Southern State Faculty Ready To Strike!

Southern State Union sends ESEA missive from front line; obstinate Trustees frustrating good relations between faculty & administration. John Davidson of Southern State reports:

We have now worked about 400 days without a contract. The hold-up is over health insurance. We have a signed tentative agreement with the Board from last December and they persistently renege on it. This would cost us about $1,000 a year if we agree to the Board's proposal. Since we are effectively negotiating for all employees of the college on health insurance, this would be a huge blow to low paid staff members if we agreed.

Our college is flush with cash. This impasse is all about two or three strong personalities on the Board determined to beat us. Our opinion is that it's personal with these people, partly because one of our faculty keeps running for state rep against their candidate. We believe they have spent more on lawyer's fees than it would have taken to agree to the original tentative agreement. Apparently, they think they can break the union, also.

We have three new Board members from the opposite party and we anticipate that they will undermine support for continuing the Board's action. One of these guys is the secretary for the regional postal union, obviously a good sign.

Our faculty met with an OEA lawyer in order to come up to speed on strikes. We have decided on the following action:
  • All full-time faculty will teach their minimum loads--no overloads--for winter quarter pending a settlement of the contract. Many of these classes will not be able to be staffed. Our vote was 48 - 0 and no one reneged on their commitment, a very strong union statement.
  • Friday, same day as your meeting, we will decide whether to work to the contract on committee assignments. If so, we will serve on crucial committees such as curriculum and student appeals, but choose other duties instead of serving on remaining committees. This one especially involves me since I am an area coordinator and may have an obligation to attend some meetings.
  • We have initiated strike preparations. The clock is ticking, but a strike vote is months away.
Our vote of no confidence in the Board chairman was circulated as a press release in the media and did receive fair reporting locally. It was a powerful statement, but the guy ignored us and still serves on the Board. The governor and the chancellor stayed out of it. Hundreds of students sent a petition asking for an apology, and he ignored that also.

Our unfair labor practice suit was dismissed by the state labor board. Maybe we're too small to be important.

We have no complaint against our administration. They want to settle the contract immediately. Their success may depend on making a strong case that a couple of Board members are making it difficult to run the college effectively.

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