Faculty union, administration reach agreement
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Last Friday, just before releasing the results of its strike-authorization vote, UA’s faculty union reached a tentative agreement with University administration over difficult contract negotiations that have lasted more than a year.
Both parties have solved all “issues pertaining to contract negotiations,” including recent disagreements about benefits and compensation, according to a UA news release.
“Neither side got all we wanted, but that’s the nature of negotiations,” said Constance Bouchard, distinguished history professor and faculty union member. “[The contract] gives faculty fair raises going forward for the next four years while maintaining a good level of benefits. A number of technical and governance issues were also resolved.”
John Zipp, president of the Akron chapter of the American Association of University Professors (Akron-AAUP), which is the representative body of the faculty union, declined to reveal the specifics of the tentative agreement. He said Akron-AAUP wants to discuss the details with its membership before releasing information to the public.
“At the table, the negotiators discussed a lot of issues and made good progress,” said Zipp. “I think the contract is a fair and reasonable one for both sides.”
Both the UA Board of Trustees and Akron-AAUP must ratify the tentative agreement.
While the Akron-AAUP will begin voting tomorrow, the Board of Trustees have not scheduled a vote yet.
Following an informational meeting this Wednesday, faculty union members will begin a week of online voting. Bouchard said the results will be available after spring break.
The Akron-AAUP executive committee also met with union liaisons on Monday to discuss the negotiated contract and conduct a preliminary vote. The liaisons are elected representatives in each academic department who communicate between the union executive committee and their colleagues within the union.
The liaisons approved the agreement — meaning the representatives approved sending the contract to the union members for voting.
UA spokesman Dan Minnich says the administration has no comment on its tentative agreement with the faculty union.
“We will be happy to comment following the faculty vote on the contract,” Minnich said
If either party rejects the negotiated agreement, negotiations will resume and a strike will become possible again; however, according to Zipp and Bouchard, the passage of the new agreement is extremely likely.
A strike-authorization vote, which the Akron-AAUP administered last week, concluded last Friday. Although the results were scheduled to be released yesterday, now – with formation of the tentative agreement – they will only be announced to union members, said Zipp.
“One of the reasons we were able to break through what looked like a jam in negotiations was the strike-authorization vote,” Bouchard said. “The results were overwhelmingly supportive of a strike if needed.”