I wish that we could say that we made progress and negotiated over any contract articles during Friday’s mediation session in Columbus. I wish that we could say our time was productively spent. Unfortunately, none of that happened.
Two facts emerged during Friday’s mediation.
First, the administration/Board is still not willing to negotiate a new CBA. Its negotiating team presented neither proposals of its own nor counters to proposals that we had made. Thus, nearly six months have gone by since it has engaged in any legitimate negotiations.
Second, the administration/board has proposed yet another meeting where instead of negotiating with us, they will present us with a “global discussion” of how the current CBA prevents them from addressing the fiscal crisis of the University. From what little they have been willing to say about what that language actually means, we have concluded that, in essence, they want to “restart” the negotiating process so that they can “cherry-pick” language that they would like to see changed. Since all of the non-economic articles were already on the table before the administration/Board hired an outside labor attorney as their new chief negotiator, such a “restart” would amount to regressive bargaining, or an unfair labor practice.
As if to confirm the conclusions that we drew at our mediation session, at the Board of Trustees Committee meetings on Friday, Board members said that they would like more flexibility in making contingency plans for retrenchment.
We want to emphasize, again, that maintaining job security for all of our members is one of our top priorities, and we suspect that what they will propose will affect both TET and NTE BUFMs.
We have told the administration/Board that we will listen to their “global discussion” before our next mediation session, but only if that presentation is attended by both WSU President Cheryl Schrader and Board of Trustees Chair Doug Fecher.
We also informed them that our attendance at the next mediation session on October 20 will be conditional on their giving us proposals in writing 48 hours in advance–in accordance with the ground rules that both sides signed before beginning the negotiations–so that we can see that they are truly ready to negotiate.
We have made it clear that our team has very little trust in the administration’s new chief negotiator because we feel he has lied to us on several occasions about what he has been prepared to do. We are not even sure that he has actually been given the power to negotiate with us.
We cannot be expected to negotiate a contract in good faith without some degree of trust that the administration is reciprocating. We will reject any loss of real compensation or erosion of job protections for TET or NTE faculty. Job security is a top priority. Faculty didn’t create this financial crisis, and eliminating faculty positions isn’t the way to solve it. We are ready to go to fact-finding and beyond to protect the faculty.
Chief Negotiator, AAUP-WSU