NMU, union contract situation finally resolved

It took months, but it appears the impasse between the Northern Michigan University-American Association of University Professors faculty union and NMU administration is nearing an end.

The union and administration had been 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 at midnight July 1, with mediation beginning between the two parties that month.

The union met on Sept. 28 to ratify a tentative agreement, but turned it down 137-92. However, on Friday, the two sides reached a tentative agreement on the AAUP faculty contract. Agreement was reached on a few outstanding items that contributed to the recent failed ratification vote.

Officially, it’s not over. The faculty will need to ratify the agreement with final approval coming from the NMU Board of Trustees.

In a statement, NMU-AAUP President Dwight Brady said there is a better chance of ratification with this proposal, noting he appreciated the efforts of the union’s chief negotiator, Lesley Putman, and administration members who helped secure the agreement.

NMU interim President Kerri Schuiling, who has her hands full with her new position, noted in a statement that administration is pleased both sides worked collaboratively on the agreement.

Of course, the process hadn’t always been smooth. During former NMU President Fritz Erickson’s convocation in August, faculty walked out in protest of the stalled negotiations. There also had been signage throughout the community indicating how many days faculty had been working without a contract.

We are not yet aware of the contract details, but it appears they satisfy faculty and administration, who if they approve the agreement, can focus more on other pressing university matters in the coming years.

We are pleased to see an agreement finally might be reached, although we wish it hadn’t taken so much time and consternation for it to happen. Without hearing the behind-the-scene discussions, we’re not sure what exactly transpired, but it appears the situation is heading in the right direction.


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