Ferris Board of Trustees Declines to Ratify Faculty Contract Proposal

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, Feb. 22, the Ferris State University Board of Trustees was presented with the results of a ratification vote by the Ferris Faculty Association on a proposed contract extension. After taking this under advisement, the Board voted not to ratify the proposal and issued the following statement:

“Today the Board of Trustees was asked to ratify a proposal outlining the major elements of a collective bargaining agreement with the Ferris Faculty Association that would take the University through the 2017-18 academic year. The Board has voted not to ratify this proposal. There are two major reasons for this. 

“First, the Board supports an environment where individual Ferris faculty members have the ability to choose the ways in which, and the level to which, they support those who bargain on their behalf. This is the intent of recently passed state law, and the proposal in front of us would have curtailed this right. With the willing support of the faculty, the Ferris Faculty Association will provide effective and responsive advocacy for its members.

“Second, the Board of Trustees has a fiduciary responsibility to the University and its students.  The Board has concerns that approving this proposal could have significant consequences that negatively impact the university’s fiscal position, and ultimately our students.

“The Board supports a collective bargaining process resulting in agreement with our faculty. We will address both of these elements – faculty rights and our responsibility to our students – when the University takes up the task of forging an agreement in the best interests of our faculty, our students, and the families of students who sacrifice to make their education possible.”

The FFA first put forward a proposal to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by two years during the Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 15, 2012. The University and the FFA subsequently discussed ways in which the existing contract might be amended. 

The resulting proposal would have required Ferris faculty members to remain dues-paying members of the FFA.

Faced with ratifying a proposal that included extending the union security clause, and with concerns about possible financial consequences, the Board felt that it should comply with the spirit of the new law. The university informed the leadership of the FFA in early February that the board would not support a proposal limiting faculty rights. The FFA chose to move forward with a ratification vote. 

In describing the action of the Board of Trustees, Chairman Gary Granger said, “The Board considered this proposal very carefully. A compelling factor was a desire to follow newly passed legislation. Further, in the timeframe available to us, we could not determine the potential financial consequences of accepting this proposal. This is an unacceptable risk for our university, its faculty, staff and students.”

The current contract between the University and the FFA runs through June 30, 2013. The University is committed to reaching a fair and equitable contract agreement before that date.

Last updated: 08-15-2013