Judge makes both sides continue negotiations

An Oakland County Circuit Court judge told the Oakland University administration and the faculty union to continue bargaining for the new faculty contract “through the evening and all night if necessary” around noon today.


“If the state mediator didn’t think there was some hope, I would not be doing this,” said Judge Edward Sosnick.


But if the two parties aren’t able to reach an agreement by 10 a.m. Thursday, the judge said he will hold a hearing then and make a final ruling on whether OU’s faculty have to call off the strike and go back to work .


OU filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Tuesday afternoon, and the judge scheduled a hearing for today at 10 a.m.


But instead of holding a formal hearing, the judge brought both parties, their legal counsel, and the state mediator into his chamber for a couple hours to try to reach an agreement.


Henry Baskin, vice chair of OU’s board of trustees, said after the judge’s announcement that he believes the faculty will be back on classes Friday at latest.


“I wouldn’t be surprised if it got resolved today,” Baskin said. “I want the kids to know… don’t go home for the weekend because you’re going to be in school on Friday.”


He said it would be better if the two parties settled the matter between themselves rather than have the judge do it for them, because in the latter case at least one party would be hurt.


He also said he’s been told there are only a couple issues currently still being debated , and that neither is insurmountable.


“I don’t want to belittle the issues… but [there are] no issues that can’t be accomplished,” he said.


Joel Russell, president of OU’s chapter of American Association of University Professors that represents about 600 faculty members, said at a rally Tuesday afternoon that if the judge ordered the faculty back to classes, they will go.


Russell also said OU and AAUP had almost reached an agreement on most issues Monday night, but that a couple issues — health care benefits and faculty governance — have still not been settled.