For Immediate Release
February 6, 2019
United University Professions, the union representing faculty and staff at the State University of New York and the largest higher education union in the country, has voted to stand in solidarity with its sisters and brothers at Wright State University, who are on strike to protect and preserve health care benefits and fight for a new contract.
The union is also considering plans to send a delegation of UUP members to join members of the American Association of University Professors-Wright State University Chapter on the picket line, said Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., president of UUP.
At the 2019 Winter Delegate Assembly Feb. 4, UUP delegates unanimously voted to publicly support the AAUP-WSU’s 560 members and the union’s decision to strike for a fair contract. The strike may be the longest in the history of Ohio higher education.
“UUP stands with our sisters and brothers in their strike for a fair and equitable contract,” Kowal said. “The WSU Board of Trustees is trying to impose unfair employment terms on AAUP-WSU members, which is an outrageous attack on the fundamental rights of their union, and all of organized labor.”
AAUP-WSU members went on strike Jan. 22 after two years of failed contract negotiations. The union rejected the administration’s “last, best” contract offer, which would have moved faculty union members into a health care plan with lesser coverage—the same plan offered to non-union employees and other staff. The offer also maintained current rules of retrenchment, failed to include pay raises and would allow faculty to be furloughed on “cost-savings days.”
The union tendered a Feb. 2 offer that contained $8 million in concessions, which was turned down by the administration. AAUP-WSU rejected a Feb. 3 offer from the administration, which held firm on their insistence that union members accept the non-union health plan—which the union calls the worst health care plan in the state of Ohio, according to documents on its website.
Now, the administration has posted ads on two online higher education job boards seeking “long term” adjunct instructors in more than 80 fields—a move that some AAUP-WSU leaders said was meant to intimidate unionists.
Kowal sent a Jan. 30 letter to AAUP-WSU offering UUP’s help. In the letter, Kowal expressed UUP’s “unwavering support” for AAUP-WSU.
Kowal said he would be part of a UUP contingent that joins striking Wright State unionists. While plans are in the works for union members to travel to the Dayton, Ohio-based campus, no dates or firm plans have been set.
UUP is sending letters of support for AAUP-WSU members to Wright State University President Cheryl Schrader and the university’s Board of Trustees, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, and leaders of the Ohio State Legislature, said Kowal.
“We applaud AAUP-WSU members’ efforts to preserve, protect and defend union rights, working conditions and quality education,” he said.