Contract to be made public Friday

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By Friday, the Faculty Association will unveil a contract it has been fighting to establish throughout the past two years.

The contract, which is the first ever negotiated between faculty and the University administration, will be posted on the Faculty Association’s website as well as the University’s website.

“We have to educate the faculty and the administration about the contract,” said David Jackson, president of the Faculty Association. “In the beginning there’s going to be some confusion, I mean, it’s a 150 page, single-spaced document.”

After posting the contract, the association will allow its members to study the document until the week of April 14, when the group is trying to schedule a vote, Jackson said. Faculty will have until April 1 to register for membership to vote on the contract.

The contract will set standard salaries for positions such as full professor, assistant professor and instructor, among others, according to a brief contract summary from the BGSU-FA.

In terms of raises, the contract will give faculty members a combined 6.5 percent raise for both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years, which will come in each faculty member’s May 20 paycheck, according to the contract summary. The contract will also give faculty the security of a 3 percent raise for the next three academic years.

“There’s still plenty of work to do but at least now the faculty know what is planned,” Jackson said.

The work Jackson is referring to includes finalization of the contract and a vote by the Board of Trustees to approve the contract.

While the administration previously called for an emergency meeting for the board to approve the contract, the board likely won’t vote on it until its May 3 meeting, said Patrick Pauken, secretary to the board and chief contract negotiator for the administration.

With the Faculty Association’s vote falling two weeks before the board’s meeting, the short difference in time is one of a few reasons why the board will not meet early, Pauken said.

“It would be pretty difficult to get the board together earlier so we’re pleased that it doesn’t look like we’ll have to,” Pauken said during a phone interview.

Although the board’s approval may not come until its May meeting, the initial announcement of the agreement may have even prevented a strike.

“It was our nuclear deterrent,” Jackson said. “Just like any country, you never want to have to use it but we were prepared to and that wasn’t an easy decision to make.”

Along with preventing a strike, the agreement will also award the retroactive 6.5 percent raise for the past two academic years to the 100 faculty members cut in January.

Student supporters of the Faculty Association, such as sophomore Michael Hart, were happy to hear that the 100 cut faculty members would benefit from the new contract. Hart was involved in the BGSU-FA’s March on McFall protest of the cuts in February.

“I think the administration heard the student voice,” Hart said. “It just shows that the administration is heading in the right way.”

Despite the contract’s inclusion of the 100 faculty members, the Faculty Association is still attempting to separately negotiate the cuts with the administration, Jackson said.

With the contract’s impending approval, the administration and association will soon end a larger battle that started nearly four years ago when the first faculty members took an interest in forming a union.

With what the Faculty Association has considered a lengthy negotiation, the possibility of forming a contract has also been threatened by legislation such as Senate Bill 5, Jackson said. If fully implemented, the bill could have prevented union members in Ohio from using their rights to collective bargaining.

But, with four years of discussion, protest and tension behind them, members of the administration and the Faculty Association are happy they’ve reached a “mutually beneficial” agreement, Pauken and Jackson said.

“It’s a relief and overall, we’re pretty satisfied,” Jackson said.

Besides being satisfied that negotiations are finished, Pauken is happy that the agreement seems to have brought the faculty and administration together, while also preserving the ideals of the University.

“BGSU didn’t get lost in the whole process and we’ve come to realize that we’re all faculty at heart,” Pauken said. “That’s not a bad thing either.”