Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers (EMUFT) began their bargaining kickoff on March 17, at 9:30 a.m. in the courtyard of Strong Hall.
This is the first time in the union's history that both EMU full time and part time lecturers will be bargaining with a single contract to meet both of their needs. The union will bargain for compensation, reducing workload for full time lecturers, building paths for part time lecturers to get full time appointments, and benefits overall.
Daric Thorne, president of EMUFT, said that the group has been arguing for years that the two units should be as one. This past fall in the Michigan Employment Relations Commissions election, EMUFT won the right to merge the two units together.
This rally is in support of the union as the union bargaining team and EMU administration begin to bargain before the expiration of the contract this upcoming August.
“We’re here to show the administration that we’re engaged in this process and that we’re serious about it and also to support the bargaining team,” Evan Dority, Chief Steward of EMUFT, said.
In the late 1990s, the EMUFT formed on campus to support full time and non-tenure track faculty. In the beginning, the relations commission did not consider part time lecturers able to bargain with EMUFT. This changed in 2009 when the part time lecturers were allowed to organize. The union had two contracts for each unit until the unification vote in December 2022.
“Over the last few years, we’ve really been talking to members, talking about how we can bargain more effectively together," Thorne said. “After doing a lot of on the ground organizing, talking to people, we finally put together a vote with the State of Michigan and all of our lecturers voted by huge margins to combine our units into a single bargaining unit of full time and part time lecturers.”
EMUFT members are part of a community of over 3,000 AFT local affiliates and 1.7 million members nationwide.
Some of EMUFT’s goals are to improve conditions for non-tenure track faculty and focus on teaching and learning conditions for faculty and students at EMU.
“It’s important students understand that there’s different types of teachers here on campus, so last year we were out here supporting AAUP, which represents tenured and tenure-track faculty on campus," Thorne said. "We represent full and part time lecturers, which is about the same size as the AAUP unit. We have separate contracts.”
EMUFT will continue negotiations until a contract is reached between both sides.
“Students can show up, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Throne said. “We are stronger bargaining not only as lecturers standing together, but also as a community working together to make sure there is economic justice for everyone here on campus.”