Ferris Faculty Association Future Unknown

Current contract ends at the conclusion of school year

by Published: Mar 20, 2013

The Ferris State Faculty Association (FFA) filed an unfair labor prac­tice charge against the uni­ver­sity as a result of the Board of Trustee’s rejec­tion of its con­tract proposal.

The FFA inter­nally voted to pass the mea­sure over­whelm­ingly, 175 to 8, last month. The pro­posal was next sent to the Ferris Board of Trustees, where the bid was voted unan­i­mously against, 8 to 0.

“This (col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing) is the intent of recently passed state law, and the pro­posal in front of us would have cur­tailed this right,” a state­ment from the Ferris Board of Trustees said.

The pro­posal would have ensured that fac­ulty mem­bers, regard­less of their affil­i­a­tion with the union, would con­tinue to pay into the asso­ci­a­tion for at least the next five years.

“It’s like say­ing, ‘I like hav­ing my roads plowed, I like the pub­lic library, but I don’t want to pay taxes on it,’” FFA President and Ferris pro­fes­sor Jim Rumpf said.

In a few weeks, Michigan will offi­cially become the 24th state to adopt the Right to Work poli­cies, as the law will be enforced start­ing March 28. This mea­sure will give indi­vid­ual mem­bers a choice on whether or not to invest in union dues.

“Honestly, I don’t think they (FFA mem­bers) should be able to do that. It’s going against the law. They’re weasel­ing their way out of some­thing that they are not sup­posed to get,” Cody Gould, Ferris senior in jour­nal­ism and tech­nol­ogy com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said.

Gould wit­nessed the protests in Lansing as a pho­to­jour­nal­ist intern at FOX 17 as oppo­si­tion rose against the mea­sure before in was signed into law last December.

Inquiries on Ferris’ offi­cial posi­tion were referred back to its online press release as stated by the Marc Sheehan, the university’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion officer.

The col­lected dues from non-FFA mem­bers help the union cover expenses accrued from the con­tract bar­gain­ing process, accord­ing to Rumpf.

“Immediately, peo­ple who are pay­ing the fee, typ­i­cally they’re not going to do it. They’re going to quit pay­ing because the leg­is­la­tors have said, ‘You still have all the ben­e­fits, but you don’t have to pay for it,’” Rumpf said.

Rumpf has served as FFA pres­i­dent for the past 6 years and is com­plet­ing his 13th year of Ferris union membership.

State Representative Al Pscholka, accord­ing to the Michigan Information and Research Service, plans to set an approx­i­mated $100 mil­lion aside for uni­ver­si­ties that meet the fol­low­ing criteria.

First, a prospec­tive recip­i­ent of addi­tional funds must keep tuition raises under 2.5 per­cent for the 2013–14 school year. Secondly, uni­ver­si­ties them­selves must deny any new work con­tracts that do not adopt cur­rent Right to Work policies.

According to a mem­o­ran­dum sent from Ferris President David Eisler to fac­ulty mem­bers, “Both the Board of Trustees and I felt that ulti­mately, risk­ing mil­lions of dol­lars of fund­ing or fur­ther sanc­tion was an unac­cept­able level of risk.”

The cur­rent mem­bers of the Ferris Board of Trustees have been placed in their posi­tions by the cur­rent and past gov­er­nors of Michigan, as read on Ferris’ Board of Trustees online page. Members serve eight-year terms.

Wayne State University recently rat­i­fied its own con­tract with sim­i­lar appro­pri­a­tions, accord­ing to a March 12 pub­li­ca­tion of MLive. Currently, Wayne State has a Board of Trustees com­prised of voted upon indi­vid­u­als rather than state appointees.

Rumpf emphat­i­cally explained that a worker strike is the last thing on their minds, as the FFA is still will­ing to engage in nego­ti­a­tions with the Board.

“I don’t think they will strike. I think the pro­fes­sors under­stand that it’s not about them, it’s about the stu­dents. If they are truly about teach­ing stu­dents to become bet­ter cit­i­zens, they will con­tinue to oper­ate,”
Gould said.