Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Labor Day Follow-Up: Eastern Michigan University

Following up on my Labor Day post from earlier this week, Inside Higher Ed reports on a very tense union situation at Eastern Michigan University. The union and administration appear at a standstill, with a possible strike looming in the future. The strike however is complicated by Michigan law which forbids public employees from striking (EMU faculty fall into this category).

The story presents many of the union arguments, though that’s not Inside Higher Ed’s fault. For some reason, the university didn’t really say much in their defense – but if you want to see their side of the story, you can download a fact sheet here with their proposal.

In any case, the real losers here will be students, who could be forced to start their classes without some full-time faculty (adjuncts and other professors who are not members of the union would fill-in). With college being so expensive, shouldn’t universities that have to negotiate with unions possibly have “no strike clauses” specifically in their contract language? Or, to eliminate any arguments over whether professors are “public employees” or not, state legislatures should have it written into state labor law that professors at public universities (even unionized ones) must teach as soon as the school year begins. According to EMU’s own website, the students there pay over $15,000 when you add together all of their fees, tuition, and room and board. At the very least, they deserve a faculty that shows up for work! If that doesn’t happen, then maybe the state or university should get some sort of refund on their tuition bill? Why should students have to pay full price when they are getting a lesser education?

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