Hello TT Faculty members,
The parties engaged in three mediated bargaining sessions assisted by Federal Mediator Brittney Howard on November 28, December 11, and December 17, 2018. Despite the best efforts of Ms. Howard, these sessions did not produce any meaningful movement on the part of the administration. On December 20, AAUP-KSU formally exercised its contractual right (per Article XXIV, Section 3.A) to request fact-finding on the outstanding issues. An additional mediated session is scheduled for January 23, 2019.
Outstanding issues on Salary (Article XII):
The administration continues to insist on the three-tiered approach to standard increment (across the board) raises, despite the fact that AAUP-KSU has repeatedly made clear that the salary tier scheme is a poison pill for the Faculty. Not only is the administration refusing to contemplate a salary package that would allow Faculty salaries to keep up with inflation, at no point has the administration proposed even the equivalent of 2% across the board in any of the three years of the contract. Their last formal proposal for a total salary package (1.94% in the first year, 1.83% in the second year, 1.43%, in the third year, and 0% for merit increases) would be the weakest salary package contained in any contract since (and including) 1985! This doesn’t even take into account the costs of the radical health care give backs proposed by the administration (see below).
The administration has also refused to make any standard increment raises for AY 18/19 retroactive to the beginning of the academic year. To be sure the CBA (Article XXIV, Section 3.G) makes clear that, if no agreement is reached by August 1, 2018, “there is no guarantee that any eventual agreement on salary and benefits levels will be retroactive.” However, over the summer months the administration had difficulty ensuring that a quorum of its team would be available and the parties were only able to meet on four occasions prior to August 1, 2018. By contrast, during the previous negotiations the parties had met 11 times prior to August 1, 2015. Additionally, the administration did not even make initial proposals for Articles XII (Salary) and XIII (Medical Benefits) until August 9th and did not make an initial proposal for Article XIV (Other Benefits) until August 24th. In the circumstances, it was impossible for the parties to have reached an agreement prior to August 1st. AAUP-KSU believes that it is thus unreasonable for the administration to refuse to make retroactive any salary provisions ultimately agreed upon for AY 18/19.
Outstanding issues on Medical Benefits (Article XIII):
The administration has refused to move away from its insistence that the 90/70 and 80/60 PPO plans be eliminated and replaced with the 85/60 PPO plan in the form imposed on non-unionized employees in 2018. The out of pocket maximums for the 85/60 PPO plan proposed by the administration are 100% higher than those on the 90/70 PPO plan and 67% higher than those on the 80/60 PPO plan. Additionally, the administration is insisting on a substantial increase in the percentage of the premium to be paid by Faculty. For 2019, the median salaried TT Faculty member contributes 21.16% of the premium for the 90/70 PPO plan and 19.15% of the premium for the 80/60 PPO plan. Currently, non-unionized employees with salaries equivalent to the median salaried TT Faculty member contribute 22.66% of the premium for the 85/60 PPO plan.
The median salaried Faculty at Kent State already pays a higher percentage of the insurance premium for our current 90/70 plan than faculty at any other Ohio public institution with collective bargaining. When the deductible, annual out of pocket maximum, and employee share of premium are factored in, the increase in the cost of the 85/60 plan relative to both the 90/70 and 80/60 plans is the equivalent of more than 1% of the median TT Faculty salary for single coverage and more than 2% of the median TT Faculty salary for family coverage. This does not take into account the additional costs that Faculty currently enrolled in the 90/70 plan would face given the shift to only 85% in network coverage. (Over 80% of Faculty are enrolled in the 90/70 plan.)
Not only would the administration’s proposal for medical benefits require the majority of Faculty to pay more for less coverage, AAUP-KSU believes that its right to collectively bargain healthcare benefits is threatened by the stance that the administration has taken in insisting that members of our collective bargaining unit accept the medical benefits imposed on non-unionized employees.
Next steps in the process:
On December 20, 2018, the parties contacted the State Employee Relations Board (SERB) to request a list of five potential fact-finders. After the list is received from SERB, the parties will engage in a mutually agreed upon process to select a fact-finder from the list. Once a fact-finder is selected, a hearing will be scheduled. Prior to the hearing, the parties will each submit a position statement to the fact-finder. At the hearing, each side will present evidence supporting its position. The fact-finder will consider the evidence presented and issue a report outlining his/her non-binding proposal for a fair settlement on the outstanding issues. AAUP-KSU will then conduct a vote of our dues paying membership on whether or not to accept the fact-finder’s report. At the same time, the Board of Trustees will vote on the fact-finder’s report. If both parties accept the fact-finder’s report, it (along with the previously agreed upon provisions) becomes the basis of the new contract. If either party rejects the fact-finder’s report, the administration has the right to simply impose its “last, best, final offer.” If that happens, AAUP-KSU has only two options: simply accept the administration’s imposed contract or call a strike. (See Frequently Asked Questions about Strike Authorization and What Happens During a Strike?)
Deborah C. Smith
Chief Negotiator, AAUP-KSU Tenured & Tenure Track Unit