Still no deal

Contract negotiations stagnant as calendar turns to October

Negotiations between the Ferris Faculty Association (FFA) and Employer’s Negotiations Team (EMT) are still progressing slowly.

Director of Communications Marc Sheehan said very little progress has been made since the beginning of the fall 2010 semester. Both teams are still working to agree on a proposal that will benefit the university.

On terms of a contract being available by the end of the fall 2010 semester, Sheehan said he thinks that would be the best action for Ferris students.

“If we’re not able to see some progress at the next meeting, it’s pretty likely at this point the university will move to fact-finding,” said Sheehan. “We wouldn’t likely have another negotiations meeting at that point until the fact-finder made his/her recommendation.”

The fact-finder is a state-appointed individual who listens in on the negotiations. If the fact-finder agrees with both sides, he or she will evaluate the final two proposals from each of the teams. The fact-finder will then return to the teams with a proposal. The FFA and EMT would review the recommendation from the fact-finder and discuss if they can use that as a basis for an agreement.

According to Sheehan, the fact-finding process could take as a long as three to six months.

“What the remaining issues really in the end are going to boil down to are economic issues,” said Sheehan.

The teams have looked at contracts negotiated at other universities, such as Eastern Michigan University and Northern Michigan University. Sheehan said those contracts feature salary increases in amounts of 0 to 2.4 percent.

As for Ferris, Sheehan said with putting together the salary increases and supplemental market adjustment, the proposed increases ranged from 2.7 to 3.7 percent and a five-year contract, including four years and an optional fifth year.

“Looking at some of the recently completed contracts, we’d say that’s pretty competitive,” said Sheehan.

As for the occurrence of a strike, Sheehan said if there would be a strike or job action, it would not be lawful in Michigan.

“What would be my hope is that the probability of a strike would be zero, I don’t think this would be in the best interest of the students,” said Sheehan.

According to an FFA negotiations update released on Sept. 23, the university is preparing for cuts in support of higher education. The state legislature has recently passed the new fiscal year’s budget, which includes a 2.8 percent cut.

“What we’re trying to do is balance a contract that’s fair and equitable for faculty and keep tuition down for students,” said Sheehan.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Oct. 7, where a state mediator will be present. n