Yesterday, adjunct lecturers and students joined together once again in an attempt to send a message to the administration at Eastern Michigan University.
Crowding into the hallway outside of President Martin’s office in Welch Hall, members of the Adjunct Lecturers Organizing Committee, Students for an Ethical and Participatory Government and representatives from the American Federation of Teachers made it clear they weren’t going to let the issue slide.
“We urge president martin to set a meeting date with us to establish a bargaining unit definition so we can have an election and choose for ourselves whether to unionize,” said EMU mathematics lecturer Paul Horvath.
The group rallied outside the president’s office all day yesterday. Their goal was to get Martin and the university to set an appointment to meet and discuss the ALOC’s bid to be recognized as a union and have more control over the issues surrounding their jobs and working environment.
By the time this article went to press the group had not been given a firm date for a formal discussion, but both President Martin and Provost Jack Kay came out of their offices to talk to those assembled, which brings them one step closer to formal discussions.
Until those occur, the group remains steadfast and resilient in their mission to be recognized by EMU.
“You can tell a lot about someone as to how they treat their employees,” said Horvath. “The way that we’re treated is directly reflected in the way that the students are treated. And, typically, students are at the bottom of the totem pole and we have a lot of support from them because we’re also in a very similar position: both of us work part-time, both of us really just are getting what we can from the university while we’re here.”
Since mid-February the ALOC has grown more visible on campus with protest marches, rallies and now a sit-in reaffirming the group’s commitment to their cause while getting the word out to the rest of the campus community.
“Today was about people from all avenues in the university coming together and acting as a community to make the establishment a better place for everyone,” said Kassey David, a SEPE member and senior philosophy student at EMU.
According to AFT Union Organizer Greg Pratt, almost a third of the contact hours between students and instructors at EMU are from adjunct lecturers.
“So when that group of folks are not supported well by the university, I think that kind of brings into question the mission of Eastern Michigan University as having this ‘Education First’ motto,” said Pratt.
“It’s difficult to say ‘Education First’ if almost 40 percent of your employees don’t have basic needs, like health care,” added Horvath, who in addition to lecturing also manages student rental property in Ann Arbor.
“How can we teach well if we have nagging doubts about what we’re going to be teaching next term, who we’re going to be teaching it to? By addressing the standard of living of the employees you can raise the level of education for everyone.”
The demonstration in Welch will continue today, and anyone sympathetic to the cause is invited to come show their support for EMU’s lecturers and students.