After months of negotiating, the Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers has a contract in place.
The contract, voted on by the union with a 96% approval rating on Oct. 13, covers the next five years for full and part-time lecturers at EMU.
The EMU Board of Regents ratified the contract at their Oct. 19 meeting.
“[I feel] relieved,” EMUFT Grievance Officer Jeremy Proulx said. “It was a very long process.”
Despite the lengthy negotiations, both sides have expressed excitement and satisfaction at the contract's completion.
“I for one am looking forward to working with the administration on implementing this contract," said Anke Wolbert, EMUFT's newly-appointed president.
EMU representatives are in agreement. In a statement, Vice President of Communications Walter Kraft said, "We're pleased to have finalized the new five-year agreement with the full and part-time lecturers bargaining unit. These were not simple negotiations.”
Lecturers saw a significant increase in compensation with this contract, 12.5% over the next five years for full-time lecturers and 16.4% for part-time lecturers, established in yearly increments. The contract also includes changes to healthcare plans and other benefits.
Lecturers have made strong efforts to make their voices heard, holding rallies, attending Board of Regents meetings, and keeping the public informed. Now, with a contract in place, many of their demands were successfully met. But not all of them.
At the board meeting where the contract was approved, Wolbert spoke during public commentary, highlighting the success of the negotiations, but also calling for improvements to be made.
“We are not part of the Faculty Senate [and] we don’t have any committee in front of the Board of Regents, which is why I called for the lecturers affairs committee today… because right now we are relegated to public commentaries,” Wolbert said.
Another sticking point for the union was the fight for promotional pay for part-time lecturers. Currently, part-time lecturers are the only campus employees, besides student workers, that do not have a tiered pay system.
"There is absolutely no pay differentiation as we move through the ranks," Wolbert said. "A person can start as a PTL 1, become a 2, a 3, and they still make the same pay as a person who is hired off the street today."
"[Not] getting promotional pay... was a loss I have trouble facing people with," said Proulx. "Nevertheless, that's motivation to fight another day."
EMUFT and the university proved resilient in the over six-month-long negotiation process for a new contract. In the end, both sides kept students' interests in mind and were able to avoid a work stoppage.
"This is a positive outcome for everyone involved," Kraft said.