MEA President urges University administration to respect faculty and settle contract
BIG RAPIDS – The Ferris Faculty Association (FFA) voted overwhelmingly this evening to go on strike, citing a lack of progress at the bargaining table and unwillingness by the administration to bargain in good faith. The FFA represents approximately 450 full-time faculty at the University.
The faculty association requested the administration begin bargaining in March of this year, as the contract was set to expire June 30. The FFA did not receive a response until May and the university refused to bargain in May and June.
“University administration has engaged in delay tactics instead of sitting down with the faculty bargaining team to reach solutions that benefit the University, its faculty and students. A decision to strike is never easy, but in this case it was the only option left for the faculty association,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart.
The faculty are seeking a modest wage increase, while noting compensation for the university president position has seen a 128 percent salary increase since 2001. During that same time period, faculty wages have increased 44 percent.
Prior to the strike vote, the FFA filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission against the university. The charges detail the university’s refusal to bargain in good faith, as well as bullying and intimidation tactics the university has engaged in. Specifically, college administrators directed employees to conduct video surveillance of faculty members to identify those participating in informational picketing in the days leading up to the strike vote.
“While bullying and intimidation seem to be fashionable for those in power these days, they are counterproductive to reaching solutions in a labor dispute,” said FSU FA President Charles Bacon.
The university has again retained the same law firm it used in the last round of negotiations. That firm billed Ferris State University more than $400,000 for its work in 2013. The university recently hired a public relations firm as well.
“FSU students expect the university to do its part to retain and attract the best and brightest faculty members. Students are insisting the university spend their tuition dollars on a fair faculty contract, instead of spending precious resources on lawyers and P.R. firms,” President Herbart stated.