As contract negotiations continue, tensions rise

SUBMITTED PHOTO : M. FRIEDMAN FACULTY MEMBERS walked the commons Aug. 27 to protest their contract negotiations with the administration. Robert Spalletta, Ph.D., (left), Anthony Ferzola, Ph.D., and Marian Farrell, Ph.D. were among the members who held signs expressing their concerns regarding the proposed contract. A second protest is planned for Sept. 18 before the dedication of Edward R. Leahy Jr. Hall.

SUBMITTED PHOTO : M. FRIEDMAN FACULTY MEMBERS walked the commons Aug. 22 to protest their contract negotiations with the administration. Robert Spalletta, Ph.D., (left), Anthony Ferzola, Ph.D., and Marian Farrell, Ph.D. were among the members who held signs expressing their concerns regarding the proposed contract. A second protest is planned for Sept. 18 before the dedication of Edward R. Leahy Jr. Hall.

Published: September 11, 2015

Updated: September 22, 2015

KAYLA SHEA
SARAH MUELLER

The Faculty Affairs Council (FAC) will participate in its second demonstration at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 18 in response to the on-going contract negotiations between faculty and administration.

Faculty union members will gather 30 minutes before the formal dedication of Edward R. Leahy Jr. Hall on Jefferson Avenue. Similarly to the union’s first demonstration on the commons, they plan to take advantage of the expectedly large crowd.

“So we’ll be out there…protesting and trying to get the press involved,” Michael Friedman, Ph.D., FAC chairperson, said. “Just to try to bring attention to the situation and then after that it might be Minimal Compliance – Stage 2.”

FAC has been in Minimal Compliance – Stage 1 since July 13. Stage one involves faculty members only doing what is required of them by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and nothing more. Some professors are strictly adhering to Minimal Compliance guidelines while others are loosely following the guidelines. Therefore, students will feel different effects depending on their professors.

Senior, Zachary Mulhaul, a biophysics major, considers himself lucky to work with professors who follow Minimal Compliance – Stage 1 loosely.

“I think the professors that I have, luckily, are passionate enough that even though there are other professors doing the Minimal Compliance, and even if they’re supportive of the contract, they’re still going to go out of their way because they know classes are challenging and that if you need help, they’ll help you out,” Mulhaul said.

FAC seems hesitant to enter Stage 2, which has not been outlined for public viewing yet, because they do not want to negatively impact students. Friedman expressed his concerns of the effects on students.

“We are still trying, as much as we can, not to do anything that will affect students directly, but unfortunately, there’s always indirect effects on people,” Friedman explained.

Some students have approached student government with questions regarding the contract negotiations. Student body president Chris Kilner explained that, in addition to administration and faculty members, student government is a resource to students.

“We’ve been serving as a resource for anyone who has had questions since we do have contacts both with the faculty and the administration,” Kilner said. “(Students) can either go and speak to people in the administration, who are resources to our students, or they could go and talk to any of their faculty who are part of the union.”

Administration declined an interview. Director of News and Media Relations at The University, Stan Zygmunt, provided an official statement from The University.

“We are immensely proud of our faculty and their deep commitment to our students, which is why we are committed to providing them with a fair and competitive contract,” Zygmunt wrote in an email.

The Rev. Dr. Quinn also declined an interview. He provided a brief statement in addition to the official statement Zygmunt offered.

“The University remains committed to reaching a swift and fair conclusion to contract negotiations through the collective bargaining process,” Quinn wrote in an email.

Every three years, The University administration and the FAC negotiate a contract to be implemented for the next three years. This year is a contract negotiation year.

The first contract negotiation session was Jan. 14. There have been multiple sessions since then, with the most recent planned for Aug. 31. But when FAC received an email from administration with their decision to push the next scheduled negotiation meeting to the next day with a mediator present, complications rose.

“It was a very disappointing situation because we were under the impression that The University had agreed to meet with us on August 31,” Friedman said. “They said ‘We won’t meet on September 1 unless you agree to have a mediator present at the meeting.’”

Friedman explained that FAC does not oppose mediation.

“We have no problems with mediation in and of itself. It can be very helpful. We simply did not think at the time that it was the right thing for us to do. We hadn’t discussed it amongst ourselves, we had some reservations, particularly about having mediation imposed upon us. This is what we really did not like,” Friedman said. “That they were saying, ‘We will not meet with you, unless you agree to having the mediator there.’ And mediation is supposed to be a mutual and voluntary process.”

Friedman believes The University was more forceful than necessary.

“This is part of the problem with dealing with our administration right now, is that they have become kind of authoritative,” Friedman said.

FAC emailed The University’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Donald Boomgarden, Ph.D., agreeing to a negotiation meeting with a mediator present, under the conditions that FAC will be able to present evidence of what decisions have already been agreed upon and that FAC is only agreeing to one session with a mediator at this point in the negotiation.

The new date for the next contract negotiation session is Sept. 14.
Friedman believes the administration thinks FAC “will get tired and go away.” He said the faculty will not.

“We’re trying to take this step by step, but The University still is pretending that they just don’t care about what we’re doing — like they don’t care we’re withdrawing from these activities, they don’t care that we’re protesting, they don’t care about the bad publicity that it generates,” Friedman said.

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