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EMU faculty labor contract to be ratified tonight

Halle Library on the Eastern Michigan University campus.
Josh Hakala
89.1 WEMU
Halle Library on the Eastern Michigan University campus.

The union for tenured and tenure-track faculty at Eastern Michigan University will be counting votes tonight to ratify a new labor contract.

The EMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors negotiated a four-year deal with the administration. This includes a 4% base pay increase in the first year. Year two and three will feature a 3.25% increase.

There will be a salary re-opener in year four, allowing for negotiations to begin for the next contract.

Health insurance benefits were a major sticking point in the negotiations.

In the end, the AAUP will receive the same benefits the administration and other university unions get.

Matt Kirkpatrick was the union’s lead negotiator.

“Despite all the contention, I think at the end of the day, it’s clear to me that we just want a better university, right? And of course, how you get there, there are some differences along the way, but I was amazed at the support of my colleagues.”

The deadline for voting is 8 p.m. tonight, and once the votes are counted, the contract is expected to be ratified.

UPDATE: Contract has been ratified. Below is a press release.


Significant gains in salary, retirement and health care protections after three-day strike

YPSILANTI, Michigan – Members of the Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (EMU-AAUP) have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new four-year labor agreement which includes significant gains in salary and retirement as well as protections for health care coverage.

Voting on the agreement, by secure email, began following a Tuesday September 20th union meeting and concluded today. Ninety-six percent of EMU-AAUP members voted in favor of ratification, with four percent voting against.

“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 EMU-AAUP 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.”

The new four-year agreement, which will cover more than 500 tenured and tenure track faculty at EMU, was reached after a three-day strike on the EMU campus earlier this month. It includes pay raises of $4,000 in base pay or four percent in the first of the agreement, whichever is greater, as well as 3.25% base pay increases in the second and third year of the agreement.

The parties agreed on a wage re-opener in the fourth year of the agreement, to protect EMU-AAUP members in the event of continued high inflation. Employer contributions to retirement, at 11 percent of salary, will increase as a result of the pay increases in the agreement.

The new contract also provides that EMU faculty will receive the same health care options as administrators and other groups on campus, with health care premiums based on an 80/20 cost-sharing model. A zero-cost HMO program could save participating faculty up over $3,000 a year for family coverage and dental coverage will increase to $1,500 per participant.

The tentative agreement will strengthen EMU’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and also address faculty concerns about shared governance.

“It was really impressive to see our members stick together, and all the tremendous support we received from students and the campus community,” said Mohamed El-Sayed, professor of engineering at EMU and president of EMU-AAUP. “Our focus now is working together with our students and the administration, so that everyone has access to the great education they deserve here at EMU.”

The university also released the following statement:

Contract negotiations of this nature are complex and challenging. 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 next step is for the University's Board of Regents to review and vote on the agreement before it is finalized. A date for that action has not yet been established but is expected in the near future.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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