Eastern Michigan University faculty vote to strike

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The Eastern Michigan University faculty union voted Tuesday night to strike as contract talks stalled, the union announced Tuesday night. The strike, which was authorized by 91% of faculty members present, will begin on Wednesday.

“Our message to EMU students, parents and alumni is simple: EMU faculty stand up for you and for a quality education,” said Matt Kirkpatrick, associate professor of English language and literature at EMU and Chairman of the EMU-AAUP Negotiating Team, in “But the EMU administration has let you down, raising its own salaries while trying to cut our pay, and repeatedly failing to bargain in good faith .”

School administrators said students should “show up for class as scheduled and wait at least 15 minutes to determine if their instructor will teach,” school spokesman Walter Kraft said. “Students can also contact their instructors in advance to determine if classes will take place.”

The school said the faculty were giving up on the students.

“It is regrettable that instead of continuing to follow the path of the mediator, while active negotiations are still underway, the teachers’ union is asking its members to stand down and disrupt the education of students only seven days after the start of the semester,” Kraft said in a press release late Tuesday night. “In addition to mediation, the University has requested a state-appointed independent investigation in a further effort to reach a resolution with the union. Rather than allow these processes to continue without affecting students, the union teachers went to the extreme measure of calling a strike.

“We understand the union’s frustration at being asked to share more of the rising costs of providing health care to employees and families. But there are very few employers and employees in the United States, or among this university’s other bargaining units, who haven’t had to make similar adjustments to health care costs.

The union has over 500 members. He has been without a contract since August 31. He agreed to continue working while negotiations were underway, but union leaders said there had not been enough progress.

“It is truly unfortunate that the failure of the EMU administration at the negotiating table is causing delays and disruptions for our students,” said Mohamed El-Sayed, EMU engineering professor and president of the UEM-AAUP, in a press release. “We won’t be in our classrooms tomorrow, but our bargaining team will be at the bargaining table. We are looking for solutions that support our students and set the stage for quality EMU education in the long term.

The biggest differences between the two sides relate to salaries and health care, with the administration proposing increased health care costs for faculty members. The union proposed smaller increases for faculty than for administration.

“We understand the union’s frustration at being asked to share more of the rising costs of providing health care to employees and families,” Kraft said in its press release ahead of the strike vote. “But there are very few employers and employees in the United States, or among other bargaining units at this university, who haven’t had to make similar adjustments to health care costs.”

The union has another point of view.

“Our goal remains a fair settlement, but unfortunately the EMU administration is throwing every possible obstacle in the way of a new labor agreement,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement announcing the strike vote on Sunday. “Here’s a fact: less is not more. The EMU cannot claim to offer us a ‘raise’ in pay when their proposal to massively increase health care costs will result in a pay cut for many members. If the administrators – who raised their own salaries – think we deserve a pay cut, they should at least be honest about it.

Eastern faculty has a history of strikes. Teachers picketed in 2000, 2004 and 2006. The 2006 strike lasted two weeks before the parties reached an agreement. In 2010, teachers came within hours of a strike vote before reaching an agreement on a new contract.

Other universities in Michigan also experienced strikes. In 2011, professors at Central Michigan University went on strike for a day before a judge ordered them back into classrooms.

In 2009, professors at Oakland University went on strike for a week before reaching an agreement.

Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj. Subscribe to the Detroit Free Press.


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