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AAUP Protests WMU Salary Proposal

Several dozen people with colorful signs stand on a sidewalk. Bailey is wearing white pants and holding a sign that says "WMU works because we do"
Sehvilla Mann

Western Michigan University’s faculty union says contract negotiations with the school have reached an impasse. At a rally Wednesday morning, members and supporters of the American Association of University Professors called for a higher offer.

The demonstrators gathered along Oakland Drive, holding signs with messages like “What happened to being essential?” The show of force came as the union rejected what it called an unreasonably low offer for faculty salaries. AAUP President Cathryn Bailey said Western can pay more than it’s offering. And she said it ought to, given that faculty members lost pay and took on extra teaching at the height of the COVID pandemic.

“It feels especially insulting for that to happen after we’ve made those sacrifices, and again, made them because we were asked to do so, we were called to service and we stepped up,” she said.

“Our members are more motivated, I would say, then I have ever seen them. And I’m not surprised – that’s what happens when people feel that mistreated,” Bailey added.

Sociology professor and AAUP member Angie Moe said the university makes a similar low offer every contract cycle.

“Why do this?” she asked. “You have the money. Everybody has gone through a really difficult year. We have all sacrificed. Why not just show us the respect and move into the semester with a more positive collective narrative?”

Bailey wouldn’t say how much the union is asking for, or what Western offered. She did say all options are on the table including a strike.

In a written statement, WMU spokeswoman Paula Davis said the university was negotiating in good faith.

“Historically, WMU has aimed to pay competitive wages that help ensure a high-quality experience for our students, and that continues to be our goal,” she wrote.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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