As a thank you to the support the Ferris Faculty Association (FFA) has received from students, the union has initiated a weekly event called “Thankful Thursday.”
FFA members will be handing out food to students in the North Quad and a second location that will vary each week from 10:30 a.m. to noon every Thursday. They will continue to participate in informational picketing concurrently.
“We’ve gotten a lot of support from students. We’ve gotten hundreds of emails and even in classes, students stop and ask us how they can support and they want details about what is going on,” Ferris English Professor and FFA Vice President John Caserta said. “We are very thankful for the students’ support and what we’re fighting for is that they’re ensured a quality education.”
Both the university and FFA attorneys agreed to an indefinite extension of the temporary restraining order that the university was granted Aug. 27, according to a university-wide notice sent out Thursday, Sept. 6. The last negotiation session was Aug. 29 and a contract has yet to be agreed upon.
According to the Ferris website, the university filed a petition for a fact-finding process that will include a hearing conducted by the fact-finder who will make recommendations for a settlement, though it is not binding.
Ferris Physical Science Professor and FFA President Charles Bacon said the university attempted to stop FFA members from picketing and handing out informational fliers to students.
“The court documents filed by Ferris asked to have all forms of demonstration banned, but the judge struck that language,” Bacon said. “Otherwise they would have been able to restrict our constitutional rights of assembly and free speech.”
Ferris Communications Officer Michelle Rasmussen said it was not the university’s intention to violate FFA members’ rights.
“There was no intention of preventing the lawful exercise of their right to picket between classes or the dissemination of fliers,” Rasmussen said. “What the university was asking for was the prevention of obstructing or interfering with the entering and exiting of Ferris buildings and classrooms while picketing.”
President David Eisler said he is not speaking to the media right now.
Caserta said that some students had been led to believe that if the faculty is given the raise they want, it will cause student tuition to go up 12 percent, which is untrue.
“[Eisler’s] $68,500 bonus that he was given this year is more than a lot of faculty people make. For someone making $65,000, a 1.5 percent raise is $900; you take taxes out of that and it’s not very much. It’s a few dollars a week,” Caserta said. “Raising tuition comes from Dave’s huge salary.”
After working at Ferris for 38 years and being on multiple negotiation teams, Caserta said the FFA would not ask for a contract that put financial burdens on students.
“We would never ask for something to hurt students because we wouldn’t be employed if we didn’t have students,” Caserta said.
The Subway sandwiches provided Sept. 6 was paid for through FFA dues and cost around $4,000, according to Bacon. Many students appreciated the free food on Thursday. Ferris communications junior Jacob Lewis said it showed the faculty really cares.
“It makes me feel as if they really care,” Lewis said. “The Subway sandwiches they’re providing us today are paid through union dues, not student tuition. This is something from them to us.”
Ferris nursing junior Elizabeth Buss agreed with Lewis.
“I think it’s really nice and it shows that they care about us, and I just hope that they can figure out everything so that we can focus on learning,” Buss said.