NMU faculty contract mediation to begin Monday

ARQUETTE — Mediation between the Northern Michigan University faculty union and NMU administration is set to begin on Monday via Zoom, as faculty has requested a state mediator for ongoing contract negotiations with the administration and the NMU Board of Trustees, according to a news release from the NMU American Association of University Professors union.

Elizabeth Peters, who practiced labor law for 35 years prior to becoming a mediator for the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, will preside over the mediation process, according to NMU-AAUP Chief Negotiator Lesley Putman.

“I initially contacted MERC in mid-June out of a concern for the way negotiations were going,” Putman said in a news release. “When the (NMU) Board of Trustees refused to extend the NMU-AAUP contract, the union decided it was time to bring in a state mediator.”

The NMU administration said in a statement released Wednesday that it is “optimistic that mediation will result in an agreement soon.”

According to previous information released by the union, negotiations have been going on since March 1, but talks regarding financial items did not start until May, and compensation is where the two sides still differ. The NMU-AAUP union and the university’s administration were unable to come an agreement before the one-year contract expired at midnight July 1.

The union and administration are still “negotiating over base salary increases and other forms of compensation,” AAUP officials said in the release.

“To help the university get through the COVID crisis, we agreed to cuts in our summer pay, overload pay and professional development funding,” Putman said. “We feel restoration of these items to pre-pandemic levels should have been the starting point for post-pandemic negotiations, not the ending point.”

While mediation is not binding, it can help both sides move toward an agreement, NMU-AAUP officials said.

“I am hopeful this process will produce a fair contract our membership will accept,” NMU-AAUP President Dwight Brady said in the release. “We may need to tweak a few things after mediation, but the idea behind mediation is to have an objective voice at the table helping both sides agree on the main issues.”

Brady previously said he asked for a contract extension, but the NMU Board of Trustees did not grant it.


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