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Oakland University professors go on strike

Oakland University Campus
Oakland University

Oakland University professors are on strike Thursday after their contract expired at midnight. Oakland’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors and university administrators have been bargaining a new contract since May.

The strike means the first day of classes is canceled, but OU administrators say students should still go to class and wait 15 minutes or contact their instructor to find out if their class will be held.

The union representing more than 880 faculty members says the university wants to significantly lower faculty pay, and make cuts to benefits and retirement contributions. The union would like to see more pay and benefits for part-time instructors.

Karen Miller is a history professor who heads the faculty union. She says another sticking point is control over future program and curriculum decisions.

“Basically, they just want to be able to make those decisions. And to be able to merge departments, and to create new departments if they want to," she said. "And we find that very troubling for the long-term health of the institution.”

University officials cite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in enrollment as reasons to reduce pay.

OU increased tuition by 4.2% for this school year.

Contract negotiations start up again Thursday, and professors plan to picket until an agreement is reached.

This post was updated at 4:36 p.m. on Sept. 2.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
Lauren Talley is Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition producer. She produces and edits studio interviews and feature stories, and helps manage the “Mornings in Michigan” series. Lauren also serves as the lead substitute host for Morning Edition.
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