Back to school

Oakland University students and teachers were back in class Thursday morning just hours after the faculty strike ended.

OU administration and the faculty union reached a tentative agreement on the faculty’s 2009-12 contracts  around 3:30 a.m. Thursday, and the strike that caused classes to be canceled since last Thursday was called off.

The two negotiating teams were asked by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Edward Sosnick to try to resolve the contract themselves before a 10 a.m. deadline on Thursday, when the judge would have held a hearing to make a final ruling.


The court’s involvement was a result of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction filed by OU Tuesday to get the judge to force the faculty back to classes. The reasoning was that the work stoppage was causing “irreparable harm” to students and the university.

Joel Russell, president of OU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors that represents about 600 faculty, said in a letter to the faculty Wednesday that “the [tentative agreement] retains and in some ways strengthens the shared governance provisions of former contracts, limits the use of term appointments, protects our intellectual property, and offers choices between our current type of health plans and healthy choice plans.”

The tentative contract still has to be read and approved by a majority of the union members before it becomes official. OU’s board of trustees also has to approve the agreement. The board’s next formal session is Sept. 23.

Lizabeth Barclay of the AAUP said the union is trying to work around teaching schedules to hold an informational meeting with its members about the changes made in the tentative agreement. According to AAUP bylaws, at least five days notice must be given before holding the meeting. After the meeting, at least seven days must be given so members can review the new proposed contract, and then take a vote. It may be 12-13 days before a vote is taken and faculty members decide whether or not to adopt the contract.

“Members have to decide on their own if they want it or not,” said Barclay, a management professor who taught classes Thursday.

All faculty members will teach classes in the meanwhile.

“We are extremely pleased to have found common ground on the issues that had been standing in the way of an agreement,” said Virinder Moudgil, OU’s senior vice president and provost, in a press release. “With a new contract in place, we can once again focus on doing the work that has made Oakland University the outstanding institution it is. Most importantly, we can look forward to getting students back to class, where they’ll benefit from the valuable academic programs we are committed to delivering.”

OU’s press release said the teams were able to resolve a number of sticking points, including the topics of shared university governance and compensation.
AAUP said in a press release that “the terms of the tentative agreement specify that faculty governance, the major issue at the bargaining table, has been preserved. Most importantly, the tentative agreement protects the faculty’s ability to block administration efforts to ignore the University Senate and other university institutions of governance.”

AAUP said the tentative agreement gives faculty a zero percent raise in 2009, then a 1 percent raise in 2010 and a 3 percent raise in 2011. But the 3 percent raise in 2011 will be open to renegotiation.

Another major issue, health care, has been resolved with a compromise, and AAUP said they also agreed to take a two-day pay cut, and according to them, OU said this was non-negotiable.

A summary of the details of the tentative agreement is available on, and the full contract will be available to the public for viewing after it has been made official.


The division of student affairs and enrollment management said OU is discussing whether to change some deadlines of the academic calendar like course add and drop dates to reflect the missed days.


The tentative agreement says no more than two days can be added to the calendar.


Freshman music education major Amanda Didur said she thinks the teachers were right to strike. “It was necessary, but it was unfortunate,” Didur said, and hopes the administration and faculty can still get along.


She said her teachers were apologetic today and adjusted the syllabus. “They’re not cramming anything,” she said and thinks her education hasn’t been hurt by the strike.


Read more strike related articles in the Campus section: