Labor negotiations between Ferris State University and the Ferris Faculty Association are continuing. With the assistance of State Mediator Fred Vocino, the parties met throughout the day on Thursday. Negotiations are continuing today, Aug. 24.
The parties have been in talks since May and are now entering a third day of mediation with classes set to commence on Monday, Aug. 27.
The negotiations have principally focused on economic issues with the Ferris Faculty Association seeking pay raises of 6 percent a year for each of the next three years. The University has offered pay raises of 1.5 percent for each of the next five years, plus annual supplemental market adjustments totaling $300,000 (.76 percent) per year for an average total compensation package exceeding 2.25 percent per year.
“This is highly competitive with other settlements throughout the state, particularly given the economic pressures created by declining numbers of students pursuing a higher education,” said Steve Stratton, the University’s Director of Labor Relations. “Ferris enjoys a unique place in higher education and has a talented faculty. We are comfortable that this will help us maintain our prominent standing. With the projected decline in high school graduates, the market is tightening. Universities are being forced to adjust staffing and budgets to keep higher education affordable for students and their families,” said Stratton.
“Ferris State University’s tuition, room and board, needs to be competitive. The debt incurred by our students is already among the highest in the state for public universities. This is one of the University’s greatest challenges. If the University was to agree to the Ferris Faculty Association’s demands for an annual 6 percent increase, the cost of tuition would go up approximately $1,560 (12 percent),” said Sally DePew, the University’s Budget Director, adding “This is obviously a burden we cannot ask our students to bear.”