Advance Notice: Briefs

Washtenaw Co. Circuit Court rejects EMU request for restraining order against striking employees

By: - September 9, 2022 1:56 pm

Eastern Michigan University’s Chapter of the American Association of University Professors voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of authorizing a strike. | Ken Coleman

On Friday, Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Carol Kuhnke denied a request from Eastern Michigan University for a temporary restraining order that would force striking faculty to return to work. 

Members of the Eastern Michigan University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (EMU-AAUP) voted in favor of a strike on Tuesday, after working for a week without a contract. The previous contract expired at midnight on Aug. 31. 

“The EMU Administration’s repeated unfair labor practices and harsh demands for astronomical increases in our health care costs are what caused this strike in the first place,” Mohamed El-Sayed, professor of engineering at EMU and president of EMU-AAUP said in a statement.

“Now that their unsupported claim for a temporary restraining order to force EMU faculty back to work has failed, it’s time to focus on good faith negotiations so we can reach a fair agreement that supports our students,” El-Sayed said. 

According to a statement from EMU spokesperson Walter Kraft, the university requested legal intervention due to “significant and continuing injury to students and others caused by the illegal strike.” The statement references a section of the Public Employment Relations Act 336 of 1947 which prohibits public employees from striking. 

“We’re disappointed the temporary restraining order was denied. We continue to hear from many students who believe they are being harmed significantly by not being able to attend classes and continue their education,” Kraft said. 

“As we’ve stated from the outset, our primary concern in filing this action was to get our students back in the classroom while negotiations continue,” Kraft added.

EMU-AAUP voiced frustrations with the administration saying it delayed the start of contract talks, failed to show up to meetings without advance notice, did not respond to union proposals in a timely manner, and has singled out union faculty in retaliation, violating laws governing Michigan public employees. 

“Any assertion by the union of unfair labor practices is completely false,” Kraft said. “The University has not committed any unfair labor practices associated with this negotiation process. The parties are simply having difficulty resolving the primary financial terms of their labor contract.”

The union’s negotiations team remains available to find common ground, settle the dispute and move the university forward, El-Sayed said.

While EMU-AAUP remains on strike, Kuhnke has set a hearing for Friday, Sept. 16 to consider a temporary injunction, ordering picketing professors back to the classroom. 

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson covers state government alongside health care, business and the environment. A graduate of Michigan State University, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He previously covered community events, breaking news, state policy and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.