AAUP faculty contracts extended through Monday

The 2009 faculty contracts have been extended for the second time, as the American Association of University Professors and Oakland University continue their bargaining negotiations.

Karen Miller, AAUP president, said both parties remain divided on various issues including health care, faculty pay and tuition waivers.  The 2009 contracts have been extended until Monday at midnight.

Though both parties are having a difficult time negotiating, Miller said a strike is not part of their agenda. She said the AAUP is interested in having a calm, normal beginning of the semester and is hoping to solve all problems before walking into the classroom on Sept. 5.

“I would like to think that if they (Oakland) haven’t come up to a solution to this problem that we have, they will continue to extend the contract until they do,” she said. “We’re trying really hard to compromise to understand their positions and accommodate to them when possible, but we believe some of the departures suggested by the university are ones that are not only terrible in interest of the faculty, but in terms of long-term health of the institution as well, and are not the direction we want to go.”

Oakland could not be reached for comment.

Another key issue both parties are split on is the amount of adjunct faculty members employed at the university.

While there is currently a limit on the number of adjunct faculty members at the school, the university would like to make the number unlimited.

Adjunct faculty members are not tenured professors and do not have protections of job security, meaning they can be threatened with dismissal. Full-time adjunct professors are represented by the AAUP, while part-time are not.

Miller said the AAUP is leery about an unlimited number of adjunct faculty professors because faculty dismissal does not resolve around the competency of the individual, but around university politics. She explained a case at Florida State University, where a donor wanted the economic courses to be taught in a particular way.  Because the university wanted the money, they allowed the donor to have say over who was hired in that department.

“This is why we have tenure,” Miller said. “For the intellectual health of the university, we need to make sure we have control.”

Both parties will meet again with a state mediator on Monday to continue bargaining.

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