NMU faculty votes on strike authorization

AAUP: Members approved potential action, but unlikely it will be needed

MARQUETTE — A vast majority of members of the Northern Michigan University-American Association of University Professors union support a strike authorization.

Union members met on Thursday at Jamrich Hall to mull over authorizing a strike. As of Friday, a vote tally showed 82% were in favor of it, with 183 “yes” votes and 35 “no” votes.

The union and administration still are negotiating over base salary increases and other forms of compensation. NMU-AAUP and the university’s administration were unable to come to an agreement before the one-year contract expired July 1.

Mediation between the two parties began in July.

NMU-AAUP President Dwight Brady on Thursday said the union gathered to discuss the status of contract negotiations as well as to hear information about what it means to authorize a strike and what would happen should a strike occur.

“The goal here was not to go on strike,” Brady said. “Again, it was to take basically a straw poll of the faculty, get their input and their responses, and provide some information about the different types of strikes.”

The purpose of the vote, he said, was to authorize the union’s executive committee to call for a strike if necessary.

“By what I’m seeing with negotiations, both sides are still exchanging offers,” Brady said. “There’s communication.”

Brady said it was unlikely to get to the point of where a strike would be necessary.

“Again, it’s better to prepare now and prepare the membership in case, for some reason, we had to do that,” he said.

Brady acknowledged that several faculty viewpoints were considered.

“We welcome that discussion from faculty members who were really skeptical about it and faculty members who are really gung ho about it,” he said.

In a previous statement from the union, it said, “To be clear, we are in mediation with a state-appointed mediator, and we have not shared — nor will we share — specifics from the mediation in the public arena because details discussed with the mediator are confidential.”

In 2020, the union ratified its present one-year contract, settling for a pay freeze and reduced compensation for summer and overload pay because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it wants to return to pre-COVID levels of compensation.

Gabe Logan, NMU history professor and AAUP contract officer, attended Thursday’s meeting.

“I would like to think that it gives both sides an understanding of the seriousness of this,” Logan said.

He called the situation “unprecedented waters.”

“We need to have a contract,” Logan said.

The next step for the union, he noted, involves several factors.

“Keep negotiating,” Logan said. “Keep working. Keep the students in mind, and hopefully, the administration is as serious as we are on providing an education to our students.”

The NMU administration did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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