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Wayne State President's Union Contract Defense Falls Flat

If eight years is good, why not a 20-year union contract?

Wayne State University President Allan Gilmour says it’s the union’s way or it’s the highway.

When asked Tuesday if he thought an unprecedented eight-year union contract that was written to circumvent the state’s right-to-work law would make it difficult to recruit faculty, he said those who didn’t like it had an option: “They can always quit.” 

The arrogance of that statement is astounding. The retiring president of the state’s third-largest university told faculty members who may not agree with the union’s policies or its politics that it will be almost a decade before they can exercise their rights granted by the state’s new right-to-work law.

And, he’s telling potential faculty members who could elevate the university’s status locally and nationally that if they want to work for Wayne State their future will be overseen by a division of the American Federation of Teachers until 2021.

Gilmour’s statement is surprising only in that he had the gall to make it publicly and then try and defend it. But it followed other arrogant comments he made earlier in the day in testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee. Gilmour told legislators to trust him because he said he got good concessions in return for the long-term deal.

Taxpayers, however, know better than to believe bureaucrats who say, “trust me.”

Gilmour, who makes $400,000 a year and is tasked with doing what’s best with the tax dollars that pay the university’s salaries and bills, said the contract provides cost certainty. In some respects, it does. According to The Detroit News, a professor who makes $75,000 a year will get a 19 percent increase in salary over the eight years.  

Taxpayers footing that bill would like to have that kind of certainty.

But if it was all about certainty, why not a 20-year deal? How about 100 years? Why didn’t the university negotiate decade-long deals before?

The answer is obvious: Because neither the union, nor the administration wanted to lock themselves into lengthy contracts because there are too many fluid circumstances with the economy, with enrollment, with federal dollars and with state appropriations.

Gilmour soon will exit Wayne State and the long-term deal he endorsed. His successor, taxpayers and faculty members who think they are able to determine what’s best for themselves and their paychecks, however, are stuck on a road to nowhere.

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See also:

Wayne State University: We Got A Deal; Take Our Word For It

Universities Dodging Right-to-Work Law Under Scrutiny

Taylor School Board Approves Contract Forcing Teachers To Pay Union

School District Reaches Five-Year Contract Preventing Teachers From Leaving the Union

Berkley Schools Union Proposes 9-Year Contract To Prevent Members From Exercising Right To Not Pay Dues

Western Michigan University Union Wants Contract Through 2023 To Avoid Right-to-Work Law