The leadership of Kent State’s faculty union and university officials are recommending the adoption of a fact-finder’s report that proposes terms for a contract settlement between the two parties.

The Kent State chapter of the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP-KSU) Executive Committee and Council voted to unanimously accept the report; the university said on its website it is “supportive of the Fact Finder’s determination and will recommend to the Board of Trustees acceptance of the Fact Finder’s Report.”

It’s unclear when Kent State’s Board of Trustees will meet to vote on the report. The next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees’ meeting is June 5.

In a May 17 email to its members, AAUP-KSU said that once the two sides accept the report, the union will work with the university to finalize contract language and work to reach a tentative agreement. At that point, AAUP-KSU will ask its tenured and tenure-track members via an email vote to “accept or reject the fact-finder’s report and ratify the new contract.”

Both parties, Kent State and AAUP-KSU, were restricted from releasing the report, created by Barton Bixenstine, a specialist in employment and labor law, beyond their leadership and advisory bodies or from voting on its recommendations for seven days following its release.

 Some key points in the report:

  • The new contract would cover four academic years and run from 2018 through 2022. AAUP-KSU said the 2018 to 2019 year would most likely be handled in a side agreement.

  • Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the current 90/70 and 80/60 Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) medical plans would be eliminated and replaced with an 85/60 plan. Annual out-of-pocket maximums would increase to $1200 for single coverage and $2400 for family coverage.

  • Across-the-board raises of 2% each year of the contract, except for 2019, when the raise will be 2.5%. The .5% increase is intended to help offset the increase in health care benefits costs. A merit awards pool of funds in year 2021 to 2022 will be 2%.

  • The report recommends the President’s Faculty Excellence Awards pool be continued and set at $210,000. In the last contract, the amount was $400,000.

  • Faculty promoted from assistant professor to associate professor would receive an additional $1000 increase in salary.

In its May 17 email, the union stated the university did not offer more than a 6% increase over three years for the total salary package (including the raises and merit increases) for years 2019 to 2022, but the fact-finder’s report recommends 8.5%.

Deborah Smith, the first vice president and negotiations committee chair for AAUP-KSU, declined to comment on the negotiations but said the union is following its process. Eric Mansfield, the executive director of university media relations, said the Kent State administration had no comment at this time.

If the report is rejected by either side, the union will likely notify the State Employee Relations Board of its intent to strike, according to the AAUP-KSU website. Union members voted to authorize a strike Dec. 10, 2018. The strike would begin the first or second week of the Fall 2019 semester, according to the May 10 fact-finding update online.

In October 2018, a federal mediator was called in to help break an impasse between the two parties. The last mediation session took place March 26. Union officials requested a fact-finder to be brought into the negotiations on Dec. 20, 2018.

David Williams is a senior reporter. Contact him at dwill191@kent.edu.

Rachel Karas is the editor of KentWired. Contact her at rkaras1@kent.edu.

Fact Finder Report

 

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