YPSILANTI, Mich. – A labor dispute at Eastern Michigan University shows no sign of letting up.
The faculty union at the university is set to make a critical vote Tuesday that could signal a strike just as the school year gets underway.
“It’s kind of weird, being the beginning of the year, and we go right into a strike, feel like we should just go to class,” said Kaitlyn Vickers.
Vickers is a sophomore at EMU, and she said she used the waning hours of the long weekend to finish moving in on campus.
But come Tuesday (Sept. 6), EMU’s faculty union will vote on whether to strike.
“I feel for the teachers,” Vickers said. “They’re trying to get better pay, but I also hope we can come to a speedy conclusion.”
The faculty has been working without a contract which expired on Aug. 31.
The union did not accept the school’s offer of a 6.2% raise in year one and then two or 2.5% increases in the following four years.
Union spokesman and EMU English teacher Matt Kilpatrick says it’s really no pay raise at all.
“Effectively a net zero or negative for some of our members, and that’s what we’re fighting for,” said Kilpatrick.
The school asked for and received a state-sponsored mediator when talks stalled over the weekend.
Walter Kraft is EMU’s spokesman.
“We’re negotiating, and things are happening, and movement is occurring, and we think it’s important that that be allowed to continue, and a strike threat does nothing to further that process,” said Kraft.
If union members vote to strike, they could walk out as soon as Wednesday.
“It’s kind of scary because you waited so long to get to college, and then teachers want to go on strike, and I understand where they’re coming from, but at the same time, it’s my first year,” said freshman Kayla Woods.
Here is a breakdown of the unresolved proposal.