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Published: Saturday, 10/4/2008

Rejection of fact finder's report stalls BGSU police contract

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - It's back to the negotiating table for Bowling Green State University and its police union after the university's board of trustees yesterday rejected a fact-finding report for a new contract.

Noting that it recognizes the need for an adjustment in pay rates, the trustees voted unanimously to reject the report because it could not approve the 19 percent increase recommendation.

Wages have been the sticking point in negotiations, both sides said.

The union requested a more than 22 percent increase over three years; the university proposed a more than 9 percent increase during that period, said Rebecca Ferguson, the university's assistant vice president for human resources. "Everything else up to the money has been very positive," she said.

The two sides have reached agreement on a new scheduling system, creating another level of radio dispatchers to allow for promotion, and other noneconomic contract changes, she said.

BGSU police Officer Jeremy Davies, president of Local 103 of the International Union of Police Associations, said tentative agreements have been reached for everything except wages.

"The union's only objective is to get a fair and equitable wage increase for our members who are at an unacceptable low level of compensation compared to other state universities across Ohio," he said.

The union contends its average pay for police officers of $19.16 an hour and $15.13 an hour for dispatchers is the lowest in the state.

The university disagrees and said it has not had difficulty attracting police officers at its beginning wage.

The police union, which is the only union at BGSU, has 23 members.

The previous three-year contract expired April 27 and union members continue to operate under that agreement until a new one is reached.

The two sides have been negotiating for about four months and went to the fact finder on Sept. 9. They received the fact finder's report on Wednesday.

The trustees yesterday also were updated on the search for a new president.

The 15-member president search committee, which was formed in June, is finalizing its presidential profile that details the opportunities for a presidential candidate at BGSU and also details what the university community wants in its next leader, said Bill Primrose, a BGSU trustee and chairman of the search committee.

That profile should be complete in the next two weeks, and then the university will advertise for applicants.

Mr. Primrose said 100 people are expected to apply for the presidency.

Witt/Kieffer, the search firm with which BGSU has contracted, will narrow the list to eight to 12 candidates for interviews early next year.

He said the hope is the search committee will narrow it to two to four finalists by late February. After on-campus interviews of the small group, it is hoped a new president will be selected by late March.

Ideally, the successor to Sidney Ribeau will be in place by the end of the spring semester, Mr. Primrose said.

Mr. Ribeau left BGSU in July after 13 years at the helm to become president of Howard University in Washington.

Carol Cartwright, former president of Kent State University, is serving as interim president of BGSU.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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