The Ferris Faculty Association (FFA) will be ling grievances against the university over what they allege are unpaid wages and a breach of contract.
Less than one month has passed since the FFA and Ferris agreed on the terms of a contract and yet the FFA is arguing that Ferris has already violated that contract. As stated in the contract, Ferris owes FFA members a $1,841 salary raise spread out over their remaining pay checks for the 2018-19 school year.
However, Ferris is refusing to pay the increase for the weeks that faculty were not under the current contract, June to November, and are spreading the dollar amount over the whole year, resulting in about $700 in losses for faculty members. Ferris said that by paying the full $1,841 they would be violating Michigan law, which prevents retroactive pay of contractual increases.
“The university believes the contract language concerning the first-year salary increase is clear and applied properly. The Ferris Faculty Association’s position is not supported by the clear language of the written agreement, and their interpretation would violate Michigan law which prohibits the retroactive application of contractual increases reached in negotiations,” Ferris communications officer Michelle Rasmussen said.
The FFA is arguing that the payment was never discussed as being retroactive in negotiations, and therefore does not violate the law. FFA President and physical sciences professor Charles Bacon also said this issue was discussed beforehand during the negotiations.
“We discussed this within our team because we knew they would try something like this. As such, I asked [President David Eisler’s lawyer, Jim Greene] point blank, ‘The dollar amount of $1,841 per faculty will be paid over the remaining pay periods.’ His answer was, ‘Yes, that’s right,’” Bacon said.
Many students are wondering why the faculty members are not being paid the additional money and what will come of the situation.
“I think that it’s terrible, and that it kind of justifies the FFA’s distrust of the university. It kind of feels like the university doesn’t have enough respect for the FFA,” Ferris secondary education sophomore Collin Tenpleman said.
The allegations of a breach of contract likely won’t help the increasingly rocky relationship between the FFA and Eisler. In early October, a vote of no-condence aimed at Eisler received 88.5 percent support of faculty. Many of the FFA’s informational handouts also took aim at Eisler and some faculty and students expect the FFA to resume demonstrations against Eisler and Ferris if the payment issue isn’t resolved.
“Not honoring [the contract] and asking the teachers to choose between supporting their students and making the ethical decision of doing something they enjoy and think is important in educating people and making professionals, and something that is rightly deserved of them is a huge problem.” Ferris secondary education junior Kevin Malloy said.
As to why the university might be trying to withhold the money, Bacon, who described Ferris as unethical for the alleged violation, doesn’t believe it has to do with the law, but is rather a personal attack on faculty.
“It’s called retaliation,” Bacon said. “There was no confusion. We clarified this with them but they have chosen to not be honorable.”