Over the last few months, it’s become evident to people across Michigan that Governor Snyder and others in Lansing have no interest in respecting workers’ right to collectively bargain for fair wages and decent working conditions, however these latest developments are truly shocking. This week the Faculty Association at Central Michigan University was ordered by an Isabella County judge to return to work until a hearing can be held Friday morning on the University’s request for an injunction declaring the ongoing strike illegal. But the work stoppage could have easily been avoided many times this year.
Reports are currently surfacing that in April the faculty agreed to a zero percent pay increase if administrators would cap tuition costs at last year’s levels. The administration declined to accept this offer and raised tuition 3.9 percent, even though this made Central Michigan University the second most expensive public university in the state. The University seems determined to continue to add to their savings, already larger than almost every institution in the state and the Mid-American Conference, rather than using their secure financial position to compensate faculty who are among the lowest paid in the state and the Mid-American Conference.
In a July letter sent by Central Michigan University lawyers, they listed 17 unresolved issues between the administrators and faculty, including their desires to significantly weaken the faculty bargaining committee, make it more difficult to obtain a promotion, and transfer the authority to give promotions from individual departments to the administration. Over the course of the negotiations this summer, the University refused to extend the previous work agreement, signaling to the Faculty Association that administrators were willing to risk a work stoppage to force concessions from the faculty.
Central Michigan University has $228 million in unrestricted surplus assets, a number that has increased every year since 2005 as state appropriations have decreased. Additionally, university officials have said that to agree to all of the Faculty Association’s proposals would cost Central Michigan University $10 million over three years, or less than 2.5 percent of the institution’s operating budget.
Help us send a strong message to university administrators by demanding that they do the right thing. College professors will be the foundation of a 21st century economy, and in order for our state to be competitive we must do what is necessary to ensure that our public institutions attract and retain top-tier students. Stand with Central Michigan’s faculty by sending an email directly to the administration demanding that they invest in our state’s future.