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WMU, Adjuncts Could Finish Negotiations Friday

A handful of people stand along the edge of a busy street and hold signs saying things like "We are WMU" and "We are essential - pay your workers."
Sehvilla Mann

Part-time instructors at Western Michigan University are unlikely to win a substantial raise in their next contract. But as negotiations wrap up possibly as early as Friday, the Professional Instructors Organization says it has made some gains.

Members of several unions gathered at Western Michigan University this morning in support of the school’s part-time instructors as they look to finalize a contract.

The adjuncts rallied outside Western’s administration building on Thursday morning, joined by full-time faculty, AFSCME members and graduate student teachers. Then they moved down to Stadium Drive, drawing support from motorists.

A contentious request

The adjuncts asked for a roughly 50 percent increase in their base pay – from $1,050 per credit hour taught to $1500 per hour. A typical class is three credit hours, and three classes, or nine credit hours total per semester is considered a full load for a part-time instructor.

Western called the PIO’s request excessive. But American Association of University Professors president Cathryn Bailey doesn’t think so.

“Their salary demands still put them below the poverty wage,” she said as she stood with PIO members near Stadium Drive Thursday morning.

Jasmine LaBine is the president of the PIO. She said adjuncts’ base pay is so low, a 50 percent hike is not as big as it sounds.

“Fifty percent of a small amount is still a very small amount,” she said.

“We have momentum now”

LaBine says the union has won some victories in the new contract.

“We have better protections of our intellectual property, particularly online,” she said.

“We have increased our duration of Instructor II status, which is kind of our tenure, so folks will not have to renew for five years, whereas before it was four years, and that’s a pretty lengthy process,” she added. “It’s really nice to be able to extend that for our members.”

LaBine also says the union will keep fighting for higher wages.

“Even if we don’t get the contract that we want, we have momentum now and we’re going to keep that momentum going as we move into the next two years.”

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