Subject: EMU Lecturers Say "Union YES!"
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 14:13:47 -0500
From: Jon Curtiss <curtissj@CONCENTRIC.NET>

Vote Establishes first Lecturer Union in Michigan

Detroit MI - Lecturers of Eastern Michigan University have voted 91 to 2
to unionize, establishing the EMU Lecturers Organizing Congress (EMULOC) as
an official collective bargaining agent and ending an eight year battle for
union rights.  The union is affiliated with the Michigan Federation of
Teachers and School-Related Personnel (MFT&SRP), AFT, AFL-CIO.

Secret ballots were counted by representatives of the Michigan Employment
Relations Commission.  The tallying process was observed by EMU Department
of Chemistry Lecturer Julie Frentrup, MFT & SRP Organizer Jon Curtiss, MFT
& SRP President Rollie Hopgood, and EMU Academic Human Resources Director
Catherine Rush.  The results indicated unusually strong support for
unionization, according to Robert Strassberg, MERC Elections Officer.

Over80% of the mail-in ballots were returned by members of the bargaining
unit.There are approximately 400 Lecturers on this Ypsilanti campus, as
compared to nearly 700 tenure-track faculty.  Of the 400, at least 115 will be now represented by EMULOC in upcoming contract negotiations with the
University,where the average salary for full-time Lecturers is $22,600 per year.

"Thisis a great opportunity for Eastern Michigan University to rectify what has
really been an exploitation of highly-qualified professionals," said Dr.
Tom Figurski, nine year veteran Lecturer in the Psychology Department.  "EMU
could take a leadership role in addressing a national crisis in higher

Emotions are running especially high for members of EMULOC's Steering
Committee.  Chuck Bonney, Lecturer in Sociology, remarked, "It's a
fantastic feeling, after 26 years of 'casual labor'," referring to the EMU Administration's legal tactic of asserting that Lecturers were casual
labor and thus undeserving of bargaining rights.  "I feel absolutely
vindicated," said Wendy Gouine, an English Lecturer finishing her third year on campus.

The next step will be negotiations between EMULOC and the Administration.
EMU Regents have recently appointed a new President, Samuel Kirkpatrick,
who is to start on May 15.  One of his first challenges will be to enter into
this complex situation and lead both parties toward a reasonable contract. Lecturer Matt Johnson commented, "The University may want to take note ofour margin of victory.  This is going to be a strong union.  We're looking
forward to finally being treated with the respect and dignity we've
deserved all along as hard-working, committed professionals."   Living wages,
year-round benefits, and job security are important concerns of the
Lecturers, who generate approximately 40% of the tuition dollars at EMU.

Although some lecturers are included in faculty bargaining units at Grand Rapids Community College, Oakland University, and Jackson Community
College EMULOC is the first autonomous union of lecturers in the state.  More than 10,000 lecturers work at state universities and colleges in Michigan. 

The precedent-setting court decision that confirmed EMU Lecturers' right
to form a union now opens the door for Adjunct Faculty and Lecturers
throughout the state to follow suit.  Collective bargaining rights may represent the first step in abating the dramatic increase in hiring of Lecturers instead of tenure-track faculty, a nationwide trend.
Jon Curtiss 
Organizer, Michigan Federation of Teachers and
School-Related Personnel, AFT, AFL-CIO
cell phone / voicemail: (734)  358-7004

for more recent news on this event contact: 
Julie Frentrup, EMU Lecturer in Chemistry,
EMULOC Organizing Committee: 313-531-2085, 734-487-0297
Jon Curtiss, MFT&SRP Organizer 734-358-7004