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Eastern Michigan University sues faculty union over strike

people striking
Eastern Michigan University is suing the faculty union whose members voted to strike Tuesday night. (Bridge photo by Isabel Lohman)
  • The university is suing the faculty union over strike
  • In a court filing, the university said the strike could prolong students’ education and lead to a loss of revenue and reputation for the students and the school
  • Union members voted to strike Tuesday in part because of health care costs

Sept. 12: Eastern Michigan University, faculty union reach deal to end strike

Eastern Michigan University is asking a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order faculty back to work after the faculty union voted to strike Tuesday evening.

EMU filed the lawsuit on Wednesday. The EMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (EMU-AAUP) contends the university is dragging its feet on negotiations, while the university said the strike disrupts students’ education.

The university announced its filing around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.

In a statement, ​the union said it would file a “forceful response.”

Related: Eastern Michigan faculty strike disrupts second week of classes

“Our strike against the EMU administration’s repeated, illegal, unfair labor practices will be settled at the bargaining table, not in a courtroom,” said union President Mohamed El-Sayed, a professor of engineering at EMU. “Instead of filing lawsuits, which have no merit. EMU administrators should focus their efforts on good-faith bargaining so we can reach a fair agreement which supports our students.”

On Wednesday morning, about 40 union members marched in a picket line in front of Welch Hall, across from the Ypsilanti Water Tower, while about a dozen people stood by in support of the initiative. The union has 517 members. One key point of contention is how much employees should pay for health care. 

people marching
Striking faculty union members picketed on campus Wednesday morning. (Bridge photo by Isabel Lohman)

The university’s court filing claims the strike is illegal and harmful to students. 

“This strike is causing and will cause EMU permanent and irreparable injuries for which there is no adequate remedy at law,” the complaint states. It also alleges other adverse effects, including:

  • “Hindering, altering, and delaying the academic profess of EMU’s over 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students which could ultimately result in delayed graduation”
  • Delaying financial aid disbursement
  • Possible loss of state, regional and national accreditations 
  • Loss of reputation that “could lead to enrollment decline” 
  • Increased anxiety amongst students with uncertainty about schedules
  • Inability to provide timely mental health services and fill-instructors for student disability accommodation requests 
  • “Unavailability of faculty advisors to over 200 student groups”
  • Lost of tuition, room and board revenue

In response, El-Sayed said, “Filing an unsupported lawsuit that attempts to force our members back to work against their will does not move us forward one inch.”

He said the union negotiating team is meeting with university officials and is “available today and every day to find common ground, settle this dispute and move our University forward.”

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