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University Of Akron Faculty Union Rejects Contract

The University of Akron's faculty union rejected a contract that included massive faculty layoffs. [Mark Arehart / WKSU
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Updated: 4:43 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020

The  University of Akron’s  faculty union  rejected a contract that included concessions and layoffs.

Out of 343 votes cast, those against outnumbered those for by just 25 votes.

Union leaders recommended members turn down the deal because proposed faculty layoffs did not put academics or student needs first, said Faculty Union President Pam Schulze. The layoffs eliminated the protections of tenure and the 96 union faculty who were to be cut got no explanation why.

“Our main goal was to try to avoid the loss of faculty jobs and cuts that would hurt the academic mission of the university,” Schulze said.

The union understood the need for temporary concessions to counteract the pandemic’s impact, Schulze said, but the proposed layoffs were permanent and dramatic.

“I just think there needs to be an appreciation just for that,” Schulze said. “That you’re destroying people’s livelihoods, and their lives, with this decision.”

Schulze said she would like to return to the negotiating table. If that doesn’t happen, a third-party arbitrator will be left with the decision.

“We’re preparing our briefs, just like the administration, for the arbitrator,” Schulze said.

University President Gary Miller said in a press release he was disappointed in the vote and that it does not change the university’s financial situation.

In May, the board of trustees approved  a series of drastic cost-cutting measures, including eliminating six of its 11 colleges and a major campus restructuring plan.

Last month,  The University of Akron Board of Trustees unanimously approved a measure to reduce 178 union and non-union faculty and staff positions and the voluntary retirement of another 64 university employees.

ideastream's Taylor Haggerty contributed to this report.

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