The Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers (EMUFT) held a sit-in on Sept. 12 at Welch Hall to protest their working conditions.
Contract bargaining for the union has been ongoing since March of this year. The current contracts under which full and part-time lecturers have been working on expired Aug. 31.
When that contract expired, a 15 day contract-extension was signed between the union and university administration to continue working under the same contracts. The new contract currently being negotiated will include both full and part-time lecturers.
Bargaining continued on Tuesday with American Federation of Teachers president, Terrence Martin, joining EMUFT in their efforts.
While bargaining occurred, members of the union and supporters occupied Welch Hall, in which the offices of EMU president James Smith and provost Rhonda Longworth, among others, are located.
“Eastern Michigan University respects the desire for lecturers to demonstrate their concerns. We support their freedom of speech and continue negotiating in good faith and remain available to meet daily if they choose to do so. The administration values the university's full and part-time lecturers and their overall work to support our students and their success,” Melissa Thrasher, director of media relations for EMU, said in a written statement.
In a Sept. 9 press release from the EMUFT, Anke Wolbert the union vice president said, “It is time that EMU finally understands the message that lecturers are not alone.”
The union has surely worked to garner support from EMU students and community members.
“I plan to support the lecturers in their protests and hope the bargaining goes well so that a strike is averted," Colton Ray a social work major, said.
With the end of their contract-extension just days away, whether or not EMUFT and the administration will reach an agreement remains unclear. If an agreement is not reached, the union may choose to extend the contract again, work without a contract, or propose a strike authorization vote.
“The mission is education for the students, and we want to do the best for the students,” Maria Goodrich, part-time lecturer, said.