Board of trustees hears concerns from FA about contract conflict
Faculty Association members voiced their concerns to the board of trustees Wednesday and Thursday in the Bovee University Center.
Sarah Opperman, board of trustees chairwoman, read a statement which said the board has received many heartfelt letters about the issue, and a contract agreement would require compromise on both sides.
“We are in regular communication with President Ross and know the administration team has and is more than ready to move toward a compromise and a resolution in the best interest of the entire university,” Opperman said.
Central Michigan University President George Ross said the administration remains eager to reach a fair and equitable contract.
About 150 FA members picketed outside of the UC prior to the meeting. Only media members and those presenting were allowed inside since the President’s Room has about 50 seats. FA members who wished to attend the meeting gathered in another room where it was televised, organized by the FA. However, technical difficulties caused sound problems.
Director of Public Relations Steve Smith said only six FA members wished to attend the meetings, but CM Life could not confirm that number by press time.
The university also reserved the 300-seat UC auditorium for the meeting, as it does for all trustees meetings in case it is needed, Smith said.
The trustees present for Wednesday’s meeting were John Hurd, Brian Fannon, William Kanine and Patricia Maryland.
The faculty committee members present Wednesday included Jim McDonald, associate professor of teacher education and development, Phil Squattrito, FA bargaining team co-chairman, Donna Ericksen, mathematics professor, and James Scott, professor of business information systems.
Rick Sykes, professor of broadcasting and cinematic arts, said although the MAC is a celebrated network, the current lack of contract is hurting its reputation among alumni and industry partners.
Skyes has worked as News Central 34′s adviser since 1996.
Koblar Jackson, physics department chairman, said the crisis is distracting from what he considers the real goal of CMU teaching students. He urged the administration to resume bargaining discussions so the distraction ends.
“My two cents is, I’d like to see us get things settled quickly so we can go back to what we’re really good at,” Jackson said.
Cherie Strachan, assistant political science professor, said this crisis has damaged the trust of CMU toward each other, especially new faculty members. She said the hardcore approach to bargaining is doing more harm to the culture of CMU than saving dollars does.
There are 20 new faculty members employed this year, Ross said Thursday.
“What’s missing is the mutual willingness to compromise,” Squattrito said. “We, the FA, remain willing to do that.”
Trustee John Hurd said he hoped faculty did not perceive the administration’s reluctance to engage in dialogue as a sign of disrespect or a lack of interest. On bargaining issues, they just can’t engage, he said.
“But we do thank you for the input,” Hurd said. “I think we’d love to see this concluded as much as you would.”
The FA’s contract expired June 30 and they have been working under a temporary restraining order since striking the first day of classes. The state-appointed fact-finder, Barry Goldman, is working on a recommendation, expected to be released in early October.
Both sides remain significantly apart on issues of wages and benefits.
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