Eastern Michigan University faculty union approves new contract
- Members of the EMU faculty union voted to approve a tentative employment contract with the university
- Its members’ strike earlier this month disrupted classes for three days
- The EMU Board of Regents will need to vote to approve the contract
The Eastern Michigan University union representing faculty members has overwhelmingly ratified a new employment agreement with the university following a strike that temporarily disrupted classes this month.
The new contract includes pay raises and employee savings on health care costs for the union’s over 500 tenured and tenure-track faculty members, according to the EMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
Ninety six percent of members ratified the agreement, in voting that ran through last Friday, the union announced. The university’s Board of Regents still needs to approve the agreement, with a vote anticipated in the near future.
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“Our negotiating team listened closely to our members throughout this process,” said Matt Kirkpatrick, associate professor of English language and literature at EMU and chair of the union’s negotiating team. “Our goal was to bring back an agreement to address concerns we heard about supporting our students, fair compensation and creating a foundation for continued quality education at EMU. I think the results of this ratification vote show that we achieved our goal.”
This agreement was formed after the union went on strike for three school days during the second week of classes in early September. Later, the union and university announced a tentative agreement and faculty returned to classrooms.
“Contract negotiations of this nature are complex and challenging,” EMU director of media relations Melissa Thrasher said in a statement. “The administration is pleased with the terms of the tentative agreement and greatly supports the University's outstanding faculty and their work in the classroom to support our students.”
The university had filed a lawsuit against the union when faculty members refused to teach classes, asking a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order faculty back to work. EMU spokesperson Walter Kraft told Bridge earlier this month the university intends to drop the lawsuit.
The agreement includes several benefits to employees, according to the union:
- Pay raises during the first three years of the contract, including a $4,000 raise in base pay or four percent, whichever is greater, in the first year of the agreement. During the second and third years, there would be 3.25 percent base pay raises.
- An agreement to reconsider wage levels in year four in the event of continued high inflation
- An increase in retirement contributions as a result of the pay increases
- An option for a zero-cost HMO insurance plan. The union estimates a participating faculty member could save over $3,000 a year if they switch from a PPO to a zero-cost HMO health care coverage.
- A salary equity study with faculty input will be completed and there will be a joint committee to examine student evaluation documents with the “goal of eliminating implicit and explicit bias against” Black, Indigienous, people of color, female and LGBTQ+ faculty.
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