What progress has been made in contract discussions this semester?
“I can’t get into specifics—what we’ve agreed to, what we’ve not—but it’s been very fruitful from my perspective, in terms of our engaging and good conversations. We have come to an agreement, changing, modifying and adjusting our procedure and contract language. We still are going through some things, and really, it’s been mutual agreement on everything.”
“I would characterize it as a lot of progress. We’ve made some modifications to the tenure and promotion process and to the letter of agreement on the academic advisors. We have eliminated an entire appendix on course development agreements and intellectual property, Appendix B and C. For the first time ever, faculty will be compensated for doing independent study courses.”
“We don’t have any final language on stuff. Let’s get a final language.”
How close do you believe the FFA and the university are to finalizing a new contract?
“One of the intent[s] of our discussions is to keep the economics out. What I mean by that is any future raises, cost of medical benefits, all those type of things. So, we still have quite a ways to go. We probably won’t get into that until well into May.”
“We still have some really intense months. The end of this month, May and June for sure. But I do like the atmosphere, attitude and direction that we’re going.”
“I had wanted to hold off on the financial stuff. Tonight [the FFA] have a general membership meeting. I didn’t want that to become the issue. Going forward from here, each team will be looking at the financial issues. Salary benefits, health insurance, supplemental market adjustment, dollar amounts that go with promotion from assistant to associate, things like that.”
How long have you participated in contract discussions/how many rounds of contract discussions have you been present for?
“Well, I was part of the bargaining team on the last contract discussions… I’ve been involved in this in a roundabout way for several years. So, I was [on the] negotiating team the last time we signed a contract. My official role as Associate Provost has been for the last year.”
Who else is present at these discussions?
“Fredricka Hayes is our HR director. Then we have Michael Garrity, who’s our labor relations person. And then Logan Jones represents the College of Business. He’s the Dean of College of Business.”
“John Caserta. And, currently, Jenice Winowiecki is present as well, and Brandy Vanderhovel is our UniServ director.”
How have this semester’s discussions compared to 2018’s?
“We didn’t even start until June , right? So, the contract was almost expired, and we didn’t finish everything up till November. So, we’re way ahead right now.”
“One of the main differences is generally when it gets contentious, the parties bring out attorneys that specifically deal with labor relations issues. Right now, it’s just a group of us talking and discussing the language. The labor relations attorneys that both sides contract with are not present. We’re trying to do as much as we can to avoid the contentious issues.”
“Oh, good heavens. The previous contract was dominated by an outside attorney that Eisler had brought in his brought in for 20 years.”
“We had meetings throughout the summer of 2018. And then when they fell apart, a week before class, that was the last time we met until mediation. In mediation, we brought in an outside mediator who went between rooms during the meetings we had during the fall. So much, much different.”
“I asked the President in August, when first time when I sat down with him. Can we do this differently? Can we do what we’re doing right now? Would you have an objection to that? And he said no. My words were, ‘Let’s keep the attorneys out of the room.’ That way, everyone in the room is vested in Ferris.”
Do you feel like you’re setting a new precedent for future contract discussions?
“I hope this is the way we go. We need to talk earlier, right? And we can’t wait until the month it expires and expect something to happen. So, this open dialogue that we have in these discussions is good.”
“Depends how it ends up, doesn’t it? But I’d like to think so. We have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
What is the goal for this year’s new contract?
“I’d like to settle the contract before it expires. That’s my goal. I would rather not have it expire at the end of June and then have some sort of struggle as we get through July [and] August. We need to focus on the other bills for the university.”
“There’s so many pieces. I couldn’t isolate on one piece. Faculty just want to be respected.”
“I don’t want to make it sound like all we’re interested in is money. It’s not. We’re interested in Ferris succeeding and growing and whatnot. You don’t do that without having faculty committed to the institution.”
“For the last 20 years with Eisler, we were just not respected. We weren’t part of the decision making, we were simply an expense. And basically a bother, right. President Pink is much more of a person I believe who wants all stakeholders to feel good about the institution.”
-edited by ML