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EMU professors vote to go on strike

Eastern Michigan University's Bruce T. Halle Library
Dwight Burdette
U.S. Government Publishing Office
Eastern Michigan University's Bruce T. Halle Library

Update: Wednesday, September 7, 8:50 p.m.

Eastern Michigan University submitted a court filing Wednesday seeking an injunction to order its striking faculty members back to work. The filing says the strike is illegal and that it is causing the university and its students and staff "permanent and irreparable injuries for which there is no adequate remedy at law."

The faculty union said the university "has 'unclean hands' due to repeated unfair labor practices in violation of Michigan law," so the school's effort to seek an injunction is meritless.

Original story: Tuesday, September 6, 9:58 p.m.

More than 500 Eastern Michigan University professors will not be teaching classes Wednesday.

The EMU faculty union said 91% of its members voted Tuesday night to go on strike.

The union — EMU's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) — has been working without a contract since the end of August.

“We want to be in the classroom. But we feel like this is ... the thing we’re doing is a last resort,” said Matt Kirkpatrick, associate professor of English Language and Literature at EMU and chair of the EMU-AAUP negotiating team.

A university spokesman accused the faculty union of voting to “walk out” on EMU students.

“It is unfortunate that rather than continue to follow the mediator’s path, with active negotiations still underway, the faculty union is asking its members to walk out and disrupt students’ education just seven days into the semester,” said Walter Kraft, university vice president for communications, in a statement issued after the vote Tuesday night.

Union leaders said the university and its professors have been far apart on several issues, but health care benefits is the prime sticking point.

EMU administrators want faculty members to share more of the increasing costs of providing healthcare to employees and families. Union leaders claim the university is pushing a health care plan that is “more costly” than the insurance coverage currently in effect for members of other campus bargaining units.

A state appointed mediator is scheduled to sit down with both sides Wednesday morning.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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