AAUP, OU flirting with a strike as contract negotiations continue

By Postie Editors

On Sept. 4, Oakland University should be alive with the sounds of the first day of school, students rushing to the first day of class, battling over parking spots and faculty handing out class syllabi. Sept. 4 should not be a day full of picket lines and questions about when school will begin.

The current agreement between the American Association of University Professors and OU is up for renewal, as it is every three years. The last time the contract needed renewal in 2009, there was a 9-day faculty strike. We are terrified we are headed down the same path.

Contract negotiations between the two sides were moving along well before Aug. 2, when OU brought forward their economic package. Within the package, the university proposed a zero percent across the board raise for the next three years, a switch to a performance-based health care plan and cuts in faculty benefits.

Though they have been negotiating since June, a decision has yet to be made and we’re fearing the worst as both parties are currently divided on crucial issues.

The current propositions Oakland’s negotiators have on the table are sabotaging the school’s efforts to expand the university into a nationally recognized institution —a goal they’re striving to achieve.

Currently, Oakland has notable benefits which are more admirable than the salary. That’s why faculty come here.

If Oakland chooses to eliminate key faculty benefits, they are also choosing to eliminate the ability to attract higher quality professors.

Since OU is in the lowest 17th percentile in the nation in terms of salary, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the university should be catering to the professors, not working against them.

If the proposed cuts in benefits are passed, it is going to hinder the university’s ability attract and retain not only quality faculty, but students as well.

At any university, the faculty are what make the school what it is. As much as the students are the reason for an institution to exist, the faculty and accreditation of their research and programs are why students pick one university over another.

Especially when student enrollment is at an all time high (last year saw the largest enrollment in OU’s history), Oakland really needs to consider all of its options, and not risk alienating the incoming freshman class with a strike.

As Sept. 4 draws near, we hope that it will be filled with the joys of the first day of school, not the abomination of yet another faculty strike, but that’s looking less and less likely.

Until then, we will be here, covering the story and anxiously awaiting word that an agreement has finally been made.

We’re looking forward to the start of the semester. Hopefully it will start on time.

The staff editorial is written weekly by members of the Oakland Post editorial board.