A majority of the employees represented by Wright State University’s faculty union have signed a pledge rejecting any contract that penalizes them “for the gross mismanagement of the university.”
Contract negotiations between Wright State’s faculty union and the administration have been stalled since March. The union created a strike plan in November, said president Martin Kich.
Kich and the WSU chapter of the the American Association of University Professors fear that the university wants the next contract to make it easier to lay off faculty members because of the school’s financial difficulties. Earlier this year, Wright State’s board of trustees approved more than $30.8 million in budget cuts in an attempt to begin correcting years of overspending.
Kich said that the faculty union took issue with the university’s overspending years earlier but was told they were “simply being alarmists or habitually critical.” The union represents around 584 faculty members and not all faculty are in the union, a university spokesman has said.
Wright State has to carve around $10.5 million out of its budget this year and the school plans to do so mostly by letting empty positions go unfilled, officials have said. Kich criticized that tactic in a AAUP-WSU press release today though.
“Over the last two years, the university has eliminated more than ten percent of its teaching faculty through attrition. Worse, the Board and administration now seem to want to gut the faculty contract to allow for further, rapid reductions in the number of teaching faculty simply to meet immediate budget targets,” Kich said in a prepared statement. “They seem very willing to ignore the longer-term consequences of having dramatically fewer full-time faculty— less expertise and fewer and larger classes. That’s not the ‘fix’ WSU needs.”
Last month, Wright State’s administration responded to the threat of a faculty union strike for the first time, saying that “both practically and legally, a strike is not imminent.” This news organization has reached out to WSU for a comment on the latest statements from the faculty union.