On Aug. 24, The Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers (EMUFT) will be outside of Best Hall to help students move in and educate them and their families about the issues they are facing regarding contract negotiations. The rally will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at noon.
The EMUFT are asking members to come out and help them speak to students during this time.
“During the rally members will help students move in and welcome them to campus, but they will also seek conversations with parents and students about the contract negotiations in particular and their working conditions in general,” Anke Wolbert, Vice President of EMUFT, said.
Games, refreshments, and a cooling area will be provided as students and families learn more about the work of EMU lecturers. The EMUFT are seeking people to hand out flyers, help carry things into the dorms, and run the games.
Since March 17, leaders of EMUFT have met with EMU administrators to discuss contract negotiations. For part-time lecturers, their contract was negotiated in 2020. For full-time lecturers, their contract was negotiated in 2018 and extended in 2021. Those agreements will soon expire on Aug. 31, a few days after the start of classes on Aug. 28.
“EMUFT's Contract Action Team is organizing this event and any others that might follow. It is important that students and their parents are aware of the ongoing negotiations, especially since it appears we might run up to the end of the contract," Wolbert said.
The union is hoping to negotiate a combined contract for part-time and full-time lecturers, the first of its kind at EMU.
The university has requested a state-appointed mediator during negotiation sessions with the union.
"Both bargaining teams are working diligently to identify common ground,“ EMU vice president of communications Walter Kraft said.
"Additionally, a state-appointed mediator is in place to assist in the process of obtaining a successful outcome in which all parties are satisfied."
The EMUFT continues to bargain for a salary that helps members better adapt to increasing workloads outside of the classroom, inflation, and healthcare costs.
“Talking to our members tells me that we have people with serious concerns,” Daric Thorne, president of EMUFT, said. “Job security and salary considerations seem to be a significant part of the increasing anxiety of often overworked and underpaid teaching professionals.”
If the current contract expires without a new one in place, EMU lecturers will continue with the contract they currently have. This will extend bargaining proceedings between the union and the university’s administration, according to the EMUFT.
“During the pandemic, our unit was on the forefront of trying to help the university out. We agreed to extend a contract instead of having contentious negotiations, and in salary discussions took 0% raises,” Thorne said. “That cooperation has been met with resistance while we attempt to build a contract that helps our members better adapt to inflation and ever-increasing workloads.”
Although the progress has been slow for these lecturers, Thorne believes the union will reach a fair contract soon.
“I do think that the administration and our bargaining team have made some good progress on a key number of issues, and I expect that while we may not quite have everything fleshed out before the contract expires, we will be able to get it done soon,” Thorne said.
For more information on upcoming EMUFT events, visit their website’s calender.