Western Herald – AAUP meets to discuss next move

AAUP meets to discuss next move

By Hunter Maybee
Western Herald

(Kaire Kuiper / Western Herald) AAUP members protests outside the Montague House in East Campus on Sept. 6

(Kaire Kuiper / Western Herald) AAUP members protests outside the Montague House in East Campus on Sept. 6

Negotiations between the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Western Michigan University Chapter and the WMU administration have still not been resolved.

With the possibility of a strike looming, many professors have taken the time to speak with their students about what has been happening with the AAUP negotiations.

“They are using their lectures to try and make us choose sides during class, said Secondary Education major Steve Smith.  Smith explained that he thought that it was inappropriate for teachers to use students time to promote their own viewpoints.

When asked about whether they believed a strike would be worth the cost to students, students were split.
“It is defiantly worth to strike for,” said Jo Gibson, a graduate history major.  “The administration has had more than enough time to meet the AAUP’s demands.”

Kyle Hawk, a mathematics senior agreed.  “I graduate in December.  Give them their money and let us stay in class.”

On the other side, Brian Muriuka, an Aeronautical Engineering sophomore said, “A strike is disadvantageous to the students.  It means more money that we have to pay.”

“It goes against the success of the students,” said freshman Art major Jordan Cleveland.

WMU President John Dunn said that everyone is trying hard to do their part.

“No one is interested in having anyone disadvantaged,” he said.

Ever since negotiations started beck in June, the AAUP has said that a pay raise above the inflation rate, about 4 percent, was needed to bring in more full-time faculty to WMU.

The AAUP also claims on their Web site, that the pay raises for WMU professors are well below comparable universities.

AAUP cites examples of professors in Central Michigan University have received a 3.5 percent increase, Grand Valley State University received a 5 percent increase, and Akron University professors received a 6.2+ percent pay increase.

“Western professors have taken pay raises below the rate of inflation for the last nine years,” WMU Chapter AAUP President Paul Wilson said about the negotiations in a previous statement. “We have been losing ground that whole time.  All we want is the commitment to begin the process of catching up.”

“We are not asking the administration to raise us up all at once,” Allen Zagarell, professor of anthropology and a member of the AAUP negotiating team said earlier in the year. “We don’t expect to catch up in one contract.”

The AAUP contract expired on Sept. 6.  A mediator from Lansing was brought in to act as an intermediary between the AAUP and the WMU administration.  Mediation failed to bring about a compromise.

Throughout the negotiating process, the AAUP has held demonstrations that have drawn an increasing number of unhappy faculty.  The most recent was held during the WMU football game on Sept. 6.

The negotiating teams met Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.  At the time of publishing, there was no news from inside the negotiating room.

During the last meeting on Sept. 4, the teams were in negotiation for nearly seven hours.  Jo Wiley, Vice President of the AAUP WMU chapter said yesterday, “We still have a lot to cover.”

Both sides have no desire for a strike and “are still hopeful for a positive outcome,” said Caulfield.

“Students should continue to go to class and allow us on our end … to work through in a way that responds affirmatively,” said Dunn.  “The last thing we want to see is anything that leaves our students in a disadvantage.”

Students agreed.

“While it would be worth it to increase teachers pay, I hope both sides can reach a compromise without a strike,” Steve McDonald, a Spanish senior said.

— Sara Waisanen, editor-in-chief, contributed to this report

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