Teachers at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City say they’re being punished for forming a union. Faculty pay has been frozen while teachers bargain for their first union contract. The group filed a complaint with the state over the issue in late April.
The complaint addresses two types of pay increases that have been typical at NMC for teachers in the past.
It says increases for teachers based on seniority, called step increases, should continue because NMC is required to maintain “status quo” during contract negotiations.
The other pay increases are for the cost of living. NMC gave cost of living increases to other employees, including non-union, beginning in January.
Ted Iorio, an attorney for the Michigan Education Association says the school should treat its faculty like other employees.
“It’s really an attempt by the college to stymie and break up the solidarity that the faculty has,” Iorio says. “There’s just a sentiment that they shouldn’t be treated this way, and they are clearly frustrated.”
Vicki Cook, NMC’s vice president of finance and administration, says the college administration has not violated any employment law. She says the college is not required to increase pay while bargaining with the faculty union. Attorneys for NMC are looking at the complaint.
The dispute will be reviewed by an administrative judge in Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Faculty at NMC voted to form a union in March of 2015. They say the vote was a response to an administration that would not listen to their concerns or give them any say in how the college was run.
College president Tim Nelson has declined to discuss the teachers’ complaints. Nelson says NMC is bargaining in good faith.