Hello TT Faculty members:
As you are aware, AAUP-KSU sent out a communication on February 25th, 2019, inviting Faculty to participate in informational picketing during the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, March 6th in order “to voice their support of a fair contract for the Faculty at Kent State and to urge the administration to return to the table.” The communication went on to state that “[t]o date, AAUP-KSU has not received any communication from the administration regarding future meetings between the parties or any other response to AAUP-KSU’s proposals.”
In a Management Update posted February 28, 2019, the administration expressed “confusion” about the stated reason for this informational picketing on the grounds that: “the parties agreed at their last mediation session to schedule additional sessions as the fact-finding process moves forward. In the spirit of this commitment, in early February, the university initiated the scheduling of two additional mediation sessions — now set for March 11 and 13.”
It is true that two additional mediated bargaining sessions have now been scheduled for March 11th and 13th. However, the timeline is important:
• January 23, 2019: the parties hold a mediated bargaining session with Federal Mediator, Brittney Howard. At this meeting, AAUP-KSU makes the most recent proposals on Articles XII (Salary) and XIII (Medical Benefits) and notes that we have received no response to our proposal of September 19, 2018 on Article XIV (Other Benefits). AAUP-KSU agrees to additional mediated sessions if and when the administration has counter-proposals on these three articles.
• February 25, 2019 (9:52am): AAUP-KSU announces via email that it will be conducting informational picketing on March 6th and notes that AAUP-KSU has received no communication from the administration subsequent to the January 23rd mediated session (over a month earlier!) concerning future meetings.
• February 26, 2019 (10:17am): AAUP-KSU receives an email from Ms. Howard stating “At the request of the University, I’m sending my availability for mediation for the month of March.” Jack Witt, Chief Negotiator for the administration, is also a recipient of this email.
• February 26, 2019 (4:38pm) AAUP-KSU confirms its availability for March 11th and 13th.
• February 26, 2019 (5:09pm) Jack Witt confirms that the administration is also available on those dates.
• February 28, 2019: The administration posts its Management Update expressing “confusion” about AAUP-KSU’s stated reason for informational picketing.
AAUP-KSU is surprised to learn that the administration initiated the scheduling of additional mediated sessions in “early February,” given that the February 26th email from Ms. Howard was the first communication AAUP-KSU received on the matter. Ms. Howard has always responded in a timely fashion to the parties in the past and it would be uncharacteristic of her to fail to do so in this instance. Although other explanations are possible, the timeline above suggests that the administration may have been prompted by AAUP-KSU’s February 25th announcement concerning informational picketing to reach out to Ms. Howard and request additional mediated bargaining sessions.
Regardless of the reasons, we are pleased that the administration has been willing to return to the table and look forward to receiving their counter-proposals on Articles XII, XIII, and XIV.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the informational picketing beginning at 9:30am on Wednesday, March 6th!
Deborah C. Smith
Chief Negotiator, AAUP-KSU Tenured & Tenure Track Unit