encouraging.
Additional mediation sessions are scheduled for Dec. 11 and 17. The university is evaluating costs for a variety of settlement scenarios in preparation for these upcoming sessions with a strategic emphasis on competitive, yet realistic wage increases and revisions to our healthcare plans. We view these upcoming mediation sessions as another opportunity, with the assistance of the federal mediator, to move closer to resolution with AAUP-KSU on all remaining issues.
3. Voting Open Through Dec. 10 on AAUP-KSU Strike Authorization
Today, AAUP-KSU opened a strike authorization vote. Voting is scheduled to conclude at midnight, Dec. 10. (Interestingly, the day before our next session with the federal mediator, Dec. 11.) AAUP-KSU has posted information about the strike authorization vote and what would happen during a strike on its website. An affirmative vote to authorize a strike does not mean the faculty WILL strike; it is a negotiating tactic used to pressure the university.
However, the university remains committed to continue working in good faith towards a negotiated agreement . In the interim, however, preliminary planning for a possible strike is the prudent course of action. During a strike, our top priority would be to assure that quality instruction to our students is not interrupted.
During a strike, AAUP-KSU faculty members would not receive pay, would be responsible for the full cost of their healthcare and would forfeit the university's contribution to their respective retirement plans, along with other lost employee benefits. The Division of Human Resources and our Payroll Department are preparing to handle these contingencies.
While the university remains committed to reaching a reasonable, negotiated agreement with AAUP-KSU, we strongly believe that an agreement is best accomplished without the uncertainty and stress that a strike would cause our students.
Keep in mind, the university has put forth a fair and appropriate proposal reflecting our current budget and enrollment realities. For example, 74 percent of KSU faculty would receive annual salary increases of 2 percent or more in 2019 and 2020, under the current proposal. We continue to believe that most faculty are unaware of the university's salary proposal given that AAUP-KSU has consistently translated our proposal to an across-the-board equivalent, which is misleading and intentionally minimizes the positive impact on faculty compensation. Despite these challenges, the university remains firmly committed to bargaining in good faith and we are optimistic that we can arrive at an agreement that serves the best interests of Kent State faculty.
Thank you for supporting our students through finals week, and celebrating with those who will graduate on Dec. 15. We will provide more updates as information becomes available.