Faculty at Central Michigan University have been without a
contract since June 30 for the first time in school history. The agreement in
place was allowed to expire without extension.
Bargaining teams for the administration and the faculty
association begin the fact finding process today in hopes of coming to terms on
a new collective bargaining agreement.
On July 14th, the university and faculty
association petitioned for fact finding through the Michigan Employment
Relations Commission. Barry Goldman will serve as the appointed fact finder.
Since then, there has been no formal bargaining. FA
President Laura Frey said the union has and does prefer to be at the table...
Robert Vercruysee is the Employment and Labor Relations
Council for CMU he will present the university's case at the hearings. He said
there was a breakdown in communication that led to a delay in moving forward
with the fact finding process...
Vercruysee adds that the fact finder tried to schedule pre
hearing conferences, but, in his words the faculty was not available.
Laura Frey said in her view, the process has been hurried
along by the university in an attempt to move negotiations away from formal
The fact finding process is not binding. Both sides
acknowledged this as we sat down for interviews for this story, but there are
at this point differing interpretations as to what will happen as the process
Robert Vercruysee said the law did not give public employees
the right to strike, but did grant the right to mediation and fact finding. He
said the report coming from the fact finder is, in effect, the basis for a new
collective bargaining agreement or contract...
Laura Frey believes the report is meant to render a
perspective on the case made by both sides. But further, bring both sides back
into formal discussions toward a new contract. She said, that was made clear to
her by the Judge Paul Chamberlain's ruling on August 26th...
The FA president believes in her side's case as does the
university, as both sides enter the fact finding process. Laura Frey's concern is
with the potential outcome, her belief that CMU plans to at some point impose a
contract on the faculty. She said, based on the terms as of July 14th
when talks broke off between the two sides...
Robert Vercruysee maintains his position in representing the
university that this fact finding process will lead to a fair and equitable
deal for both sides...
Three fact finding sessions have been scheduled. One
additional session date has been set aside for Wednesday, September 14th.