Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Monday, 18 March 2013 09:23
After months of mounting friction, it appears Bowling Green State University and its faculty union may have moved closer to a first contract.
The administration and faculty union announced this morning that they have reached an agreement in principle on the union contract.
Details are being finalized and must be ratified by the union’s membership and approved by the BGSU Board of Trustees.
Meanwhile, the administration’s controversial proposal to cut faculty is moving forward.
Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said this morning that the administration’s effort to terminate 100 faculty members is going ahead as planned. The administration has the right to make such cuts, though the effects of the cuts must be negotiated, he said.
“We are still finalizing the details of the effects bargaining,” Kielmeyer said.
But both sides praised the first contract proposal that must now be approved by faculty members and the BGSU Board of Trustees.
“We’re pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial agreement with the Faculty Association,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “This will allow us to move forward in concert with the faculty to achieve our goals as an institution.”
“This is a fair first contract for our members and for the university. Significant compromises were agreed to by both parties. We look forward to implementing the contract and continuing to work for the good of BGSU,” said Faculty Association President David J. Jackson.
The Faculty Association is expected to take the agreement to its membership in early April.
The BGSU Board of Trustees will likely hold a special meeting to vote on the agreement. The next regularly scheduled board meeting is May 3.
According to information released by the Faculty Association this morning, the proposed contract came after more than 20 hours of intensive bargaining this past weekend, and more than two years of negotiations.
At the direction of the BGSU-FA attorney, neither the proposed contract, nor even its central principles, can be released until all the details are verified.
The contract covers retroactive raises, current raises, increased job security for non-tenure track faculty, governance, promotion and tenure, a grievance policy with independent arbitration, academic freedom, intellectual property, retrenchment, and a spousal/partner hire policy.
The union hopes to be able to release a summary of the proposed contract to BGSU-FA members on Friday, and the entire text of the proposed contract on March 29.
“This schedule is still subject to change, as the compiling and vetting of a contract, especially a first one, by both sides is a painstaking process,” the union said in a statement. “The BGSU-FA and the administration are working both quickly and diligently to complete this time-consuming task.”
The tentative agreement comes after months of friction between the administration and faculty union.
The faculty voted by 57 percent to unionize in October of 2010.
After working for two years without a contract, the Bowling Green State University Faculty Association filed an unfair labor practice charge last November against the BGSU Board of Trustees and the university administration.
The union accused the administration of violating state law by unreasonably delaying and refusing to give the Faculty Association basic information, including information about benefit plans.
The administration announced earlier this year that 100 faculty members would be cut prior to classes starting this fall. While the majority are expected to be lost through retirement and attrition, an unidentified number will be faculty whose one-year contracts won’t be renewed.
In response to the proposed cuts, the BGSU Faculty Senate passed a resolution asking the administration to reconsider the cuts. The day after that meeting, a protest march was held on campus with an estimated 200 faculty, students and alumni participating. The protesters delivered a petition with more than 5,000 signatures to Mazey asking that the faculty cuts not be made.
Then in February, the administration and the faculty union filed unfair labor practice complaints against each other, over the administration’s request that the Faculty Association turn over names of union members.
Jackson said the faculty union would not turn over names to the administration.
“We absolutely will not ever reveal the names of our members, especially now in the context of job cuts,” Jackson said. “We don’t want the appearance of retaliation to exist.”
Since the union refused to turn over its membership, the administration filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Ohio State Employment Relations Board against with Faculty Association. In response, the union then filed its own unfair labor practice complaint with SERB.