FSU students caught in the middle of faculty contract negotiations

Posted at 6:15 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 18:15:36-04

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. -- After starting the semester on the picket line, several faculty members at Ferris State University are wrapping up two days of voting, concerning a "no confidence" motion against the school's president.

The move comes as contract negotiations continue between the school and faculty administration, leaving students stuck in the middle.

With wage increases often comes tuition hikes, and while many of the students FOX 17 spoke with want their professors to get fair pay, they also say they don't want their education interrupted by negotiations and that they want to continue to receive an affordable education.

For many students, the start of the semester included canceled classes and striking professors.

"I was really surprised and kind of bummed because I was like oh this is how like the first day is going to go," said freshman Darby Garland.

But with the administration and faculty members unable to reach a contract agreement, the strike was just the beginning of campus tension.

"They're wearing their pins still supporting but they just haven't been telling their opinion and views to the students," said junior Savanna Stout.

Though a judge ordered faculty members back to work, less than a month later the Ferris Faculty Association submitted two days of no confidence voting for president David Eisler stating in a press release that the he directed "bad faith" in the negotiating process.

"My very first class actually got canceled because of it; after that all my classes were fine. Contracts and funding, health care, compared to other other colleges it wasn't fai,  which is true. When you look into it like they signed something but there's been changes going around, it's not good," said freshman Joseph Mason.

The FFA is seeking pay hikes of 2.75 percent annual salary increase each year of the new contract, while the University is offering a 2.25 percent annual salary increase for the first three years of the contract and then 2.50 percent in the final two years of the contact.

Paying for that increase could mean higher tuition, keeping some students on the fence about the issue.

"With enrollment declining there's not the budget for the wages the faculty currently wants so, therefore, I understand the faculty's perspective but I also understand the teacher's perspective because they are educating the future of our country, the people who are going to be doing the future jobs in the world, so they do deserve better pay," says Student Government President Bobby Gill.

But a swift resolution is something students say they are certain about.

"I was hoping that the deal would be dealt with quickly just because again I just want to go to class," says Garland.

Results from the vote of no confidence will be tabulated this evening. The administration and faculty head back to the bargaining table Oct. 2 and Oct. 5