Central State Must Ante-Up for Faculty

Wilberforce, Ohio

The administration claimed at a fiscal and
political crisis left it with no choice but to take the actions it did.
However, the Central State University (CSU) faculty union has won a
series of legal victories over the past few weeks that could pose new
financial problems for the state’s only historically Black institution
of higher education.

The issues of contention, which were settled by binding
arbitration, involved salaries and layoffs. Although administrators
said they are still assessing the potential cost of the decisions, CSU
President John Garland acknowledged that there is not enough money in
the university’s $24.4 million annual operating budget to pay the back
salary and other awards prescribed by the arbitrators.

But Garland has approached officials from the American Association
of University Professors (AAUP) and assured them that he will explore
other avenues to try to find the funds to resolve the cases.

In a separate case, the CSU chapter of the AAUP won an Ohio Supreme
Court decision declaring unconstitutional a state law that dictated
faculty workload.

Robert Marcus, president of CSU’s faculty union, said the
arbitrators’ decisions regarding faculty pay and layoffs “enforce our
contract, and that’s what was important.”

The contract between CSU’s faculty union and the university calls
for unresolved grievances to be decided by binding arbitration.

In one case, arbitrator Michael Paolucci ruled that eighteen former
Central State faculty members who were laid off during a financial
crunch in the summer of 1997 are entitled to as much as thirteen months
back pay because the university violated a collective-bargaining
contract when it terminated them. Paolucci did not order the university
to reinstate the laid-off faculty members, and he ruled that the amount
of back pay they received should be reduced by the amount they earned
in other jobs between August 1, 1997, and September 1, 1998.

CSU officials told Paolucci that they were trying to comply with a
state law that required them to reduce faculty to “appropriate” levels
to correspond to a declining enrollment.

Garland, who had not yet been hired when the layoffs notices were
given in July 1997, said the financial impact of complying with the
decision could not be immediately determined until the university finds
out how much laid-off faculty earned elsewhere. The combined annual
salaries of the eighteen laid-off faculty members is approximately
$740,000.

Another arbitrator’s ruling ordered the university to restore a pay
cut of 3 percent to 8 percent that took effect for all CSU employees,
including faculty, in early 1996. That pay cut was not phased out in
mid-1997, as was called for in a contract between the two sides.

CSU officials at the time told faculty members that the school did
not have the money to restore the salary cuts. Additionally, the
officials explained that they were not required to do so because the
university’s board of trustees had declared the school to be in a
“state of fiscal exigency,” or financial crisis.

Garland said this ruling could cost the university an estimated
$500,000. The president said CSU has “not received adequate funding …
to pay for this decision from the arbitrator.”

Another arbitration ruling ordered CSU to restore faculty pay
raises that were negotiated and agreed upon but put on hold
indefinitely in the midst of the fiscal crisis.

Some administration officials have wondered whether the faculty
union would be willing to negotiate a settlement that would reduce the
impact on the school’s budget. However, Marcus said that would be for
the AAUP members to decide.

Marcus also noted that the contracts involving salaries were
negotiated with representatives of the Ohio Attorney General’s office
and other state officials, not just CSU administrators. And, the AAUP
president said, everyone involved had complete understanding of the
university’s finances at the time the contracts were signed.

Marcus stressed that the salary and layoff disputes stemmed from actions taken prior to Garland’s arrival in September.

RELATED ARTICLE: Ohio Court Strikes Down Faculty Workload Requirements

WILBERFORCE, Ohio — While Central State University’s chapter of
the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was winning
arbitration cases against CSU’s administration, it also was winning an
Ohio Supreme Court case that affected public colleges throughout the
state.

On September 30, the seven-member panel, by a 4-3 vote, declared
unconstitutional a state law specifying the minimum faculty workload at
Ohio’s state-supported colleges and universities. The court ruled in
favor of CSU’s faculty union, that had challenged the 1993 law which
removed faculty workload requirements from the list of subjects that
could be determined through collective bargaining.

Central State’s AAUP chapter had a contract in place that specified
faculty workloads when the law took effect. However, CSU’s
administration adopted a faculty workload policy consistent with the
new law in 1994. The administration then notified the faculty union
that it would not negotiate on that issue because of the wording of the
law. The AAUP challenged that decision in state court.

The Ohio Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Alice Robie
Resnick, said the court “cannot find any rational basis for singling
out university faculty members as the only public employees …
precluded from bargaining over their workload.”

Resnick also said she found no relation between collective
bargaining and a decline in teaching. The law was ruled
unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clauses of
the Ohio and United States constitutions because it did not involve a
legitimate public interest.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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