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September 04, 2006

On Strike for Labor Day (Part 6)

I've removed the question mark from the earlier posts because we are on strike and it is now labor day. The question is how long after Labor Day the strike will continue, and what will happen with the administration's threat to suspend negotiations tomorrow night. How many parts will this series have?

This morning, a group of us went to march in the Detroit Labor Day parade. Of course many people knew of our strike and were supportive, and I was glad to give a shout out to the Detroit teachers. As brutal as this negotiation and strike have been, theirs is even worse. I heard on the news that they have had clergy in to help build trust between the parties, and some people had been in the negotiating room for so many hours they no longer knew what day it was.

marching to protect public education and classrooms 

With unions like the UAW there, a bunch of college professors were a bit of an anomoly. But the issues of wage cuts, health care, and working conditions are universal concerns.

 

The team convened at 3:30 pm, and negotiations began at 5. They had a proposal for us that was a step in the right direction, but unacceptable on an absolute level.  <sarcasm> Of course we can count on inflation to moderate, so this isn't as bad as it seems </sarcasm>.

In order to make some progress, we decided to focus on health care and come to some agreement on "concepts" and a "framework."  I'll have to do some postings after the contract is ratified to fill in some of the generalities that are necessary because of the process. What is apparent to anyone reading through these entries is how much time has been spent on health care, and how strongly faculty feel about their health care (see pictures as you scroll through the other posts).

We made a counter offer on health care, and they came back with a counter-counter offer. While the first offer of theirs had some positive elements (while being unacceptable), the second one showed no movement in terms of cost to us in the first year. They moved around who would pay how much, but seem to have quickly hit a wall (again..and again and again).   

I'm sure Tues will be interesting with their threat to suspend negotiations. Will they really try to do something productive, or be provocative and try to get us to do something that would be an excuse to walk out of talks?

I noted earier that the process of negotiation combines elements of the quote about how making law and sausage are unpalatable process plus some brinksmanship. Tension certainly continues to ratchet up and today will be crazy. If I don't post anything tomorrow, it's because we're negotiating all night, or we went so late I came home and collapsed. Of course, if they walk out at 10, then I have plenty o time to do an update.

As a postscript, I did want to note that going to the Labor Day parade made me appreciate the idea of solidarity more (beyond the connection of the issues were are all struggling for that I wrote about in the previous post). I really got a sense of that, and the feeling has been extended by having Ernie Benjamin for the national AAUP with us during this last part of negotiations. He's been extemely helpful and generous with his time. Last night, the president of the national AAUP flew in. (That's probably a hint about how they expect this negotiation to go - he doesn't have time to fly to all negotiations or strikes.)

For the EMU faculty reading this, remember that there's  agood team with the support of the national AAUP and two talented labor lawyers. Other unions on campus are very supportive, as are the unions in the area. You're also now very much part of the team through the picketing and activities to make the strike effective. Your strength gives us much better bargaining position.

emu-aaup at detroit labor day parade 

Parade

Start 9am

Finish: 1pm

Negotiations

Start 3:30 pm

Finish 1am 

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Paul

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