Hello TT Faculty members,
I’d like to provide you with an update on the status of the negotiations for a successor to our 2015 contract. Since our last update, the parties have met three times: September 19th, September 26th, and October 10th. I regret to inform you that very little progress was made at any of those meetings and it is increasingly likely that we will end up in fact-finding as we did in the 2015 negotiations. The parties will meet again on October 24th.
Update on Salaries:
AAUP-KSU was extremely disappointed with the administration’s August 24th counter proposal on Article XII (Salary). There was no evidence that they had seriously considered any of the specific language changes that we had proposed—including changes that did not have any financial impact. They simply rejected every aspect of our proposal including mere housekeeping changes. The only change in their counter proposal relative to their original proposal of August 9th was an increase to the standard increment for roughly one third of the Faculty in AY 19/20. The financial impact of that change was the equivalent of just under 1/4 percent of continuing Faculty salary for that year.
On October 10th, AAUP-KSU made its counter proposal on Article XII (Salary). We followed the administration’s lead on this and made only a minor modification relative to our original proposal, the impact of which is a reduction of 1/4 percent of continuing Faculty salary in AY 19/20. Specifically, we proposed reducing the merit pool that would be available in AY 19/20 from the equivalent of 2.5% to 2.25% of continuing Faculty salary. We continue to propose standard increment (across the board) raises of 4% in AY 18/19 (retroactive to the start of the AY), 3% in AY 19/20, and 3.5% in AY 20/21. We also continue to propose increases in the salary minima (floors) for each Faculty rank and to the raises Faculty receive for promotion to Associate Professor and Full Professor.
AAUP-KSU has made clear to the administration that the salary tier scheme that they have proposed is a poison pill for the Faculty. It sends a clear message to Faculty members who have dedicated their careers to Kent State that we are not valued. AAUP-KSU has made clear to the administration that their salary proposal would guarantee that the majority of Faculty fall behind inflation and see wage decreases in real terms in the first and second year of the contract and that all Faculty would see real wage decreases over the life of the contract.
Despite all of their fear mongering, the University remains in a strong financial position as evidenced by the audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. While it is true that enrollment has dropped from what were record heights, the restated fiscal year 2018 budget reflected a six million dollar increase in enrollment related revenue connected to tuition and fees and to State subsidies relative to the original fiscal year 2018 budget.
Update on Medical Benefits:
On September 19th, the administration presented a counter-proposal on medical benefits that would retain the 90/70 plan for 2019, but raise the percentage of the premium contributed by the median salaried KSU employee from 17% to 20%. They continue to propose replacing the current 90/70 and 80/60 PPO plans with an 85/60 PPO plan with the median salaried KSU employee contributing 18.5% of the premium for the new plan effective January 1, 2020. Once again, the administration didn’t seriously consider any of the specific language changes that we had proposed on August 24th—including changes that did not have any financial impact.
On October 10th, AAUP-KSU presented its counter proposal on Article XIII (Medical Benefits). The changes relative to our original proposal were minor and did not impact the specific medical plans offered or the contribution rates for Faculty enrolled in those plans. AAUP-KSU has made clear to the administration that the Faculty have no interest in eliminating our 90/70 and 80/60 plans and replacing them with the 85/60 plan they propose. We have made clear that the Faculty have no interest in paying a higher percentage of the premium for our plans than we currently do and that we certainly have no interest in paying more for less coverage. The administration has provided no evidence that either the rate of healthcare cost increases or the financial outlook for the University requires such sacrifices on the part of the Faculty.
Given that Open Enrollment for Plan Year 2019 begins on October 15th, there will be no changes in the plans offered to Faculty for 2019. Faculty members in the salary tier that contains the median salary for KSU employees will continue to pay 17% of the premium for the 90/70 PPO plan and 15% of the premium for the 80/60 plan.
While we still hope to be able to secure a deal at the bargaining table, it is looking increasingly likely that the parties will reach impasse and ultimately end up in fact-finding. Should that occur, AAUP-KSU is optimistic that a neutral third party fact-finder will take interest in the data and evidence that AAUP-KSU has to present.
Deborah C. Smith
Chief Negotiator, AAUP-KSU Tenured & Tenure Track Unit