The current collective bargaining agreement between the American Association of University Professors and Oakland University is set to expire Aug. 14 and the two sides seem to be at an impasse.
“The two sides are miles apart on both non-economic and economic issues,” AAUP Chief Negotiator Michael Latcha said.
On Aug. 2, Oakland University submitted their initial economic package to the AAUP. The package included, but was not limited to, cutting teacher’s summer pay by 25 percent, eliminating all across-the-board pay raises and a “drastic” cut in health insurance coverage.
“We found it (the proposal) quite shocking,” said AAUP President Karen Miller. “Despite the strong financial position of the university, they offered us a zero across-the-board salary increase for all three years (the agreement would govern).”
According to Miller, instead of offering across-the-board raises, the proposal would instead offer salary increases to teachers based on merit. Under the proposal, the university would use their discretion when deciding who qualified for merit-based salary increases.
The administration did indicate to the AAUP (although not in writing), the amount of merit money to be distributed among teachers would be roughly equivalent to the amount given up in benefit cuts, like those previously listed.
According to the AAUP’s website, the university, in addition to their economic package, has proposed instituting post-tenure review, eliminating department chairs from the bargaining unit and hiring an “unlimited number of research and full-time adjunct faculty.”
“The comprehensiveness of the package(s) was shocking, as was the fact that some of the issues they suggested would undo 30 years of collective bargaining agreements,” Miller said.
In order to help the negotiations move forward, the two sides will be bringing in a state mediator.
“We have contacted the state mediator assigned to Oakland and are trying to meet with her as soon as possible. At the moment it isn’t clear when that will be (but) most likely (it will be) later in this week,” Latcha said.
The last time contract negotiations between the AAUP and the university took place in 2009, the two sides failed to reach an agreement before fall semester classes were set to begin. The work stoppage delayed the start of the fall semester by nine days.
According to Ted Montgomery, director of media relations, it is against university policy to comment on ongoing negotiations.
Read OU’s bargaining diaries here.
Contact via Local Editor Christopher Lauritsen via email or follow him on Twitter @ChrisLaurtsen