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Published: Thursday, 10/7/2004

Faculty contract talks stall at Owens

Negotiations between Owens Community College administrators and faculty members are expected to head directly to a fact-finder and bypass any future bargaining sessions, a college official said yesterday.

But union leaders said they still plan to be at the bargaining table tomorrow.

Gary Dettling, vice president of college advancement, said the college's negotiating team asked members of the Owens Faculty Association, Local 4670, to extend a fact-finding deadline so the parties could continue to mutually bargain. He said the college saw no benefit to continuing negotiations so close to the deadline.

The union president, Angela Ondrus, said the union declined the request, having extended the deadline once before at the college's request.

Involved parties spent four days last week and the afternoon and evening on Tuesday trying to work out a new contract. A previous contract with the 240 union members, who work at campuses in Perrysburg Township and Findlay, expired in February.

Mr. Dettling said the college and the union agreed previously to a fact-finder. The State Employee Relations Board said Lou Thomson, Jr., of Toledo has been appointed the fact-finder for the case.

It will be Mr. Thomson's job to review any outstanding contract-related issues and formulate a recommendation on the items, which the union and the college's board of trustees will vote to accept or reject.

The fact-finding process is expected to begin on Tuesday, with a hearing at which Mr. Thomson will begin to review reports from both sides.

Under Ohio law, the union, which already has taken a strike vote, can't strike unless three-fifths of its membership first votes to reject the fact-finder's recommendation. Or, the union could strike if the college trustees vote to reject the fact-finder's recommendations, also by a three-fifths vote. If either scenario were to occur, the faculty union then would need to file a 10-day strike notice with SERB.

Issues key to the negotiations include benefits, wages, and a proposed salary-range classification.

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