Eastern Michigan University faculty ratify new contract

Faculty at Eastern Michigan University voted to strike.

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Faculty members at Eastern Michigan University have voted to ratify a new four-year labor agreement with the school.

The Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Friday that 96% of its members voted in favor of the deal which would include pay raises and more favorable health care coverage.

Dozens of faculty members began picketing Sept. 7 at the school, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) southwest of Detroit.

The union and the school's administration had been split over salary increases and how much faculty members should pay for health care. Union leaders had argued that the school’s proposal for health care would have saddled its members with thousands of dollars in additional costs.

Striking faculty members returned to their classrooms Sept. 12, after a deal was reached with the university to end the walkout.

The new contract would cover more than 500 tenured and tenure-track faculty and includes $4,000 raises in base pay or 4% in the first year of the agreement, whichever is greater, as well as 3.25% base pay increases in the second and third years, the union said.

Faculty also would receive the same health care options as administrators and other groups on campus, with health care premiums based on an 80/20 cost-sharing model.

“Our goal was to bring back an agreement to address concerns we heard about supporting our students, fair compensation and creating a foundation for continued quality education at EMU,” said Matt Kirkpatrick, associate professor of English language and literature and chair of the faculty union negotiating team.

The university’s Board of Regents still has to review and vote on the agreement before it is finalized. That is expected to occur “in the near future,” the school said Friday night in a statement.

“Contract negotiations of this nature are complex and challenging,” the school said. “The administration is pleased with the terms of the tentative agreement and greatly supports the university’s outstanding faculty and their work in the classroom to support our students.”

More than 15,000 students are enrolled at the school’s Ypsilanti campus.