We deserve a say in how our money is spent

To the editor,

I have spent the past thirty years working at Ferris as a professor in the Humanities Department and I would like to explain my concern with the contract negotiations.

I have said consistently that it is not the money, at least for me. I make enough money to live. I’m 71, I can retire and still have enough money, but this is a sham negotiation. It is a negotiation designed to infuriate the faculty. The goal is to bust the union. Here is how you do it. You demonstrate to the faculty that their union is useless and cannot bargain for them. Faculty don’t have to pay union dues so slowly union membership falls off and before you know it, the faculty have no voice and you’re free to do whatever you like.

Once upon a time, the union would negotiate with the administration. I son’t see the administration as my enemy, but the President is squandering money that could have been plowed back into our endeavors. This money came from student tuition and it is an outrage that so much has been spent on outside attorney’s when the administration is fully capable of negotiating with the faculty. How much has been spent? $300,000 or $500,000 — what kind of numbers are these for a small institution such as ours. We could have settled the contract with far less than has been spent on attorneys.

Everyone understands the math. Every year, our out-of-pocket health care costs go up. I should say that I have pay stubs from ten years ago and my take-home disposable income has gone up by $100 and for that, I have the Republicans to thank. Over the past ten years, my salary has increased substantially, but inflation and health care have kept my disposable income the same. I don’t mind. It is enough. My salary has kept pace with rising costs. But from here on out, my disposable income will decline each year. That is not a real problem for me. I only have a few more years and my income is enough for my needs.

I’m one of three senior history professors — all of whom will be retiring soon. How are we going to find young scholars to replace us? How many young scholars are going to want to take a position where their disposable income will decline every year?

Finally, those hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on lawyers belongs here in Big Rapids, not in Detroit. It is our money he is spending. Yours and mine. We deserve a say in how it is spent.

Barry Mehler

Big Rapids

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