Western Michigan University trustees have approved a new contract with the union that represents the university's part-time instructors. University Board members held a special meeting by teleconference on Wednesday, March 20th, to approve the agreement. Union members had previously ratified the three-year contract.
Under the agreement, part-time faculty at WMU will be paid at least $800 per credit-hour during the first year. The minimum pay rate goes up to $825 in the second year and $850 in the third. University officials say that is an increase of 3.16 percent in base pay. The contract takes effect in August.
WMU has about 650 part-time instructors. They formed the union in 2009.
The Part-Time Instructors Organization and the university began bargaining on a new contract last November. Union members approved it in late February but it wasn't on the agenda for the last regular meeting of the Board of Trustees. PIO members accused Republican lawmakers of interfering in the process. Some GOP lawmakers said that public colleges and universities that approved union contracts before Michigan's "right-to-work" law takes effect next week might be trying to get around the controversial legislation's provisions. They include a ban on mandatory union dues for all unions except those that represent police officers and firefighters. State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) later said those comments were only aimed at extensions of current contracts, not new agreements like the one with WMU's PIO.
The American Association of University Professors, which represents WMU's full-time faculty, had sought a nine-year extension of its current contract before the "right-to-work" law went into effect. But WMU President John Dunn says that won't happen because the Republican majority in Lansing has made it clear that such extensions are not acceptable.
This week a House subcommittee voted to punish the University of Michigan and Wayne State University by subtracting millions of dollars in state aid after they approved union agreements ahead of schedule.