FFA members to share their thoughts in Ferris leadership

Members of the Ferris Faculty Association march across Ferris State University’s campus on the first day of the fall semester. On Tuesday and Wednesday, FFA members can consider participating in a vote of no confidence against President David Eisler. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Members of Ferris State University’s faculty association will spend the next two days considering a vote of no confidence in the leadership at the college.

As part of the collective involvement in ongoing negotiations for a new contract, to replace the one that expired June 30 of this year, members of the Ferris Faculty Association will spend today, Tuesday, and Wednesday voicing their opinions of President David Eisler in a vote of no confidence, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at multiple locations across campus.

“The vote is the faculty expressing their lack of confidence in President Eisler’s leadership,” said FFA President Charles Bacon. “This is a continuing expression of our disappointment in not having a contract.

“Administration is not dealing with faculty in a respectful manner. It’s not a good thing if the faculty does not have faith in the leadership any longer.”

The approximately 450 tenure-track faculty members currently working without a contract can share their votes at the Arts and Sciences Building lobby, Michigan College of Optometry lobby, Interdisciplinary Resource Center (IRC)/College of Business Connector and the University Center lobby.

Votes, which will have no legal ramification, will be tallied after the completion of voting on Wednesday.

“The vote of no confidence has been a method routinely employed by the FFA over the years to publicly voice their displeasure or dissatisfaction in the president’s leadership,” said Michelle Rasmussen, FSU communications officer. “They also are using this tactic in an attempt to pressure the university to give in to their demands.”

In ongoing negotiations, which entered a fact-finding period at the end of August, the FFA is proposing a three-year contract including a 2.75-percent salary increase each year; an increase in health care contributions to reach the hard cap maximum with retroactive payments for all of 2018 for those eligible; an additional 3-percent increase per year for ancillary medical benefits (dental, vision, etc.); an increase in overload pay from $85 to $95; and change the benefit plan year to Jan. 1, in lieu of July 1, according to a release from the university.

University administration is proposing a five-year contract, which would include a 2.25-percent salary increase each year for the first three years, followed by a 2.5-percent salary increase for years four and five; an increase in the university’s contributions to health care to the state’s hard cap maximum; an increase in ancillary medical benefits by 3 percent each year; an increase overload pay in year four of the contract to $90 and in year five to $95; and to change the benefit plan year to Jan. 1.

“As we have in the past, we are encouraging the FFA to come back to the bargaining table, to compromise and reach tentative agreement on a new contract,” Rasmussen said.

Without a set contract in place on the first day of the semester, members of the FFA went on strike and on, Sept. 12, hosted a sit in front of Eisler’s office.

“A president who forces you to a strike line so your voices can be heard is not a leader,” FFA Vice President John Caserta said in an email to his colleagues. “You have a collective responsibility to voice your disdain about Eisler’s failure to respect you and what you do for your students and the university. You have the collective obligation to speak up for all the other employees and staff who cannot speak up without reprisal and whose work Dave (Eisler) has failed to respect.”

The next step in the process of negotiating a contract for the FFA will be meeting with a mediator in the first week of October.

“The board is deeply disappointed in the recent lack of progress in the collective bargaining negotiations between the university and the Ferris Faculty Association,” said Paul Boyer, FSU Board of Trustees chairperson. “As a board, we remain firmly committed to Ferris State University, its students, its faculty, the leadership of President Eisler and his team, and above all, to serving the best interests of Ferris by encouraging both parties to return to the table now and bargain their way to a negotiated agreement.”

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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