After months of negotiation, the American Association of University Professors and Oakland University reached a tentative agreement on new faculty contracts at 3:30 a.m. Friday.
The agreement will provide across-the-board pay increases, merit pay adjustments and benefit restructuring. It will be effective until Aug. 2015. Details of the agreement are available on the AAUP website.
“We congratulate both of the bargaining teams for their hard work and diligence in making this possible in a professional and amicable manner,” an entry in OU’s bargaining diaries said. “We look forward to our continuing to work together in the future.”
The 2009 faculty contracts were extended six times since the original Aug. 15 deadline. The tentative agreement came after the two sides were able to bridge the gap left after the university’s Aug. 2 economic proposal.
“We were miles apart (on) Aug. 2,” said Karen Miller, AAUP president.
AAUP chief negotiator Michael Latcha said it is not uncommon for economic proposals to be a point of contention during negotiations.
“Bargaining over economics is often like this, since the discussions quickly become ‘I want that, you can’t have this,’” Latcha said. “The pressure of a deadline is often what gets the negotiating parties to move towards a middle ground. Fortunately, we had built a rapport with the administration team throughout the summer that gave both sides the confidence to make significant moves exactly when they were needed.”
Before the tentative agreement can be instituted, it first has to get passed by the university’s board of trustees, the AAUP’s executive committee and AAUP’s general membership.
The process of passing the agreement could drag on until the October board of trustees meeting, according to Miller.
Miller said the university’s board of trustees likes to wait until the AAUP has passed the agreement before voting on it.
The AAUP will send the agreement to their executive committee. If it passes, the executive committee will move it on to AAUP’s membership, who will cast an electric ballot either for or against the agreement.
“I have no concerns about the ratification of this tentative agreement,” Latcha said. “It addresses important concerns from both perspectives … it is very balanced.”
Both sides are happy the agreement was reached before the start of fall classes.
“I am delighted that we were able to come to an agreement several days before the start of classes, to be able to put the negotiations behind us and look forward to welcoming students back to campus and starting a new semester of learning,” Latcha said. “While labor negotiations are very important for number of reasons, it’s always better when Oakland’s labor and management can work together in order to serve our students first.”
According to Miller, the AAUP is relieved the semester will start on time and they will not be forced to go on strike.
“Words can not describe,” Miller said. “We don’t like standing out on picket lines and we don’t like worrying about the start of the semester.”
A statement made by Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Susan Awbrey expressed the university’s excitement over the new tentative agreement with the AAUP.
“We are extremely pleased to have reached this agreement with our faculty,” Awbrey said. “With a new academic year beginning next week, it’s an exciting time on our campus. Our students will benefit from the valuable academic programs we are committed to delivering, and from the teaching excellence our faculty provides.”
Miller said more details on the negotiations will become available in the coming days after both sides have had time to review the tentative agreement.