MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Members of the NMU-AAUP faculty union at Northern Michigan University rallied on Thursday in response to a move last week by the administration.
“We were just getting started on the financial portion of negotiations when the administration informed us on April 6 that they would no longer discuss financials until after the Board of Trustees meetings at the end of the month,” said NMU-AAUP President, Dwight Brady. “This means we are losing nearly a month of critical time to reach a deal on a contract, and we felt it was important to have a public show of solidarity before the end of the semester.”
NMU faculty and members of other local unions gathered at the Wildcat statue in front of Jamrich Hall and then marched to the Cohodas Building and back.
The union is seeking a three-year deal that would keep faculty compensation from falling further behind other regional universities in Michigan. As of now, NMU faculty have the fourth lowest compensation levels among Michigan’s thirteen public universities. The administration’s initial offer called for a two-year contract with no pay increase to base pay over two years with a one-time one-percent bonus.
“Last year, we took one for the team and settled for a pay freeze and reduced compensation for summer and overload pay because of COVID.” said Brady. “However, we cannot and will not accept essentially frozen salaries again. Our faculty members have worked extra hours and put themselves at risk to offer face to face instruction during a global pandemic. We do not think it is unreasonable to seek a fair contract that reflects the effort and commitment of our faculty.”
Last year, the union says they ratified their present one-year contract just days before the expiration of their old contract, and the union’s Chief Negotiator Lesley Putman does not want to see this happen again.
“We know the money is there. We know there is a pool of over three million dollars that faculty members over paid into NMU’s health insurance program,” said Putman. “We know that twenty faculty members were not replaced after retiring last year. We know the university received over twelve million dollars in CARES Act funding and seventeen million more is on the way. We also know the end is in sight to this pandemic and enrollment figures for fall 2021 are looking much better than expected. So, the money is there, we just need to be able to get back to discussing it during our negotiations.”
Local 3 News reached out to the administration and received the following response back on behalf of NMU President, Fritz Erickson:
“We look forward to continued fruitful talks on the many topics on the table. We will continue to work through issues, including budgets, with both the Board of Trustees and the faculty Union in a timely manner. The current contract goes through June 30, 2021.”
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