Updated Financial Analysis of Oakland University - May 13, 2015
As always when we head into bargaining, we commissioned Rudy Fichtenbaum (professor of economics at Wright State University and current President of the AAUP) to update his previous analyses of Oakland's financial condition. His full report is available here and concludes that "the University's financial condition has remained stable and it remains in excellent financial condition."
The Realities of Public Sector Negotiating in MI - May 1, 2015
In a perfect world, negotiations take place between equals. Each side offers and withholds what they bring to the potential deal as they see fit, can make and accept offers based on their best interests and the interest of a continuing relationship with the other party. Neither side can be forced into a contract or have a settlement imposed on it.
But it is not a perfect world.
Both Oakland and the faculty bring to the negotiations enormous value. Oakland controls all of the resources of the university - money for salaries, benefits, supplies, travel, etc.; allocation of space for academic purposes; number and distribution of faculty and non-faculty positions; even tenure and other forms of job security. The faculty offer their labor - their knowledge and their skill to teach and generate new knowledge - in order to carry out the mission of the university. In an atmosphere of mutual respect, the negotiations are always off to a good start.
It is in the end game of the negotiations, however, that real world is revealed. Oakland is never obligated to make any offers they disagree with and can legally impose a contract on the faculty if agreement cannot be reached through negotiations. On the other hand, the faculty cannot legally withhold their labor from the university and therefore has little leverage within the negotiations to move Oakland in any direction they do not choose to move. These are the realities of labor negotiations in Michigan for public employees.
Keep these two simple statements in mind as we move through the summer: The Agreement contains only provisions that Oakland has chosen to offer to the faculty. Each offer from Oakland is a demonstration of how much Oakland values the work of the faculty and respects the faculty as people.