February 4, 2019
President Cheryl Schrader
Wright State University
260 University Hall
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy.
Dayton, OH 45435
Dear President Schrader and Members of the Wright State University Board of Trustees:
I write on behalf of the Ohio State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which stands with the Wright State University chapter members of the AAUP in their struggle to defend their collective bargaining rights. We are inspired by the steadfastness of our colleagues, who are beginning the third week of their historic strike—now the longest higher education strike in Ohio history.
We strongly urge your administration and the Wright State Board of Trustees to return to negotiations immediately in good faith, rather than continuing to unilaterally impose contracts on faculty.
As AAUP-WSU has repeatedly said, while there are significant differences between the union and the administration on health care, faculty governance, and summer pay, the biggest issue AAUP-WSU is defending is the very right to collective bargaining, the right to negotiate.
A note posted by AAUP-WSU on Facebook on February 4 describes the actions taken by the administration and Board of Trustees that must end, in the best interests of the faculty and the students.
As Marty Kich (President of AAUP-WSU) explained, “We offered the WSU administration/Board $8 million in concessions; they turned down that offer and would not change a word of their proposal on Saturday evening. Then on Sunday, they voted [amongst Board members] to approve their own proposals, a stunt designed to convince people that we should then ask our members to vote on their proposals as well. But our chapter Constitution defines procedures for votes on contracts on which the two sides have reached ‘tentative agreement.’ Since we have not reached any agreement on the Board’s proposals, we do not intend to ask our members to vote on them.”
We urge you to stop trying to fight the right of the union to negotiate—and actually negotiate. Your refusal to negotiate has been an unfortunate feature of this conflict from the beginning, and is counter-productive.
In the first week of the strike, which began on January 22, your administration refused to negotiate at all.
You only came to the table after a January 27 hearing with the State Employees Relations Board (SERB) in Columbus, which many OSU faculty and AAUP members also attended, in which the state board unanimously rejected your administration’s attempt to have the strike declared “unauthorized.” The SERB rejected claims that the faculty were “sabotaging” classrooms, or that they were “lying” and operating in bad faith.
AAUP-WSU members have conducted their strike with directness, honesty, and dignity. They have garnered the support of many students, as demonstrated by the emergence of organizations like WSU Students for Faculty. We join our voices with the many AAUP chapters and unions across the state and from around the country who have stood by them.
In the teachers’ strikes that have exploded across this country over the last year, a slogan has emerged: “Teachers’ teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions.” Without a fairly negotiated contract that actually uplifts and supports faculty work and life, the education of students will suffer. This is simply unacceptable at a public institution, whose mission is, above all, to provide education for students with instructors and researchers at the top of their fields.
We stand with our colleagues in their struggle, which has been an inspiration to us all.
John David Blackburn, President AAUP-OSU