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Administration, faculty union to complete contract within one year

If negotiating a collective bargaining contract is likened to a race, the finish line is now in sight for the University’s administration and faculty union.

The two parties’ bargaining teams recently committed to negotiating their first contract by July 1.

Bargaining sessions between the Faculty Association and administration began July 2011, which gives both sides nearly one year to finalize a contract.

“It’s ambitious, but we think the ambition is important,” said Pat Pauken, vice provost for governance and faculty relations. “We’re optimistic for a productive spring, and the common goal is a contract that’s beneficial for the individuals involved, as well as the institution as a whole.”

The administration and faculty union signed an agreement Dec. 15 known as a Mutually Agreed Dispute Settlement Procedure, according to an email sent by the Faculty Association on Dec. 16.

The agreement allowed both sides to determine their bargaining schedule without having one imposed by the State Employment Relations Board, said Andy Schocket, Faculty Association communications director.

“This is big for us because first contracts typically take 18 to 24 months to negotiate, but ours will be completed in under a year,” Schocket said. “For both sides to commit to this is really positive because of course we want a contract sooner than later.”

Until that contract is complete, faculty and administrators cannot discuss specific bargaining topics publicly, said Dave Kielmeyer, University spokesperson, in early August.

Typically bargaining topics include faculty salaries, benefits and employment terms and conditions.

Once the contract is finalized, it will be presented to Faculty Association members for ratification and to the Board of Trustees for approval, Pauken said.

Representatives from both sides said they anticipate more frequent bargaining sessions throughout the spring semester, as well as increased research and writing to prepare for contract proposals.

“A lot of the bargaining work happens away from the table, working with our respective teams,” Pauken said. “It’s definitely going to be busy, but it’s going to be very productive. We’ve hit a good stride.”

Schocket agreed, citing the “hundreds of hours” of outside work Faculty Association members clocked before and during negotiations.

“It’s hard work, but it’s also exciting work,” Schocket said. “This is what we’ve been building to since we started organizing several years ago. It’s been a lot of work over several years, and as with any marathon, it’s really exciting to see the finish line.”

Any faculty member who joins the Faculty Association will be able to vote on the contract, but it will affect all University faculty members when ratified, Schocket said.

Those interested in joining the Faculty Association before the vote can visit www.bgsu-fa.org or the American Association of University Professors website, www.aaup.org.

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