January 14, 2019
Dear Dr. Schrader,
We are writing to express our support for the faculty of Wright State University and the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors in their demand for the WSU administration to bargain in good faith for a fair contract.
We understand that WSU faculty do not want to strike. They value their students and want to ensure that students complete their degree requirements and graduate in a timely manner. However, we also understand that faculty cannot be expected to provide high-quality learning experiences under unfair working conditions and without fair compensation.
It has been disheartening to watch the negotiations at WSU proceed at an unacceptably slow pace over the past two years, then break down completely resulting in the present impasse and impending faculty strike. At every stage, the WSU administration has sought to shift responsibility for the financial burdens of the university onto faculty, despite the fact that the university’s financial problems overwhelmingly stem from administrative mismanagement. Shortly before the WSU-AAUP voted to strike, the WSU Board of Trustees voted to impose a “last best offer” contract that nullifies previous workload agreements; introduces arbitrary awarding of merit pay; lengthens service requirements for non-tenure eligible faculty to qualify for continuing appointments; removes the right of faculty to bargain over healthcare; enables the administration to impose furloughs in the form of “cost saving days” and retain sole decision-making power over summer teaching assignments; prevents faculty salaries from keeping up with rates of inflation; and introduces an early retirement program that lacks any safety measures to prevent the delay or elimination of new faculty appointments following an early retirement.
In light of the objectionable provisions contained in the contract that the WSU Board of Trustees seeks to impose on faculty, we believe the reasons for faculty rejection of this imposed contract and vote in favor of a strike are completely justified. We support our faculty colleagues and the WSU-AAUP in their decision to strike, and we urge the WSU administration to return to the bargaining table in good faith to negotiate a new contract that supports, rather than punishes, faculty. At Bowling Green State University, we have found that when administrators and faculty work together to identify shared interests and collaborate to find mutually agreeable solutions, the outcome improves faculty working conditions, streamlines administrative procedures, and facilitates better relations between the faculty and university administration as a whole.
However, this process cannot work if one side seeks to impose its will on the other, which is what we see the WSU administration attempting to do to faculty.
A university is truly only as strong as its faculty, and WSU cannot cultivate a strong faculty by curtailing their participation in decision-making about the terms and conditions of employment that impact their professional lives and livelihoods. We encourage the WSU administration to abandon the imposed contract approved by the Board of Trustees and instead work to re-start negotiations with faculty to find mutually beneficial solutions to the problems currently facing the university.
Best regards, The BGSU-FA
David Jackson, President
Stephen Demuth, Vice President
Amy Fry, Treasurer
Vera Lux, Membership
Joel O’Dorisio, Non-tenure Track Faculty Representative
Megan Rancier, Communications
Philip Stinson, Contract Administration and Grievance Officer