YPSILANTI, Mich. (WXYZ) — Eastern Michigan University is down 500 faculty members Tuesday night after both professors and other university employees voted to strike after rejecting the school’s latest contract offer.
Professors will be on campus picketing first thing Wednesday morning. The university is advising students to go to class, but whether they'll be getting any instruction is still up in the air.
“I mean for students, what are we going to do about classes tuition and everything like that,” Antrunika Alonzo said.
Alonzo, a graduate student, is torn. She values every lesson, but if professors aren't showing up to class, she can't help but have questions.
“It kind of makes me wonder about how the university values the staff and faculty if they aren't getting paid what they are putting in for our education,” she said.
Five hundred faculty members have rejected a 15.2% pay raise over five years.
Professor Matt Kirkpatrick is surprised no one has been able to meet in the middle.
"It is not what we wanted. It's not what anyone wants. But hopefully, it will come to a quick resolution," Kirkpatrick said.
The university says the move to strike is disappointing, especially since school has only been in session a week.
"We think we made them a very fair offer. Most people aren't getting a 6.2% pay increase this year, and we tried to do everything we can to be fair to them," Walter Kraft, EMU's vice president of communications, said.
Kraft says the university isn’t exactly sure how the environment will be on campus after the vote to strike.
“We are going to advise students to go to class and if they don't see a teacher within 15 minutes, we will make other arrangements."
“I know there is a lot of teachers, so it must be a big problem. So hopefully, they fix by the end of the week so I don't have to miss class," EMU freshman Brendan Moore said.
In addition to mediation, the university has filed for state-appointed independent fact finding. The mediator has scheduled the next joint bargaining for 10 a.m. Wednesday.