Cincinnati State strike continues, students frustrated

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Faculty at Cincinnati State plan to go back to work on Friday, even if an agreement is not reached.

About 200 members of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) went on strike on Friday, Sept. 23, saying the workload the administration wants them to take on next fall will compromise the quality of education students receive.

School administrators said other staff members and adjunct faculty members are covering about 80% of the classes.

"Approximately 200 out of 784 faculty members have chosen to go on strike. The rest of Cincinnati State's faculty is expected to remain on the job, teaching in classrooms. Nothing will change in those classes," said Cathy Crain, chair of the Board of Trustees.

Several students say they are frustrated by the substitutes, and in some cases, there are no substitutes at all.  Felicia Rosenberger drove to the Clifton campus from Brookville, Indiana, after getting a sitter to watch her two children, because she said she received an email telling her attendance would be taken, and class materials handed out.

"I drove all the way here for them to tell me to go home. Class was cancelled," she said.

Students packed a Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for 3:45 Tuesday.  They were given 15 minutes to address the board, and one of those who spoke was Doris Meadows.  She dropped out of high school years ago, and just last year got her GED.  She said she is succeeding in her classes now because of a wonderful teacher, and she wants him back.

"Where is my teacher? I went to class this morning and there was no one there to even sign me in the class," she said. "They had a piece of paper in there. I signed my name and at 8:05 I walked out of that class - that is not fair to me."

"My 9 o'clock Clinical Lab class had no teacher and no substitute," said student Belinda Bay. "We went to the office to ask what was going to happen and they told us to go home."

All student service areas including the Advising and Counseling Center, Admission, Financial Aid, Office of the Registrar, Student Activities, Veterans Affairs, International Student Services, Disability Services, and College Access programs will be open and continue serving students during their regular business hours.  The Writing Center and The Success Center Main and Annex will be open during their regular operational hours.

Cincinnati State's new President, Dr. O'Dell Owens addressed students at the board meeting.

"I really appreciate how much you care about your faculty, and we do too. And we're going to work to resolve this," he said.

Pam Ecker, a 25 year teaching veteran of the college,said there are standards in place across Ohio and the country, that address the workload for full time faculty.  She said the teachers are willing to go a bit above that standard, which is teaching 5 classes per semester, but that the college is asking for them to teach a minimum of 6.  That, she says, will stretch teachers too thinly to be able to give each class and its students the attention Cincinnati State is known to provide.

"For every one hour we spend in a classroom or lab, we've got 2, 3, 4 hours preparing, grading, getting things ready, incorporating new material, and that doesn't even start to get into how students expect to be able to communicate with their instructors all the time (via email and cell phone)," said Ecker.

The union says it is up to the administration to bring the parties back to the bargaining table.

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