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September 10, 2006

On Strike for Labor Day (Part 10)

Life has been exceedingly busy, although the basic situation has not changed. The administration walked out of contract negotiations Sept 5 and refuses to talk with us while we're on strike. We don't want to call of strike. Conversations are difficult with those positions.

I've been busy with some special projects. Saturday was a crash course in drupal to get ready for the online petition we've created. If you didn't see it on our website, please consider adding your signature. We tried to keep it simple:

Because talks were progressing with the faculty union, you should not have walked out on the collective bargaining process. You need to resume talks, respond to the faculty union's last proposal, and finish negotiating the last several issues.

The administration should be trying harder to negotiate rather than impose a contract on faculty. Do the right thing so classes can finally start.  

Once again, you can add your signature by clicking this link [link removed now that the petition is down]. It opens in a new window, so if you're not sure, you can read the other parts of this series and then sign the petition.  

The ad for the Ann Arbor news came out Sunday morning and will run again Monday, along with an ad in the Detroit Free Press. The latter has had it's own share of labor problems, so they have pretty much reported what has been in the administration's press releases. Their editorial wasn't very favorable to us, but they were quite willing to take our $.

The ad for the AA news basically looked like:

EMU-AAUP faculty negotiating team ready to finish discussing the contract, but the administration walked out of talks, stopping the collective bargaining process.

Eastern Michigan University Faculty

- Ready and willing to negotiate

- Wants to be teaching students

- Offered to submit to binding arbitration

- Believes in bargaining to a mutually acceptable result and refuses to have a contract imposed on them

For more information: http://www.emu-aaup.org

Not bad for short notice, I hope. Some of the media buys are difficult because of the lead time papers typically want. If you need 3 - 4  days, then do we make the buy (pay at time of placement) and assume the strike is on? As it turned out, there was some room available on shorter notice that we took, so we had a few hours to get the ad and photo together.
Today we demonstrated at University House, although the president was conveniently not in. I'll have pictures tomorrow, but there were about 150 faculty there at the peak and 200 over the several hours the demonstration went on. Given that we have about 670 faculty, that's impressive - especially since we've all been demonstrating and picketing frequently since Sept 1 when the strike.
What's also great to see is groups of faculty starting to come together to think about creative ideas. The grasssroots is working now, and pulling together their own ideas and projects. Even as some will no doubt wander back into the classroom Monday and next week, others are energized. Open source activism - gotta love it.  
Obviously this next week is the breaking point. One side will need to give, or we'll both find a compromise to end this and get back to business.  At some point, there's going to be some serious developments. It's difficult to see past On Strike for Labor Day (Part 15), although I'll confess that I never imagined it would get to part 10.
In the meantime, I need to go to bed. But a few snippets:
From the Moving Ideas Blog

The right of faculty union to negotiate for its contract is as important as any union's right to do so. And the thought that the administration walked out without responding to the faculty's proposal is disturbing.

This country is great because it was designed to make policy deliberatively. Whether in Congress or at the contract negotiating table, if there is no discussion and working together to solve problems there is little hope for an equitable solution.

To view the EMU AAUP's petition, visit: [link removed and petition down].

EMU student newspaper editorial: Faculty Union Has Right to Strike 

America has long had an ambiguous relationship with labor. While we celebrate it with a long weekend, that holiday was shifted by five months in order to avoid recalling the Haymarket riots that precipitated it. While eight-hour days and overtime pay are an entitlement for most workers, the unions that achieved those victories are deemphasized even as those protections are eroded.

And when regarding labor disputes, much of America sympathizes with the owners and management even as concessions wrung from unions undermine the wages and protections of average Americans. Too often, the concern is more the inconvenience of a delayed flight or a missed class than solidarity.

The administration has negotiated in bad faith, walking away from the bargaining table before the start of classes. The administration has refused to seriously consider the position of the faculty. Furthermore, the administration has misrepresented and sought to cloud the issues surrounding the strike, polarizing the students against the faculty.

While the administration charges that the faculty strike is illegal, it is important to consider this in the political context of labor relations. Under Governor Engler, state employees were barred from striking, a move intended to bust teachers' unions. But we should all remember that illegal does not equal immoral, and that the administration's moral arguments are virtually non-existent.

The morality of striking, even though it inconveniences students, is founded in the belief of freedom of association and in the belief that capitalism is best served by allowing groups to exercise their power collectively. While it may be illegal, in this case the law is against justice.

Nicely said. The rest is also good and it was difficult not to reproduce the whole piece here, but It's worth the read.  

We also got a mention in the AFL-CIO blog. It's mostly just a mention of this blog, but people interested in this issue may like to check out the labor blog.  

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