MARQUETTE - A contract with the American Association of University Professors that offers an increase in base salaries and requires union members to pay more for their health insurance was approved Friday morning by Northern Michigan University's Board of Trustees.
"It is to the great credit of both negotiation teams that they worked through a vast amount of contract language concerning both financial and non-financial issues," said AAUP's NMU Chapter President Ron Sundell while addressing the board. "Although no contract is ever deemed perfect from either side, this is a good, solid contract that is fair to both the administration and the faculty."
The new, three-year agreement calls for a 2.45 percent base salary increase in the first year of the contract, with a 2.3 percent increase in each of the second and third years. Additional salary adjustments were also included to bring roughly one quarter of NMU's full-time faculty nearer to national averages for their disciplines.
Full-time faculty will pay 20 percent of all health care costs beyond deductibles and co-pays, both of which also increased.
The contract takes effect immediately and will be retroactively applied. It expires June 30, 2015.
While the AAUP reached an agreement, and the United Auto Workers Local 2178 - which represents administrative professionals on campus - has come to a tentative agreement with the university, UAW Local 1950 - which represents clerical and technical workers - is continuing its negotiations.
UAW Local 1950 President Michelle Kimball said the process has been slow going.
"We're stagnating," she said before the board meeting. "I'm glad to see this progress (with the other unions) and I hope that means the administration will open up their purse strings for my group."
While addressing the board, Kimball implored them to rethink the administration's current offer, which she said would result in a net loss of 34 cents per hour for her union members, as the proposed wage increase would not be enough to cover a proposed increase in the cost of their health care.
"Given the economic downturns we've already weathered, a net loss is simply not acceptable," Kimball said while addressing the board Friday. "Surely there is no question that opting out of the health insurance is equally unacceptable. After all, people with such honorable principles as to dedicate their lives and careers to the education of others must surely be opposed to the injustice of providing health insurance only to employees you pay well enough to afford it."
Kimball's union - which represents some of the lowest paid union members on campus - has been in contract negotiations with the university's administration since July 2011.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.