“The university will honor our contract with our students,” Schrader said.
If there are any changes to class schedules, WSU leaders will communicate them with students through their Wright State email accounts. The last day students can withdraw from WSU and still get a full refund is Friday, three days after the strike starts.
The strike is the culmination of nearly two years of failed negotiations between leaders of the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University professors and the school’s administration.
In something of a last-ditch effort to calm tensions, the administration made an offer last week to begin negotiating a “successor agreement” to the current terms of employment. Schrader’s offer was turned down, with union president Martin Kich saying that the board was fighting for a change to the current terms of employment, not a future contract.
On Thursday, the union emailed the administration’s attorney saying it would withdraw an unfair labor practice complaint if the administration was willing to withdraw the terms of employment in exchange for negotiations on a current contract.
» RELATED: Wright State strike: What you need to know from both sides
The administration followed up by filing its own unfair labor practice complaint with the state, saying the union had its members mislead the university about whether they intended to strike, spread misleading information to students about attending classes and told department chairs they should resign, among other things, according to the university. In an email sent to the union’s chief negotiator on Friday, WSU legal counsel Larry Chan offered to formally clarify employment terms around furloughs, health care and workload in an effort to reassure union members
Wright State’s finances have contributed to trouble at the negotiating table. The university reduced its spending by around $53 million in fiscal year 2018 in an attempt to begin correcting years of overspending.
The WSU board of trustees on Jan. 4 voted to implement the final terms of employment for the union which includes moving faculty union members into a “uniform” health care plan, maintaining current rules of retrenchment, including no pay raises and allowing faculty to be furloughed as part of “cost savings days.” In its strike notice, the union took issue with the furlough policy, changes to health care, new provisions for promotions and tenure appointment, workload and a merit pay system.
The decision to strike was a “final straw” in reaction to the terms implemented by the board, said Noeleen McIlvenna, a WSU history professor and contract administration officer for the union.
“It feels like an attack on our disciplines, on our professions,” McIlvenna said.
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