In a just-before midnight deal Sunday, the Eastern Michigan University faculty union and the university administration agreed on a contract plan that sent professors back to the classroom.
Faculty had staged pickets at the corners of campus and in front of Welch Hall since Thursday, Sept. 8, but the union continued negotiations with university officials through the weekend.
Just before midnight, the Eastern Michigan University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (EMU-AAUP) said a tentative agreement for a new contract had been reached. Strike activity was suspended and EMU-AAUP members returned to the classroom Monday, Sept. 12.
“Solidarity works,” said Mohamed El-Sayed, professor of engineering at EMU and president of the EMU-AAUP.
“I’ll tell you, we were just overwhelmed by the loud and proud support we’ve received this week, from students, parents, alumni and our AAUP and AFT colleagues from all across the country,” El-Sayed said.
University officials posted a statement on the EMU website explaining that classes would resume as normal starting at 8 a.m. Monday.
Last week, Walter Kraft, the university’s vice president for communication, said in an earlier statement that there was concern EMU students were being harmed by the walkout.
“We continue to hear from many students who believe they are being harmed significantly by not being able to attend classes and continue their education,” Kraft said in the statement dated Sept. 9, after a Washtenaw County Court judge denied the university’s request for a injunction to stop striking faculty. “As we’ve stated from the outset, our primary concern in filing this action was to get our students back in the classroom while negotiations continue.”
Details of the contract agreement, affecting more than 500 tenured and tenure-track faculty, were not immediately released. Union officials said the members would discuss details of the new contract and vote on ratification of the tentative agreement at an upcoming meeting.
“After three days on strike and four days on the picket line, we’ve got a deal,” said Matt Kirkpatrick, associate professor of English language and literature at EMU and chair of the EMU-AAUP negotiating team. “This is an important victory for our members – and most importantly for our students. We took a stand to maintain and strengthen quality education at EMU, and this agreement moves us forward.”
The AAUP recently affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s largest unions.
AAUP President Irene Mulvey and AFT President Randi Weingarten both joined EMU-AAUP members on the picket lines in Ypsilanti this week, along with hundreds of striking faculty, students, workers from other campus unions and community supporters – including members of the EMU Marching Band.
“This was a challenging set of negotiations,” Kirkpatrick said. “Our goal now is to work together, all across the campus, to deliver the best possible options and opportunities for EMU students.”