Contract deadline looms as EMU faculty picket ahead of Aug. 27 strike vote

Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-26 20:50:41-04

YPSILANTI, Mich. (WXYZ) — As students moved into their dorms ahead of the fall semester, members of Eastern Michigan University’s American Association of University Professors held an information picket Friday to shed light on failed contract negotiations with university administrators.

“Our goal is and always has been a fair settlement,” said Matt Kirkpatrick, an associate professor of English language and literature at EMU and chair of the EMU-AAUP negotiating team. “It’s time for the EMU administration to stop stalling and start bargaining in good faith, so we can work together to support our students and recognize the outstanding contributions of our faculty.”

More than 500 tenured and tenure track faculty are covered under the current contract, which is set to expire at midnight on Aug. 31 — two days after the fall semester is scheduled to begin. EMU-AAUP negotiators believe it is “highly unlikely” a new contract will be in place by the Aug. 31 deadline.

EMU administrators, EMU-AAUP says, have stalled negotiations by being non-responsive to faculty proposals during bargaining and after days of mediator-assisted meetings from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

"A key proposal from the EMU-AAUP bargaining team is a new, flexible method for scheduling summer classes that would result in more course offerings for students. Ensuring that required classes are available is an important element in an overall strategy to attract and retain more students at EMU," EMU-AAUP said. "The EMU administration has rejected the EMU-AAUP summer scheduling proposal. Additional outstanding issues include faculty compensation, health care coverage and full inclusion of faculty in university decision-making."

Eastern Michigan University addressed the negotiations on its website.

The university says it was prepared to meet with members of EMU-AAUP anytime and both organizations agreed to begin the bargaining process May 24. Eastern Michigan also says EMU-AAUP would only meet with them remotely and finally spoke in person after the university filed an unfair labor complaint.

"Both sides aren't always going to be happy, but we have to find a way to compromise," said Walter Craft, vice president of communications for the university.

On Aug. 27, EMU-AAUP members are expected to vote to inform the university of possible strike action. If a settlement is not reached, EMU-AAUP says a second vote by its members will be required to authorize a strike.