YPSILANTI, Mich. – Classes are resuming Monday morning for Eastern Michigan University students after a tentative deal has been reached between the university and faculty that had been on strike.
The Ypsilanti-based university announced late Sunday that administrators had reached a tentative contract agreement with the EMU’s American Association of University Professors chapter. The union voted on Tuesday, Sept. 7 to authorize a strike amid stalled contract talks with the university and difficulties making a deal.
Union members said the university’s initial wage offers were not sufficient, and that a strike was one of the “last tools” they had to bargain with.
“The administration has just been stonewalling us the whole time in order to try to force us to what amount to pay cuts, that’s all that is to it,” an EMU professor told Local 4. “They’re offering us 2% pay raises at a time when inflation is 9%.”
Faculty members said last week that they need a higher number for a meaningful raise as their health care premiums and costs are rising. The university, which showed disappointment over and disapproval of the strike, countered by saying rising health care costs are being felt everywhere.
The strike has disrupted classes and learning for students, as more than 500 tenured and tenure track faculty did not show up for classes on Sept. 8. Several EMU students showed compassion for the professors, saying they understand the situation isn’t ideal, but they get why a strike may be necessary.
Union members said early on they hoped the strike would be short lived. After less than a week, it appears the strike may be over for good.
EMU announced late Sunday night that students and faculty would be returning to a full schedule as of 8 a.m. on Monday after a “tentative contract agreement has been reached with the faculty union, following marathon bargaining sessions between the administration and faculty union bargaining teams this weekend.” Specific details about the deal were not shared, but the university says more information will be provided in “future updates.”
“After three days on strike and four days on the picket line, we’ve got a deal,” said Matthew Kirkpatrick, lead negotiator for the union and associate professor of english and history at EMU. “This is an important victory for our members -- and most importantly for our students. We took a stand to maintain and strengthen quality education at EMU, and this agreement moves us forward.”
The union’s previous contract agreement with the university expired on Aug. 31.