Our negotiating team met once again with the administration negotiators Monday, September 21 for the scheduled three hour session. The topics on the agenda were the Preamble and Purpose clauses, Union Rights, and the Fair Share articles we had proposed. We began by discussing the “Discipline and Discharge” and the “No Strike, No Lockout” provisions we had both submitted previously. The administration proposals were lengthy and quite restrictive. We will continue discussion of these proposals in future sessions.
We then moved on to the other topics. It took nearly half an hour to figure out that the admin. team was not only completely opposed to any “Fair Share Clause” in our contract, but that they found this article, a core part of labor contracts in our state, “troubling.” Our preamble to the contract (in which we state our common purpose as a community dedicated to the common goals of higher education) was also rejected out of hand. “We are not willing to agree to a lot of that” was the curt dismissal from the other side.
After a caucus of nearly two hours, the administration team submitted a counterproposal on union rights. While much of this counterproposal contains language that we will be able to agree on, we were struck by the admin.’s insistence that our union had no place at the annual orientation for new faculty. “That’s our event, and we will run it as appropriate.” We also re-submitted a set of counterproposals on strike and lockout/discipline and discharge as a combination package. We spent some time clarifying the appropriate way to discuss background checks as part of our negotiations and then agreed on further bargaining dates. Our next bargaining session will take place on October 7.
All in all we spent only about sixty minutes of our three hour session talking to each other, as the admin. team continues to use the bargaining time mostly to caucus rather than to bargain. We will continue to push for the settlement of all our outstanding issues. We are also hoping for the university to present its economic proposals soon, something we have been waiting for during the past nine months.