CMU-FA Fact Finding Results

By Amanda Harrison

This Friday contract negotiations will resume between the CMU Faculty Association and the Administration after a fact finding report was released.  

The report reviewed several key issues, including salary adjustments and health care benefits.

Ruthanne Okun is the director of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, she deals with fact finding cases.

Okun said fact finding is successful because a third party is able to look at the case objectively and give insight to both sides. This helps both parties compromise.

“Then they’re able to say see another person who has looked at this reasonably is able to say that in fact our position is not reasonable, or is reasonable, or we should settle on these terms. And because we’re dealing with public officials who are so affected by public pressure and public opinion that the fact finding process is often able to resolve the situation in the end.”

Okun said she believes appointing a fact finder was beneficial. And she said she hopes Fridays negotiations will continue to be productive.

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Faculty and CMU fact finding

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Faculty at Central Michigan University have been without a
contract since June 30 for the first time in school history. The agreement in
place was allowed to expire without extension.

Bargaining teams for the administration and the faculty
association begin the fact finding process today in hopes of coming to terms on
a new collective bargaining agreement.

On July 14th, the university and faculty
association petitioned for fact finding through the Michigan Employment
Relations Commission. Barry Goldman will serve as the appointed fact finder.

Since then, there has been no formal bargaining. FA
President Laura Frey said the union has and does prefer to be at the table…

Robert Vercruysee is the Employment and Labor Relations
Council for CMU he will present the university’s case at the hearings. He said
there was a breakdown in communication that led to a delay in moving forward
with the fact finding process…

Vercruysee adds that the fact finder tried to schedule pre
hearing conferences, but, in his words the faculty was not available.

Laura Frey said in her view, the process has been hurried
along by the university in an attempt to move negotiations away from formal
bargaining talks…

The fact finding process is not binding. Both sides
acknowledged this as we sat down for interviews for this story, but there are
at this point differing interpretations as to what will happen as the process
continues.

Robert Vercruysee said the law did not give public employees
the right to strike, but did grant the right to mediation and fact finding. He
said the report coming from the fact finder is, in effect, the basis for a new
collective bargaining agreement or contract…

Laura Frey believes the report is meant to render a
perspective on the case made by both sides. But further, bring both sides back
into formal discussions toward a new contract. She said, that was made clear to
her by the Judge Paul Chamberlain’s ruling on August 26th

The FA president believes in her side’s case as does the
university, as both sides enter the fact finding process. Laura Frey’s concern is
with the potential outcome, her belief that CMU plans to at some point impose a
contract on the faculty. She said, based on the terms as of July 14th
when talks broke off between the two sides…

Robert Vercruysee maintains his position in representing the
university that this fact finding process will lead to a fair and equitable
deal for both sides…

Three fact finding sessions have been scheduled. One
additional session date has been set aside for Wednesday, September 14th.

CMU faculty and Administration are in court

Faculty at CMU were in the classroom yesterday after a walk-out Monday when the union declared a full work stoppage.

Instructors were ordered back to the classroom when a judge filed a temporary restraining order Monday afternoon.  

Now the faculty and the university are likely preparing for a number of pending actions.

Both sides will be in court Friday as the judge that ordered faculty back to work will hear arguments for and against a permanent injunction ending the strike.
    .
Then on September 7, both sides will present their cases to a fact finder.  He’ll examine the evidence and make a non-binding recommendation on how negotiations may proceed.

And at some point, officials say, in the near future, the two sides will appear before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission the M.E.R.C to discuss the legality of the walk-out.

Ruth Ann Okun is director of the MERC.

She said there is a narrow parameter that may make the work-stoppage legal.

“In general strikes by public employees are illegal, that’s always been the case.  But there was some language in, I believe it was, a court of appeals case some time ago that left  a little bit of a door open as to whether striking in protest of an unfair labor practice, whether in face that was illegal.”

There were no new talks yesterday in the faculty dispute, but also no new pickets or protests. 

Again, the next scheduled activity will be the circuit court appearance on Friday.

CMU professors on job action may or may not be legal

Central Michigan University professors walked off the job last night just hours before the start of the fall semester.

As Mike Horace reports, university administrators said progress was made on non-economic issues over the last few days, but the two sides remain far apart when it comes to compensation and benefits.

That was the scene last as some 600 tenure-track faculty members walked off the job.

Laura Frey is the faculty union president.

“We are on an association approved, legal job action, full work stoppage.” Said Frey.

University spokesman Steve Smith disagrees about the legality of work stoppage. He said the university will take the union to court this morning.

“Strikes by public employees over economic issues are illegal under Michigan law, and that is why we will seek an injunction in Isabella County to get the faculty back in the classroom.”

Smith said the two sides had made progress on non-economic issues in recent days something the union has not confirmed.

Students are being told to report to class this morning.

CMU student reactions to faculty job action

Around the campus of CMU, students have mixed feelings about the work stoppage.

Some are excited about the possibility of having no class, while others are worried that they may go to class this morning and have no teacher.
 
CMU students are gearing up for their first day of class today.  But a lot of students are uncertain now of how the day will pan out.  Some are debating if they’ll even go to class.

Laneer Turner is a sophomore from Detroit.  He said he’s still undecided.
 
“I think it would be a waste of time to go to class and to find no teacher there, but it might be appropriate to get up and go.  I think we’re the ones who are really getting hurt here, because we’re not getting the education that we’re paying for and that we deserve.”
           
Other students like Detroit Sophomore Jacob Carter said they’re taking no chances.
  
He said the fact that only tenured faculty are striking may be confusing to students in terms of which classes they should attend.
 
“I mean it’s just like you go to class, you might not have it, but we want you to go anyway. I mean I’ll go just to be on the safe side.”
 
Some students are also saying that they want a tuition refund for any class time they may miss due to the faculty walk out.

CMU faculty walks off the job

The Central Michigan University Faculty Association declared a full work stoppage this evening, hours before the start of fall classes.  The University says  it’s going to court tomorrow morning seeking an injunction ordering the faculty back to class. 
CMU says the faculty walk out is illegal, because Michigan law prohibits public employees from striking over economic issues.

The union has been without a contract since June 30.

CMU Public Radio’s Mike Horace and Amy Robinson report…

CMU-Faculty negotiations continue

A state mediator will arrive on the campus of CMU this morning to
oversee negotiations between the University and its faculty union.

Bargaining teams from both sides met yesterday for about 90-minutes.  It
was the third bargaining session this week. Classes are scheduled to
start on Monday.

Faculty members launched informational pickets on campus yesterday as student were returning for the fall semester.

Dozens of professors held signs and passed out fliers on campus, as students started moving back into the dorms.

Tim Connors is the former president of the faculty association. He said
little progress has been made in negotiations, but he is optimistic.

“I’m always optimistic, I’m a half full kind of guy. And so I’m hoping
that there will be progress. I want to teach on Monday. I want to be in
my classes. I love my students.”

The union has already authorized its bargaining team to declare a work action up to and including a strike. MU Provost Gary Shapiro hopes it won’t come to that.

“I’m confident that they’ll be in our classrooms on Monday, our students
will begin learning, and we’ll continue to work this out for a mutually
satisfactory agreement.”

The start of classes should become more clear Sunday night, when a meeting of all faculty union members is planned.