Faculty hope to avoid strike

“An Akron-American Association of University Professors Nov. 20 statement said they had successfully negotiated several issues in their contract with the University of Akron administration. With the possibility of a work stoppage announced, the Akron-AAUP has been negotiating a new contract with the administration almost every day for the past several weeks.”

An Akron-American Association of University Professors Nov. 20 statement said they had successfully negotiated several issues in their contract with the University of Akron administration.

With the possibility of a work stoppage announced, the Akron-AAUP has been negotiating a new contract with the administration almost every day for the past several weeks.

The contract expires Dec. 15 and the sides currently remain in mediation with Rob Stein, who Hixson described as highly experienced.

They weren’t going well at all until the week before Thanksgiving, history professor Walter Hixson said of the negotiations, describing them as complex and intense.

We made some significant progress at that time. It will be challenging but certainly not impossible to get this resolved by the time the contract expires.

Hixson, also president of the Akron-AAUP, announced on Nov. 16 the possibility of a strike in a letter to his colleagues.

Unless the university begins to negotiate in good faith toward the conclusion of a second contract… we may well face a stalemate and the possibility of a work stoppage, he said in the letter.

Hixson said that a strike isn’t very likely, but if it does take place it will be at the beginning of next semester.

The last thing the faculty wants to do is disrupt the campus and student life over this labor issue, he said.

He said the administration was attempting to undo advances made in the union’s first contract and proposed that they be given ultimate control over issues such as health care and wages.

Stein will also serve as the fact-finder. At the end of mediation, the administration and the Akron-AAUP must come to separate conclusions and Stein will set the terms of the contract based on the needs of both sides.

We would then face the decision of accepting the offer or going on strike in an effort to achieve better terms, he wrote.

We have worked cooperatively with the university to resolve several articles. However, there are critical remaining articles that are yet to be resolved, Hixson explained.

These agreements mark significant progress toward a new contract, he said.

Hixson said the administration helped create a constructive environment, but that other critical issues still need to be resolved. He said that the administration and the Akron-AAUP remain wide apart on issues such as compensation and health care.

The Akron-AAUP communications committee recently released a statement saying that instead of a landscape for learning, UA has provided a landscape for earning for administrators.

It said the Akron-AAUP is attempting to negotiate for minimum per rank salaries for faculty members.

The statement then described it sobering to realize the amount of revenue needed to meet this request could be almost met by the combination of the amount being paid to departed chief financial officer John Case and football coach J.D. Brookhart, who was fired with one year left on his contract.

While the university insists that it just doesn’t have the money to offer faculty or staff competitive salaries, data analysis shows that money is always readily available for administrative salaries, the statement said.

According to the statement, salaries for the president, provost, deans and other administrators have risen from a total of $3.3 million in fiscal year 2005 to $5.6 million in the current fiscal year.

Before the faculty accepts the argument that UA is too poor to pay competitive salaries and before students accept that their tuition needs to continue to rise, the UA administration needs to explain why their own ranks and compensation have risen at such an extraordinary pace, it said.

The statement suggested that it is time for UA administration to turn its attention back to the academic side of the university.

Hixson explained that the administration and Akron-AAUP has a full schedule of meetings and mediation planned throughout the next couple of weeks and hope to continue their progress.

While today’s session marked meaningful progress, critical issues remain to be resolved. There is no cause for premature celebration.

He explained that although there is much that still needs to be done, he wanted faculty members to be aware that there has been some progress and stated that the administration has negotiated in good faith toward a resolution. ?