The Strike of 2006: Day 1

My day has not exactly gone by the plan so far. First off, my gym is still closed, and, like EMU, will not likely re-open until after Labor Day. So I couldn’t work out and I still feel flabby. And then second, I decided that picketing wasn’t going to work for me today, mainly because it’s my son’s 9th birthday and I do have my priorities.

I did drive around campus on my way home and I did see that pickets are in place. But, and I don’t want to be picky about our picketing, I wonder if we’re taking the right strategy on the way we do this. It makes sense to me to post pickets at things like loading docks and the enterance points of construction sites on campus, especially since some of the workers in some of those unions (the Teamsters, for example) have it written into their contract that they won’t cross another union’s picket line. But beyond that, I personally think that the union would be better off organizing pickets around a few key places on campus and also to focus on some rally-type pickets at specific times. In other words, instead of it all being about 24 hour posts, why not schedule a picket/rally in front of the University House for noon or 1 pm? Why not keep the pickets up around Welch Hall? Why not plan a picket around Pray-Harrold on Sunday while the student/parent orientation is going on?

Just my thoughts. I don’t expect to be getting an email or a post from the union folks suggesting I organize something like that. :-)

Speaking of union versus administration folks: while driving around this morning, I heard both Hartmut Hoft and Howard Bunsis on WEMU radio. You can take a listen to these interviews yourself by following this link. It’s really a classic we say/they say kind of thing, but it’s interesting in at least two regards, I think. First, both sides accuse the other of not bargaining in good faith– in other words, there are unfair labor practice claims flowing out of both groups right now. Second, neither side of the table seems to feel the need/pressure to settle before the start of classes. As I’ve mentioned before, that kind of pisses me off.

Anyway, I’ll get back to this stuff in more earnest tomorrow. Today is the opening of my son Will’s birthday– really birth-week since he doesn’t officially have his party until Sunday.

Friday Night Update:

A few thoughts on the day at the end of it:

  • My colleague Steve B. did some picketing today and said there were quite a few faculty up there with signs and enthusiastic and all of that. All a good thing.
  • I heard a rumor (not from Steve B., I want to point out) that there had been some “significant progress” made today. At the same time, I’m not sure Howard Bunsis’ message to faculty has a lot of “significant progress” info in it. On the one hand, it sounds like some progress has been made on the biggest issue, health care. On the other hand, if you listen to Howard, it doesn’t look like a lot has happened with the other issues.
  • The parties have decided to take Saturday off and resume negotiations for Sunday. I don’t entirely know what that means. Have negotiations progressed to the point that they think they can wrap this up on Sunday? Are we supposed to picket on Saturday even if there are no negotiations? Does everyone just need, you know, a day off?
  • In the spirit of “piling on” the they say/we say thing, here’s what Hartmut Hoft said in today’s paper: ” “It’s clear, despite the university’s best efforts, that the (union) leadership was intent on striking and engaged in surface bargaining. They clearly had no intention of reaching an agreement.” I’m not really questioning Hartmut’s sincerity; I’m just saying that this sure as heck sounds like something Howard would have said, too.
  • Speaking of Howard: he sent around an email in response to one the provost sent to everyone the other day. Actually, I got four copies of Don Loppnow’s email, which makes me feel like that’s giving me permission to post it here. But I won’t. Anyway, Loppnow predictably pleaded institutional poverty, and Bunsis predictably suggested that EMU is just loaded. I think the truth is probably somewhere in between, but Howard does have a point: it’s kind of hard for the EMU administration to claim that we are poorer now than we were a couple years ago given that EMU’s appropriation from the state of Michigan is $2 million more this year than it was last. And EMU has had to spend a lot of money paying off fired and/or laid off adminstrators lately, too.

But like I said, we’ll see, we’ll see….

4 thoughts on “The Strike of 2006: Day 1”

  1. As you probably remember, I’d not even received my first official paycheck when I was walking a picket line with y’all in 2000. I too share your (and others’) mixed feelings about a strike and the political climate there. The us v. them polarization you discuss here seems hard to imagine with the individuals involved on the “admin” side–the ones I know are some of the most honest, ethical administrators I’ve ever met. Of course the right to strike is a valuable one, but I wonder what in EMU’s climate, even more than other schools (maybe?) engenders this kind of battle-to-the-brink mentality, regardless of president (I’d have thought that might make a difference) or faculty leadership. Do I think it’s good that faculty are willing to protest a contract they think is unfair? Absolutely. Now that I’m working somewhere where the state board of education sets things like placement standards for writing courses and also directly controls our salaries (been good this year? is there extra money? how about 2% then?), there’s no doubt that I feel an entirely new set of vulnerabilities. Otoh, there is *not* (at least not yet, as far as I can tell) a really strong faculty/admin divide. Which is a good thing.

    So I’m with ya, mixed feelings and all. I just hope it ends before school starts….

  2. Good luck Steve. The last thing I’d want right now is a strike to contend with, getting ready for classes (we don’t start them until the 18th) is stressful enough without a labor imbroglio. Also, sounds like you need a bicycle, way better than any gym, and it’ll get rid of the flab as well. I’m thinking of getting a tandem so my 7-year old and I can go on longer rides. We went over 20 miles today on a nice, flat trail. We could do even more on a tandem. Beyond all that, good luck with the strike and getting back into the classroom and “work.”

  3. Well, you gotta remember Bradley that about 5 or so months out of the year around here, riding a bike is pretty much impossible. Snow, ice, cold, etc. I do tend to ride the bike at the gym though….

  4. I know what you mean about the winter weather Steve. We get the same thing in Spokane–cold and snow–though I doubt to the degree you get it. I have pretty good roads between home and school that are generally clear and safe. I’m just dumb enough to ride unless there’s ice on the road or heavy snow in the forecast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.