Representatives of Ferris State University and the Ferris Faculty Association continued to meet with the state mediator throughout Friday, Aug. 24. No settlement was reached. The FFA terminated the negotiations at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The FFA refused to bargain on Saturday, Aug. 25 and plans to take a strike vote on Saturday afternoon. Negotiations are scheduled to convene again on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 10 a.m. The major outstanding issues continue to be compensation and university contributions to health care benefits.
Because bargaining and mediation have not resulted in a final agreement, representatives of Ferris State University filed a petition for fact finding with the State. Generally, following the filing of the petition requesting fact finding, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission will appoint a fact finder who will conduct a hearing regarding the facts in dispute. The hearing will permit the respective parties to present facts in support of their positions.
“The fact finder will issue written recommendations which are not binding on either party but are publicized. The parties are free to accept or reject the recommendations of the fact finder, but the report is generally of assistance for finding common ground for settlement,” said Steve Stratton, Director of Labor Relations.
Universities and colleges in Michigan are facing a long downward decline in the number of graduating high school students, and competition for students in this environment will only increase. The University must balance faculty interests with a challenging enrollment environment, the constrained financial resources of students and their families, and the increases granted to other employee groups.
“Ferris faculty are among the highest paid in the State of Michigan for like institutions, and the University’s economic proposal compares favorably to increases at these institutions,” said Paul Blake, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The University’s most recent proposal featured increases of approximately 2.25 percent each year for five years, plus increases in university contributions toward health insurance in each year of the proposed contract. The FFA has demanded a 6 percent salary increase each year for three years.