WMU Board of Trustees approves updated contract with faculty union

Contact: Paula Davis

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—At a special meeting today, the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a one-year extension of the University's contract with WMU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the union representing faculty. The contract, originally set to expire early this September, now runs through Sept. 6, 2021.

The agreement calls for a 2.25% base salary reduction for faculty members in board-appointed positions as of April 1, 2020. The salary adjustment would be in effect July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. A retirement incentive plan is also part of the agreement with the faculty union. 

The updated financial terms of the union's labor agreement with the University come as WMU faces significant COVID-19-induced fiscal challenges in the wake of the pandemic's economic impact on higher education and other sectors of society, including the state's budget. As a result, University officials project a $45 million to $85 million budget gap for WMU in the fiscal year that begins July 1. 

"I greatly appreciate that our faculty members are working with us to help WMU address the unprecedented challenges of this health crisis and the financial toll it has wreaked. Students, their families and higher education institutions across the country are under great stress, the impact of which may be felt for years to come," says President Edward Montgomery

WMU announced in April that as part of addressing the University's projected shortfall, from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, the president and other top leaders would each take a 10% pay cut, next-level leaders would each take a 5% pay cut and all benefits-eligible, non-bargaining staff would see a 2.25% pay reduction. The University also imposed a hiring freeze, canceled millions in construction projects and is making other budgetary adjustments to manage the anticipated shortfall while preserving the institution's core educational mission.

"With the agreement that the trustees approved today, faculty members have joined our other employee groups in sacrificing when it is critically needed. There is no better evidence that all of Western is committed to navigating this crisis. Our students and their families can have confidence that WMU is united in overcoming any obstacle to maintain the high-quality education they have come to expect," Montgomery says.

Negotiators for the University and leaders of WMU-AAUP reached a tentative agreement on specific terms of the contract on May 17. WMU-AAUP's membership subsequently voted on and ratified the agreement on May 21. Find the board's full agenda and associated materials for today's meeting at wmich.edu/trustees

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