The Strike of 2006: Day 11 (Fallon on WEMU)

I listened to John Fallon on WEMU this morning. You can take a listen to it yourselfby going to the story on their web site, but here’s some of my notes/thoughts:

  • Talking about insurance, Fallon says the administration’s offer preserves the concept of choice of insurance plans and that there is still a “free” option. That’s sort of true. But keep in mind that the “free” option has a $1500 deductible, which means that the only reason why anyone would take this insurance is if they had a spouse who had insurance. Basically, it’s catastrophic insurance. So the “choice” faculty have is (basically) pay what can add up to be a premimum worth a two or so percent of your salary (relative to what we were paying before, of course) or to just make sure you don’t need to go to the doctor.
  • Fallon conceded that this was less than a 3% pay increase if people pay these other insurance issues. Which again, raises questions about the fab offer EMU is proclaiming on their web site.
  • Fallon said “There’s plenty left to negotiate.â€� Now, wait a minute: If that’s the case, then what’s the deal with this “final best offer” stuff? And why did the adminstration leave the table and thus leave the negotiations not finished?
  • Regarding court action and other legalese stuff, Fallon said “We’re exploring a number of options along those lines.” Again, please EMU administration: if you’re going to seek a court order, seek it now.
  • There’s a welcome back to school party planned for tomorrow that Fallon is planning on attending. Hmm, that might be an interesting place to picket….
  • To me, one of the most telling parts of this interview was how he responded to the questions about what this says about the administration’s commitment to the students at EMU. First, he kind of stumbled a bit and then said “We are ready to go back to the negotiating table at the same moment that faculty are ready to go back to class.â€� Then a little later, Fallon said something like “As a former professor myself and as a parent, I don’t know if I could condone this and behave differently.â€� I think what Fallon is saying here (along with how he is saying it) gets back to what I am beginning to think is the truly perverse lockout strategy of the administration: they’re trying to guilt us back into the classroom, and they are playing off of our inherent sense of decency. That is low, low, below the belly of the serpent in the mud low.
  • The final question was if, by the end of the day, we’d have a sense about where we were going to be going to resolve the strike– court, bargaining table, or something else. Fallon’s response was “Yes, I’m hopeful.” Let’s see….
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9 Responses to The Strike of 2006: Day 11 (Fallon on WEMU)

  1. Kitchkitten says:

    Is it just me, or does Fallon sound, well, Canadian? Why doesn’t he act Canadian and seek diplomacy rather than militancy? This interview was so duplicitous. In fact, it was all the more insulting in seeming evenhanded and compassionate as to the tone.

  2. Faculty Member says:

    Great questions from WEMU (which gets some funding from the university, I think). Fair’s best question boils down to “wait a minute, how can you say you are still willing to negotiate — if faculty return to classes — and maintain that your last offer was your best one”.

    I think the real answer (not the one Fallon gave) is that the “last best offer” is the deal the university intends to IMPOSE if it doesn’t get its way at the bargaining table.

    In some respects, the university has become entangled by its own rhetoric. The inconsistency between a professed commitment to continue negotiations and making a “final” offer would probably cause a judge to blink hard at a request for a back-to-work order. So the admin really doesn’t want to go to court on that basis. Right now, it looks like they have little other choice (other than the ulnlikely option of simply swallowing hard and coming back to the table).

  3. Concerned Party says:

    ‘Lock out’? Administrations commitment to students?

    First, a ‘lock out’ is when the management, or in this case the administration, refuses to allow the employees to work. That is simply not the case in this situation.

    It is the union that has made the decision to walk out on the students. If anybody is showing a lack of commitment to the students during this strike it’s the faculty themselves. The union placed the students squarely in the middle of the table and are holding them hostage until it gets the contract it wants.

    Even if the administration returns to the negotiating table tomorrow, the faculty will not return to the classroom until the contract is finalized. How is that showing commitment to the students? The administration’s refusal to ‘negotiate with hostage takers’ (my words, not the administration’s) while not necessarily the wisest, shows more interest in getting the faculty back in the class then anything the union has said.

    Simple facts:
    -Union will not return to the classroom until they get the contract they want (which if you read their own press releases basically comes down to more money)
    -Administration will not negotiate until faculty is back in the classroom.

    Who’s showing less commitment toward the students? Actions speak louder then words.

  4. Wendell Gee says:

    Wow, “Concerned Party,” you seem really passionate about all of this. I think I’m actually coming around to your position. But I can’t decide whether it’s your water-tight reasoning or the fact that you went back to practically every single post on this website and left a comment saying practically the same thing that changed my mind. The only thing I don’t quite get–and believe me, I want to side with you–is when you say that “actions speak louder than words.” I think you’re talking about the administration, right? I’m just wondering when you refer to their “actions” whether you’re talking about the fact that they waited until 10pm the night before the fall semester began to make their “last best offer” or the fact that they walked away from the table at 10pm the night before the fall semester began, refusing to continue to negotiate? Thanks for the clarification. Keep up the great posts!

  5. Steven D. Krause says:

    Concerned Party, you are right that this is not really a lockout. What it really is is just a pretty plain and bold attempt to bust the union. We went out on strike for a variety of reasons, including unfair labor practices (and btw, that is actually legal). The way organized labor works, at least the way it always has worked, is that unions are in a position to bargain ultimately is the threat of a strike. We can debate whether or not that was a good idea, and I have mixed feelings about that.

    But from my point of view, two things are very VERY clear here: first, it is inescapable that the administration walked out of the the talks. The saddest part of this whole awful experience for me is that had they not walked out, had they stayed at the table, we would have been teaching last Wednesday.

    Second, given my first point, I think it’s clear who cares about the students here. Indeed, I think it’s the fact that we care about our students that is ultimately going to end this strike, and end it badly for the faculty union.

  6. Steven D. Krause says:

    Well CP, Ill tell you this:

    * I’ve been out there every day talking to students, mine and others.

    * I’ve been emailing students left and right, trying to clue them in to what’s going on and what the impact of the strike will be on the rest of the semester. Probably.

    * I have met with students informally at coffee shops and in my house, lending what support I can.

    I could go on and on. But other than Fallon serving coffee and saying he “cares deeply” about students, what has the administration done?

  7. AbbyC says:

    Hello Concerned Party,

    I wrote what I will paste below for another forum (http://insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/05/strike), but I thought that you might be interested in it as well.

    The long and short of the situation for me is that if we end the strike, we undermine the only power that we have to advocate for and act in the interest of EMU students, but if the administration returns to the negotiation table, they will lose nothing except a little self-esteem.

    Given its powerful (and expensive) outside lawyers, the administration can still advocate its own case once at the negotiation table and, supposing that even cares about EMU students (which I am beginning to very much doubt), it can still advocate for what it sees as the interest of students as well.

    Everyone loses if the strike is called off at this point, and everyone has a chance to compromise and reach a mutually agreed upon contract if the negotiations continue.

    ________________

    “Legal Right and Moral Obligation for the EMU Faculty to Strike�

    Hello EMU Parents,

    I would be in the classroom at this very moment if it was in the long-term interest of my students and in the long-term interest of your children. However, there is no question in this particular case that the faculty strike is not only warranted, but in the long-term interest of every student at EMU. It is my moral responsibility as a teacher, as well as your moral responsibility as a parent, to protect the interest of students in whatever way that I humanly can, and I take that responsibility very seriously, as seriously as no doubt you yourselves do. (Perhaps see the editorial in the student-run paper that says much the same thing: http://www.easternecho.com/cgi-bin/story.cgi?31362).

    The _only_ way that the EMU administration will attend to the needs of your sons and daughters and of future EMU students is if I continue to be on the picket line and continue to pressure the administration to resume the contract negotiations with my union — negotiations which they have so irresponsibly and so recklessly walked away from indefinitely.

    Consider only one of the many important issues about which the administration has refused to negotiate in good faith, an issue which it will continue to sidestep and stonewall unilaterally unless I use the only leverage that I have in withholding my labor and in joining the picket line. Namely, the possibly toxic and hazardous conditions in which EMU students will be studying for four to six years and in which I will be working for a lifetime.

    The administration has absolutely refused to release the data from an already completed study pertaining to the toxic and hazardous conditions at this university, and clearly, if it refuses to release such information, there is at least some possibly that we should all be very concerned about the potential health risks involved in studying and working within these buildings.

    If the union calls off the strike at this point, the administration will impose its supposed “last, best offer,� or maybe even a far worse offer, and we will have to wait another five years to pressure it to release this very important environmental data — data which the administration has already withheld for so long. Nor does the current offer address the two important issues that I mentioned above: faculty input and faculty erosion. In short, this contact has no provision of any kind on the issues that matter most to students.

    If we return to work without a contract, and without the administration negotiating with the union in good faith (as it, like any other kind of management, has a clear responsibility to do), the entire university will be held at the whim of an administration which has already demonstrated itself to be extremely poor stewards of the university. (You may have heard of the ill-conceived and expensive President’s mansion, along with other scandals for which the administration is responsible). The faculty will not only be stuck with a pitiful five-year contract, but the students, faculty, and other staff of this university will be deprived of the environmental data that they very much need (and deserve) to have regarding the potentially unsafe conditions in which they spend the majority of their time.

    Moreover, the faculty union is the only mechanism on campus to provide much-needed checks and balances on the administration; none of the other unions have the power that we have. The only reason that we have so much power is because we can threaten to strike, or go ahead and indeed strike as sadly we are now forced into doing. And if we stop this strike now, the administration will essentially have absolute power not only for the near term, but also for next five years and well into the future (when it returns to the next contract negotiations facing a weaker union). Indeed, if we stop the strike now, the administration will essentially have broken our very strong union by imposing a contract on us without negotiating in good faith with our proper representatives, our advocates and advisors being the union and the union alone.

    There is only one way for the strike to end; namely, the administration returning to the negotiation table where it should have been and should have continued to be all along. Even if you dislike unions (or just our union in particular), you must agree that the administration can make its own case once at the bargaining table, especially considering that it has hired expensive outside lawyers and PR people to fine tune its unilateral agenda. The administration must also be held responsible for initiating and perpetuating this strike since it is the party that has delayed and perhaps now undermined the only way for it to discontinue: negotiation and collective bargaining.

    There were some questions above concerning the legality of the strike in the first place. It is extremely important to remember that the very same law that makes it illegal for public employees to strike also makes it illegal for public employers to withhold information and to stall negotiations as this administration has plainly done. The resolution of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party in support of our strike makes this case very well: http://www.emu-aaup.org/node/205.

    If anyone is interested in signing a petition to get the EMU administration back to the negotiating table, please click on the following link:

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/262740466?ltl=1157916627

    Negotiation is the quickest and perhaps the only way to resolve the current stalemate between the administration and the union. It is also the best and only hope for the EMU students whose education is now so much in jeopardy due to the mismanagement of the administration.

  8. From the CPN-EMU says:

    This is a message sent to me from from the CPN, Campus Progressive Network (cpn_emu@lists.riseup.net)

    Tips, Ideas and Things You Probably Shouldn’t Do

    *Climb a tree on campus and refuse to get down until strike is settled *Swear at/spit on administrators *Drop all non-faculty classes, replace with classes taught by striking faculty *Take the semester off *Put Fallon’s picture on your dartboard *Smoke where prohibited *Wash your brain *Talk to commuters and freshmen *Occupy Welch Hall until forcibly removed (or strike is settled) *Kill for peace *Wear red for solidarity *Stop spending money on campus (bookstores, restaurants, etc.) *Use strike to pick your professors for next semester *THINK CRITICALLY *Buy more spray paint *Write songs that rhyme “ROTC� with Nazi *Ask questions *Catch up on your labor history *Remind on-campus workers to SLOW DOWN, or better yet, walk off the job *Leave returnable bottles out on campus- the bums will clean them up *Circulate flyers encouraging students to take advantage of the exquisite bathroom facilities in Welch Hall *Get giddy *Tear Pray Harrold down, brick by brick *Call for a general strike *Find out what conditions of labor are for other university employees *Steal chalk, commandeer chalk boards *Visit AAUP office in Depot Town, have them email you their fliers. Print them off in the library and distribute to professors *Obstruct roadways *Look for the pie in the sky *Drop out of business school *RIOT *Learn from history *Find out what Ypsilanti trailer park Iggy Pop grew up in *Engage in civil disobedience *Fake vomit in your hand once in awhile *Support the faculty- you may need it next*Brainstorm *Contract a venereal disease (we’re all doing it) *Find out where the administrators park- follow from safe distance *Drink more Faygo *Go to http://www.emu-aaup.org *Picket at the President’s mansion all weekend *Go to classes that aren’t your own and force talk about the strike *WAKE UP AND RAGE! (motherfucker) *Take advantage of your free speech rights *Always flip off news cameras, helicopters, etc. *Hug a teacher *Shake hands with every cop you see *Discuss “the revolution� *Chain yourself to buildings *Start a pirate radio station *Cut your boyfriend’s hair into a mullet *Don’t trust Republicrats *Make some wheat paste *Draft communiqués *Move to Ypsi (local politics are fun too) *Don’t fear arrest *Get your family involved *Decentralize *Sell your car *Learn Joe Hill songs *Burn couches in the street *Eat more vegetables *Listen to the Clash *Distrust all authority *Google “Oaxaca teachers� *Start a student union!*Get a handle (Cereal Killer) *Invest in an airhorn *Ride your bike *Go to the Vice President’s office and demand to speak with him personally *Stop paying rent *Ignore the dress code *Go on a shower strike *Burn Fallon in effigy *Ask an administrator what “binding arbitration� is *Talk with other campus employees about a sympathy strike *Tell administrators to “eat my fuck� *Don’t forget about the mansion or new union *Start a band and insist on playing right next to McKenny Union *Smoke em if you got em *Shotta Don *Produce a zine *Tell your grandma that “peace is for pussies� *Leave your contraband at home *Show no regard for the law *Learn about the history of Pray Harrold’s architecture *Network *Don’t trust the media *Picket the President’s mansion *Get subversive on their asses *Camp out on campus *Drink every time the administration tells a lie *Read Will Teach for Food *THINK CRITICALLY *Get class conscious *Take this opportunity to learn *Tie up administrative offices with questions and confusion (departments count too) *Let your dog shit on the President’s lawn *Paint only your middle fingernail *Rabble rouse *�Forget� your notebooks and textbooks *Park your car in the middle of the street *Tell your friends that “Fair Trade coffee is for liberals� *Remember that the professors are the only people on campus powerful enough to check the administration. If you like Eastern, support your professors *Encourage professors to remove the signs from their pickets, and just use the stick *And remember, kids:
    THIS IS NOT A POLICE STATE

  9. Steven D. Krause says:

    Wow, now there’s a comment! My favorite is to “THINK CRITICALLY.” Thanks, my CPN friends.

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