Ferris Faculty Association future unknown

Current contract ends at the conclusion of school year

The Ferris State Faculty Association (FFA) filed an unfair labor practice charge against the university as a result of the Board of Trustee’s rejection of its contract proposal.

The FFA internally voted to pass the measure overwhelmingly, 175 to 8, last month. The proposal was next sent to the Ferris Board of Trustees, where the bid was voted unanimously against, 8 to 0.

“This (collective bargaining) is the intent of recently passed state law, and the proposal in front of us would have curtailed this right,” a statement from the Ferris Board of Trustees said.

The proposal would have ensured that faculty members, regardless of their affiliation with the union, would continue to pay into the association for at least the next five years.

“It’s like saying, ‘I like having my roads plowed, I like the public library, but I don’t want to pay taxes on it,’” FFA President and Ferris professor Jim Rumpf said.

In a few weeks, Michigan will officially become the 24th state to adopt the Right to Work policies, as the law will be enforced starting March 28. This measure will give individual members a choice on whether or not to invest in union dues.

“Honestly, I don’t think they (FFA members) should be able to do that. It’s going against the law. They’re weaseling their way out of something that they are not supposed to get,” Cody Gould, Ferris senior in journalism and technology communications, said.

Gould witnessed the protests in Lansing as a photojournalist intern at FOX 17 as opposition rose against the measure before in was signed into law last December.

Inquiries on Ferris’ official position were referred back to its online press release as stated by the Marc Sheehan, the university’s communication officer.

The collected dues from non-FFA members help the union cover expenses accrued from the contract bargaining process, according to Rumpf.

“Immediately, people who are paying the fee, typically they’re not going to do it. They’re going to quit paying because the legislators have said, ‘You still have all the benefits, but you don’t have to pay for it,’” Rumpf said.

Rumpf has served as FFA president for the past 6 years and is completing his 13th year of Ferris union membership.

State Representative Al Pscholka, according to the Michigan Information and Research Service, plans to set an approximated $100 million aside for universities that meet the following criteria.

First, a prospective recipient of additional funds must keep tuition raises under 2.5 percent for the 2013-14 school year. Secondly, universities themselves must deny any new work contracts that do not adopt current Right to Work policies.

According to a memorandum sent from Ferris President David Eisler to faculty members, “Both the Board of Trustees and I felt that ultimately, risking millions of dollars of funding or further sanction was an unacceptable level of risk.”

The current members of the Ferris Board of Trustees have been placed in their positions by the current and past governors of Michigan, as read on Ferris’ Board of Trustees online page. Members serve eight-year terms.

Wayne State University recently ratified its own contract with similar appropriations, according to a March 12 publication of MLive. Currently, Wayne State has a Board of Trustees comprised of voted upon individuals rather than state appointees.

Rumpf emphatically explained that a worker strike is the last thing on their minds, as the FFA is still willing to engage in negotiations with the Board.

“I don’t think they will strike. I think the professors understand that it’s not about them, it’s about the students. If they are truly about teaching students to become better citizens, they will continue to operate,”
Gould said.