Faculty approves contract
October 17, 2005 —
The SVSU faculty ratified a new three-year contract Thursday after six months of negotiations with the University. The contract is subject to approval from the Board of Control.
With the new contract, faculty will receive salary increases of 3.5 percent for this school year and next, and 3.25 percent for the 2007-2008 school year. In addition, two new health care plans will be provided, professors will be given more hours for professional leave, and a definitive procedure on the protection of the classroom environment was outlined.
Out of the 208 faculty members that voted, 166 were in favor of the new contract, 40 were opposed, and two abstained.
"It's been harder than usual," said Faculty Association President Marcia Shannon, who added that while she was frustrated throughout the negotiations, she was happy the contract was ratified and wanted to go forward.
Some of the faculty were concerned that the pay raises would not outweigh the rise of health care costs. Many of the votes against the contract were for that reason.
"Health care is a terrible problem in this country," said Shannon, an assistant professor of nursing. "Even though there was about an 80 percent positive response to the contract, the minority was not happy with the health care options."
She added that the Association will listen to the minority and attempt to come up with a better plan for the next contract.
With the University growing, Shannon said too much was being asked of individual departments.
"There were a lot of duties being asked of the faculty," she said. "It used a lot of extra time and energy of the faculty. The departments were feeling overloaded."
To do that, the contract provides some departments' professors up to 12 class hours of professional leave time during each academic year. Not every department will receive 12 hours; the amount is based on the size of each department. Some, like the English department, will receive 12 while others will receive anywhere from zero to 12.
The provision was satisfying, said Shannon, who added that with Don Bachand, the dean of the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences, taking over the English department during the last academic year, the administration realized how much the department was working.
"We needed to secure some more resources," Shannon said.
The procedures for maintaining the classroom environment are not anything new, Shannon said, but many faculty members were confused about the specifics. If a student becomes too disruptive to the class, faculty can cancel classes or call University Police if they feel threatened.
"This just reinforces that the faculty is in control," she added.
Five faculty members compromised the Association's negotiating team: Chief bargainer and communications professor David Schneider, associate professor of teacher education Camille Cammack, English professor Basil Clark, accounting professor Larry Kickham, and psychology professor Janet Robinson.
SVSU President Eric R. Gilbertson would not comment on the contract, pending the Board of Control's approval. The next formal session scheduled for the Board, though, is not until December.
"I expect the Board of Control to have a very brief special meeting to approve the contract with the Faculty Association," Gilbertson said. "We're working now on a date when a quorum is available.