Central Michigan University’s board of trustees approved a motion Thursday allowing university officials to collectively bargain with three of nine union groups on campus.
The Faculty Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for service maintenance employees, and the Police Officer’s Association of Michigan for police employees contracts all expire on June 30.
Approval of the motion allows university officials to negotiate new three-year contracts with representatives from the unions.
“What the board approved today was for me to negotiate and ratify and sign agreements with three bargaining units,” said University President George Ross. “There was frankly some tension (during the) negotiations with the Faculty Association last time. We believe the environment is much more positive this time.”
Ross said he and a few administrators met with representatives of the FA bargaining group the day before the board of trustees meeting to discuss open communications.
“We were encouraged yesterday when the bargaining committee of the Faculty Association asked to meet,” he said. “(We have a) commitment on both parts of the Faculty Association and the university so we can have a positive environment. From the administrative standpoint, we are going to improve our communications. I’m looking forward to it.”
Board of Trustees Chairman William Kanine said he believes negotiations between the unions and employers are an important part of the work process.
“As a trustee, I think unions and bargaining are a part of the business on campus,” Kanine said. “I don’t think it has to be contentious. There’s two sides that believe strongly in something and they’ve got to sit down and work it out. However that is defined, I think we’re doing good things.”
The FA held protests in 2011 during the last round of contract negotiations. The faculty body also threatened to strike during this period where they were supported by the Union of Teaching Faculty on campus during their work stoppage.
Both sides of the negotiations are trying to communicate better than they did last time, Kanine said. He believes better practices can get the negotiations done faster and done right.
Ross hopes to have his negotiating team together within the next two weeks so the bargaining teams can meet soon and start talking contracts.