The Strike of 2006: Fallon on WEMU this morning

President John Fallon is on WEMU as I type this this morning. Here’s what he said:

  • Fallon the offer we got on Tuesday was no improvement over what we were offered originally; it was merely a rearrangment of the dollars.
  • For the first time ever, the reason he gave for the not great offer in the first place was poverty. Fallon claims that 67% of every dollar of expenses come from students and we just can’t afford these extra expenses. I suppose he means faculty salaries, but he’s conveniently forgetting administrator salaries, the football team, the new student union, etc., etc. And besides that: had they left insurance untouched, I think they could have given everyone 1.5-2%, not spent anymore money, and gotten a deal.
  • To paraphrase, “I care about faculty, but we can’t willy-nilly spend our money on just anything.” For sure! Faculty are the heart of the institution and our buildings are collapsing but jeez, we just can’t spend money on these things!
  • Fallon said fact finding could take as long as two months, even longer. Then he said he thinks that fact finding is a great idea, because it represents “stability,” even though it’s going to take “some months, eight months to a year.” (So, what is it? 2 or 8 or 12?!) I agree with him about the benefits of fact finding, and I think it’s something that I think both the union and the administration ought to consider next time at the start of this negotiating process. But a year?! How does this save the administration any money?
  • David Fair from WEMU flat-out asked if the administration would adhere to the fact finders findings. Fallon very clumsily stepped around that one. He said some pretty words about the recommendations, about them being public, etc. And then he said these recommendations “Cannot be summarily dismissed. That feature alone means that we can’t just walk away from the fact finding results.” Fair kept pressing him on this, but of course, no comittment was given. He did say at some point in this interview that he’s confident that the fact finder will find in favor of the administration.
  • They talked about the other contracts on campus. Fallon said that he didn’t think the faculty union contract would signal a different approach by the other bargaining units; rather, he had hoped that the deal they had made with the other units would have had an effect on how the administration negotiated with the faculty. First off, the only other bargaining unit that has a contract that I know of right now is the lecturers. Second, they got a pretty crappy contract. And third, what he was hoping has never happened here before. Because the faculty union is by far the largest on campus, we have tended to be the one that has set the pace for everyone else. It doesn’t work the other way around.

I’m sure the whole thing will be up on the WEMU web site soon.

6 thoughts on “The Strike of 2006: Fallon on WEMU this morning”

  1. Everyone at EMU is represented by a union except for administrators (i.e. AP employees). There is even a union for campus police officers.

  2. All fulltime employees at EMU is represented by a union except for administrators (i.e. AP employees). There is even a union for campus police officers. But you are right, unionized faculty is the largest group.

    In this case, the lecturers set the pace by caving on health care benefits first.

  3. hmmmm? This is hind sight here, but, perhaps, if faculty had stood united behind the Lecturer’s Union then they wouldn’t have had to cave on health care benefits. There are only about 100 lecturers, not enough to close down the school if they went on strike. Ideally, of course, all our contracts would expire at the same time, but since the administration will make sure that never happens, maybe we need to find ways to work together with the Lecturers. — Annette

  4. The lecturers did not “cave” on health care. Given the realities of our numbers, the situation that the AAUP faculty were not prepared to strike as well at the time and that lecturers are not protected by tenure, our leverage was limited. The AAUP leadership needs to do a much better job reaching out to the lecturer’s union, not denigrating its members as somehow substandard instructors. The best situation would be if all instructional staff were under one union.

  5. I think this stuff is really complicated and, quite frankly, political between the different unions on campus. I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect that one of the reasons why the AAUP didn’t bring lecturers into its union is it was afraid that the administration would use that as a reason to hire fewer tenure-track faculty and more lecturers and then argue “hey, it’s the same bargaining unit.” And then there are politics between all of the unions, not just between the faculty and the lecturers. I don’t understand why these different bargaining units can’t coordinate stuff, but they haven’t been able to date.

    I’m the interim director of the first year writing program, and that program pretty much runs on the backs (and blood and sweat and tears) of lecturers and part-timers. In an ideal world, I wish we had enough tenure-track faculty to staff all these sections. But given that we teach around 100 or so sections of English 120 and 121 a term, that would mean hiring the equivalent of 30-40 faculty. That ain’t gonna happen.

    The solution we have at EMU is to have a relatively robust union protected contract for full-time lecturers and a deal where we pay part-time instructors as much as we can. And you know what? These people do a great job for us, they really do. I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t value the work that lecturers do in our department and for our program because that just isn’t true.

    But there’s something more here worth pursuing. Regardless of our differences in jobs (and ranks and pay grades and all that), a pretty good argument could be made that, when it comes to union and bargaining unit issues, we all ought to get together. If 100% of the classes weren’t being taught during a strike, well, that’d be an ENORMOUS problem. I don’t know what we’d have to do to make that happen, but it would be interesting to pursue.

  6. Nice response to Fallon. I’d add that they had money (made it a priority) to put in curbs around sidewalks at $600,00 – 800,000, and that’s half the gap between the sides.

    More importantly, EMU has enough money to hire a lawyer fro Dykema Gosset at around $400 an hour to be at negotiations all summer; they have enough money to hire a big Lansing lobbying firm to PR to make us look bad; and they will be paying an outside consultant to prepeare the factfinder’s report. Maybe if they spent the $ on our salary rather than fighting us and making us look bad, we wouldn’t have some of these problems in the first place.

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