Oakland University faculty, administrators at contract impasse

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Hours before fall semester classes are set to begin at Oakland University, the college's faculty union is still far apart on negotiating a new contract with the Rochester school's administration.

The contract, which covers 880 faculty members, expires at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Classes begin Thursday.

Karen Miller, president of the American Association of University Professors, Oakland University chapter, said the union and university are working with a mediator but there are still "significant differences."

Hours before fall semester classes are set to begin at Oakland University, the college's faculty union is still far apart on negotiating a new contract with the Rochester school's administration.

"Our goal is to get a fair and equitable contract by tomorrow (Thursday) at 8 a.m.," said Miller, who is an associate professor in OU's history department. "We are hopeful that is something that can happen."

Sticking points are compensation for full- and part-time faculty and health care, wages and job security for 250 part-time faculty, Miller said.

If the contract is not resolved by Thursday, Miller said a series of activities could take place, including a strike.

"There are many ways in which we can demonstrate to the administration and community that we are important and without our services important things don’t happen as smoothly as they might," said Miller. "We would much rather return to class and teach."

OU officials said they are waiting to hear the latest update on negotiations.

"(The) OU negotiating team is still meeting with faculty reps and state mediators," OU spokesman Brian Bierley said Wednesday evening. 

He said the university hopes to resolve the remaining contract issues as soon as possible with "minimal disruption to fall classes."

"Meanwhile, all University operations, support services and extracurricular activities

will continue on their normal schedules (Thursday) for the first day of classes." 

The contract expired on Aug. 14, 2020, but was extended a year. Negotiations began in May. When a resolution was not reached on Aug. 14, 2021, the contract was extended again to Wednesday's deadline.

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com