Wright State University’s board of trustees voted Monday night to approve a new contract with faculty members who struck for 20 days.
Earlier Monday, Wright State professors were back in the classroom upon reaching a tentative deal with the administration to end what is thought to be the longest faculty union strike in Ohio’s history.
On late Sunday, the sides reached a tentative agreement between negotiators for the administration and the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors. The school’s board of trustees unanimously voted to approve the deal Monday while the AAUP-WSU will take a poll of members in the coming days.
The nearly five-year deal will extend through June 30, 2023, according to the school. As part of the contract, the AAUP-WSU’s 560 or so members will join a university-wide health care plan.
Health care remained a sticking point in contract talks with union leaders saying they would be sacrificing their right to bargain over health benefits by agreeing to the terms originally imposed by the board of trustees Jan. 4. The tentative agreement makes it clear that health care will be included in future contract negotiations, said AAUP-WSU president Martin Kich.
“There’s very strong language in the contract now,” Kich said. “No fact-finder is going to be able to look at it and say: ‘they gave up their right to bargain over health care.’”
Board of trustees chairman Doug Fecher agreed that the new agreement has “some guardrails” in place so the union would be able to continue bargaining over health care in the future. With the strike over, Fecher called on each side to put aside their differences.
AAUP-WSU members will also receive a 2.5 percent raise in 2022 and a 2.5 percent raise in 2023. But, the raises will not necessarily make up for financial concessions accepted by the union in health care and other areas, Kich said.
Under the deal, faculty union members can be furloughed for one day per semester and workload and layoff language will remain the same.
“This agreement serves Wright State University and our students well.,” president Cheryl Schrader said in a prepared statement. “Both parties made substantial concessions to help move the university forward together.”