Signal boost: EMU-FT press release

(From time to time, HVALF is asked to provide additional publicity for efforts being made by our affiliate unions. Please see the press release below from Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers, AFT 9102.)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from EMUFTL PTL

July 8, 2020

Contact: Daric Thorne, emuftpresident@gmail.com, 810-618-6487

EMU Administration Derails Contract Negotiations with Employee Union
In the midst of the COVID-19, university administration wants to take away the hope of full-time employment

YPSILANTI – Five months into contract negotiations with the Eastern Michigan Federation of Teachers (EMUFT) Part-Time Lecturer Union, Eastern Michigan University announced on July 2 that they would dissolve their existing bargaining team in favor of one led by lawyers from Dykema, a law firm notorious for aggressive anti-union tactics.  

Up to this point, the two bargaining teams worked towards improving the relationship between EMUFT and the Administration by engaging in collegial negotiations based on mutual respect and common interests. EMU’s decision to bring in an outside law firm certainly puts in question the potential for improved relationships. 

“We had every reason to believe that we could arrive at a mutually beneficial contract by working through issues in-house.” said Daric Thorne, EMUFT president. “Now, the administration is lawyering up with anti-union negotiators. They are willing to dump a vastly improved course load assignment system down the drain to block workers from potentially getting full time positions at a time when we most need security. This would be bad in normal times. It’s unbelievable during a pandemic.”

Last Thursday, the last day of the bargaining period, when most details had been agreed upon by both teams and their constituents, the University team added a last-minute clause that would bar part-time lecturers from the potential of full-time employment. The sticking point: a backdoor in the full-time lecturers contract that allows a part-time lecturer to gain full-time employment at EMU. The EMU Administration also asked the part-time lecturers to accept a zero percent pay increase for the coming academic year and a one percent pay increase for the next two years. 

To put the financial concession into context, unlike their tenured and full-time lecturer colleagues, the equally-qualified and dedicated part-time lecturers are paid a much lower per credit hour rate at EMU and receive no benefits. Part-time lecturers are one of the most underpaid and job-insecure employee segments of the higher education system. In fact, an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) study, published in April found that “nearly 25 percent rely on public assistance to survive, and a whopping 40 percent have trouble covering basic household expenses.”  Most part-time lecturers have been working at EMU for 10 years or more. Some have been with the University for close to 30 years. Yet, a chance at a full-time appointment and a living wage with health and retirement benefits has been illusive at best.

“The Administration’s willingness to close the door to full time employment for these dedicated instructors at a time when many of them are struggling to make ends meet is an absolute moral failing of this university,” said Thorne. 

EMUFT and the part-time lectures represented by the union believe that a stable workforce is best for both students and lecturers. EMUFT lecturers are not only qualified to teach in their field, they are well versed in the University policies and programs that help students succeed. EMUFT is bargaining for a contract that provides a sustainable workload so part-time lecturers can focus on providing a quality education to EMU students. 

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