The adjunct faculty at Macomb Community College approved a three-year agreement in November, but the Board of Trustees this week approved a new contract for the bargaining unit that extended the agreement for five years.
The change occurred Tuesday, the same day House Republicans proposed a 15 percent funding cut to higher educational institutions that approve labor contracts before the state's right-to-work law goes into effect next Thursday.
Three other MCC bargaining units' contracts also were approved Tuesday, all with the intent to circumvent the state's right-to-work law, said Frank A. Cusumano Jr., a board member.
An active Republican, Cusumano said he didn't agree with passage of the right-to-work legislation during a lame-duck session and its attachment to an appropriation measure, which shields the law from a referendum. At the same time, he said what the unions are doing is inappropriate.
"It's just as bad as what the Republicans did: they are manipulating the process in order to get results," said Cusumano, who voted against the contracts.
Jeanne Nicol, an MCC spokeswoman, said the new agreement incorporates a major change from the previous contract, establishing a yearly cap on teaching assignments.
"The major difference is the hours that the faculty can teach," Nicol said. "This was put in place to manage staff and expenses."
In exchange, the administration agreed to extend the contract for another two years, to 2018.
She added that all four contracts advanced the college's goals, such as longer-term planning cycles to optimize resource usage and reasonable pay and benefits to ensure retention of staff.
Officials from the Association of Adjunct Faculty of MCC and the other unions at the college could not immediately be reached for comment.