The FSU adjunct union will be picketing near the Timme Center for Student Services on April 28 in an attempt to bring campus-wide attention to contract negotiations.
The Ferris Nontenure-Track Organization (FNTFO) began organizing last spring and represents an estimated 100 nontenure-track faculty on Ferris’ Big Rapids campus.
Shelly Armstrong, spokesperson for the administration, said negotiations between the FNTFO and Ferris’ administration have been taking place since Feb. 3.
According to the administration, progress has been made since negotiations first began. Armstrong said tentative agreements have been reached on 14 important provisions that are part of a collective bargaining agreement. However, according to Armstrong, on March 3 the FNTFO presented a package of proposals that included “exorbitant wage and benefit increases as well as limits on the university’s ability to determine teaching assignments.”
Armstrong also said the administration is disappointed by a recent FNTFO press release. Armstrong said she sees the press release as going against the ground rules agreed upon by both parties on Feb. 10.
“We believe it is in violation of the ground rules and does not reflect good-faith bargaining,” said Armstrong. “The administration has reinforced the position that adjunct professors play a large role in the university, but they will not be treated as full-time tenure.”
Ferris faculty member and bargaining team member Beth Reynolds said she has been teaching at the university full-time for the past 12 years. However, Reynolds said she is still considered adjunct faculty by the university. She said one of the biggest key issues for adjunct professors is job security.
Reynolds explained that in 2009, she was diagnosed with a condition requiring immediate surgery and multiple doctor appointments. As adjunct faculty, Reynolds was allowed only one sick day per semester. Taking an additional sick day to manage her condition, Reynolds said her paycheck was docked by over $200.
“We all work at Ferris. We should all get the same benefits,” said Reynolds. “But that’s not the case.”
FNTFO President and Adjunct Professor Alice Bandstra said she has taught at Ferris for 20 years. Bandstra agrees the issue of job security is a major concern for the FNTFO.
“At the end of each semester I am terminated and at the beginning of each semester I am rehired,” said Bandstra.
Unlike tenure-track professors, Ferris adjunct professors have varying appointments with starting and ending dates including by semester, 9-months, 12-months or 24-months. Bandstra said the FNTFO is frustrated by the pace of the contract negotiations between both parties.
“We are moving slowly. Our concerns are that the administration realizes our need for support and job security,” said Bandstra.
Nontenure-track faculty represents approximately 20 percent of the university’s total faculty. Armstrong said she remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached by the last scheduled negotiation session on May 26.
The FNTFO’s informational picketing demonstration will take place from 11 a.m. – noon.