State board sets emergency hearing to decide legitimacy of Wright State strike

David Castellano, production manager and associate professor of Theater Design and Technology, acknowledges a honking car in front of Wright State. Striking members of Wright State University’s faculty union continued to picket on Thursday, the third day of the strike. Most classes continued to operate with some consolidated, some taught by substitutes, and others taught online. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Caption
David Castellano, production manager and associate professor of Theater Design and Technology, acknowledges a honking car in front of Wright State. Striking members of Wright State University’s faculty union continued to picket on Thursday, the third day of the strike. Most classes continued to operate with some consolidated, some taught by substitutes, and others taught online. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The State Employment Relations Board has scheduled an emergency meeting for Sunday to decide whether a faculty union strike at Wright State University is “unauthorized.”

The hearing is set for noon Sunday at the board’s office at 65 E. State St. in Columbus, according to a meeting notice posted on SERB’s website. The university’s administration and the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors will each have one hour to present their case to the state board, according to the meeting notice.

» RELATED: Ohio lawmakers: Wright State faculty strike needs to end

SERB will then make a ruling by 5 p.m. Sunday, said Seth Bauguess, spokesman for Wright State. The administration and union have until 5 p.m. today to submit their positions and supporting materials to the state board.

“Our attorney is very positive about our chances,” said Martin Kich, AAUP-WSU president. “There’s no telling what SERB is going to do...But, I don’t think there’s anything in there that’s going to invalidate the strike.”

The administration declined to comment directly on the Sunday meeting, but Bauguess said "the filing speaks for itself."

Ohio Revised Code requires SERB to make a decision within 72 hours of when a complaint claiming a strike is unauthorized is filed.

The hearing comes after the administration on Thursday filed another unfair labor practice complaint with the state, asking it to declare the strike unauthorized.

In a filing with the State Employment Relations Board, the administration asked the board to declare the strike unauthorized in part because of workload. Workload, the administration claims, is prohibited from being part of collective bargaining, according to WSU.

A SERB ruling in favor of the university would require the union to cease all strike activity immediately, according to WSU.

» RELATED: Faculty strike could impact Wright State’s enrollment, finances

“The AAUP-WSU cannot maintain a public-sector strike to force the university to negotiate a faculty workload agreement,” the university said in a prepared statement.

In its complaint, the administration also said the strike should be considered unauthorized because the union’s leaders “intentionally sabotaged” plans to keep classes and operations going during the labor dispute. The union did this by asking members to tell the university they did not intend to strike when they actually did, according to the complaint.

The complaint also accuses unionized faculty of removing course information from an electronic WSU system to make it more difficult for the university to offer courses during the strike.

The administration’s latest complaint is unlikely to have “any credibility,” said Noeleen McIlvenna, a WSU history professor and contract administration officer for the union has said. McIlvenna said union leaders were consulting with the group’s attorney about the complaint but that they were not worried.

“Their Thursday filing simply confirms what we know: our strike is effective, and the administration is finding that Wright State University cannot function without us,” the union said in a prepared statement.

FIVE FAST READS

• Easton to anchor expansion with new store in 2019

• WSU may face more scrutiny despite deal on federal visa investigation

• Heating costs could spike this winter as natural gas prices increase

• EXPERT: Wright-Patterson ‘crucial to avoiding a defeat if there’s a World War III,’

• What UD’s change in its China Institute says about shifts in higher education

About the Author