AAUP-NMU contract making progress

Hannah Fermanich

NMU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors is in the process of creating a new labor contract with the university.

The AAUP has been working to create a new contract with the university since the Winter 2012 semester. The negotiation team has continued to work with both the AAUP and the university’s administration through the summer to make a contract that is both agreeable to the faculty and the university.

“We’re faculty foremost, we’re here to teach students,” said Ron Sundell, president of NMU’s AAUP chapter.

Negotiations are currently underway between the AAUP and the university. Details about the proposed contract will not be available until a tentative agreement has been reached. Both parties hope to reach an agreement in the near future, Sundell said.

“Things are going fairly well now,” Sundell said. “We are hoping to have a contract to show faculty soon.”

According to Sundell, the process that goes on for contract renewal involves a lot of collaboration on both sides. There is a bargaining council made up of representatives from each department on campus. They in turn meet with the negotiation team who then works with the administration.

“From what I’ve been told, the process to finalize this new AAUP contract is making steady progress,” said Cindy Paavola, NMU Director of Communications and Marketing. “The university never discusses specific details of a labor contract negotiation until ratification, but it seems like the process to bring a proposal to a vote of the membership is moving in the right direction.”

Once a tentative contract has been agreed upon by both the representatives of the AAUP and the administration, the contract will be presented to the members of the AAUP and they will then be able to vote on it, Sundell said.

“When it’s time to negotiate new employee contracts, including faculty contracts, it can sometimes appear to be a slow moving situation to students, but that’s because it’s a complicated process,” Paavola said. “There are a lot of details to work through. It takes time, dedication and requires a good understanding of the big picture.”

In general, the AAUP works with the university to establish both financial and non-financial agreements for the faculty. The financial part determines faculty salary, retirement and health care benefits through the university. The non-financial side focuses more on providing sufficient funding for faculty scholarships and research in the different departments. It also establishes proper conditions for both classrooms and laboratories on campus.

“We don’t look at just what we get, but what it gives the university and in turn the students,” Sundell said. “We have to make sure we have the highest quality faculty.”

According to Sundell, the labor contracts with the university must be able to compete with other universities in order to draw in high quality teachers to educate the students.

“Northern Michigan University is lucky to have great faculty, most of whom make teaching NMU students their number one priority,” Paavola said.