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WMU's union for part-time instructors signals that wage talks are not going well

The union's interim president and communications officer spoke at a Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 28.

Fliers that bear the Professional Instructors Organization's logo have appeared on and around campus in recent weeks, comparing pay for adjuncts unfavorably to wages at McDonald's and accusing the university of paying "poverty wages."

And at a recent Trustees' meeting, comments from two officers of the union suggested negotiations on wages were making little headway.

The officers said Western does not pay adjuncts a living wage and said negotiators had not been responsive to their concerns. Interim communications officer Katherine Harte DeCoux read comments from part-time faculty.

“The base wage was $700 in 1999 and is only $1,050 now, 24 years later," she said. "How much has Western’s tuition gone up in that time? 400 percent?"

“The rent for a modest house near campus is now triple what I paid for it 20 years ago," she added, continuing to read from member comments. "And we all need additional jobs just to make ends meet.”

PIO Interim President Tim Bober suggested the university could afford a more substantial pay raise than it’s offering.

“WMU has presented no data to justify their proposals besides that a 4.8 percent raise is good or normal. A 4.8 percent raise is good for professors making $60,000-$100,000, but not for PIO professors who make $20,000 or less.”

Neither Western Michigan University nor the PIO responded to a request for comment.