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Wright State Faculty Union Rejects Arbitrator’s Report, University Responds

Noeleen Mcilvenna is a Professor of History at Wright State. She says the administration has placed an unfair burden on its teaching professionals - putting their job security and tenure positions at risk.
Jerry Kenney
It's unclear when negotiations between Wright State University and the faculty union could resume.

Wright State’s faculty union has rejected a proposed contract by an independent arbitrator. The union’s rejection clears the way for a strike if an agreement with the school’s administration is not reached.

More than 95 percent of union members voted to reject the report.

It was produced by an arbitrator known as a fact-finder, tasked with coming to a compromise on unresolved contract issues.

Noeleen McIlvenna, a union member and professor at Wright State, says the union concluded the fact finder’s suggestions will hurt the quality of education at the school.

“We’re already down 90 full time faculty by attrition,” says McIlvenna. “Now, we’re down in enrollment, so we've been managing. But we can't afford to lose more [faculty] at this point. They are cutting education rather than the stuff they need to cut first.”

McIlvenna says the report called for reduced job security and cuts to health-insurance benefits, among other things. Such changes, she says, could dramatically increase class sizes and professor workload. 

The university unanimously voted to approve the fact finder’s report.

In a statement Thursday, WSU President Cheryl Schrader disputed the union’s take on a number of elements in the report, denying that the administration proposed the elimination of faculty tenure, and claimed proposed health plans are on par with those at comparable institutions.

“Our priorities in this bargaining process have centered on financial sustainability for the university,” Schrader says.

Wright State is reckoning with a financial crisis caused largely by years of overspending.

Last year, the school cut tens of millions of dollars from its budget and laid off dozens of employees.

Wright State’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors union has been negotiating with university administration since January of 2017.

There’s no immediate timeline for resuming talks.

Note: Both Wright State University and the Wright State Chapter of the American Association of University Professors are underwriters of WYSO.