Arbitrator rules in favor of Eastern Michigan University administration in dispute with faculty union over marketing of online programs

Ruling concludes there has been no violation of collective bargaining agreement

Arbitrator rules in favor of Eastern Michigan University administration in dispute with faculty union over marketing of online programs

YPSILANTI – An independent arbitrator has ruled in favor of Eastern Michigan University in a grievance filed by the school’s faculty union that asserted an agreement with Academic Partnerships (AP) regarding the marketing of online courses violates provisions of the union’s collective bargaining agreement.

Multiple references in the ruling conclude there was no violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The complete ruling is available online.

“There is insufficient evidence to conclude that the AP Service Agreement improperly violated the Shared Governance Provisions of the collective bargaining agreement,” according to the ruling, which was issued Jan. 10 and received by the University today.

Pages three and four of the ruling highlight the remedies that the union was seeking, none of which was granted, including a moratorium on implementation of the contract and publicly acknowledging a contract violation.

“We couldn’t be happier that the arbitrator affirms the important role that faculty have in designing and implementing curriculum, but that the AP agreement was in no way a violation of the collective bargaining agreement,” said Rhonda Longworth, provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs.

Academic Partnerships, based in Dallas, is an industry leader in partnerships with public universities to help expand online learning degree programs.

The EMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors filed the grievance on February 10, 2017, asserting that Eastern entered into the agreement without appropriate input from the faculty in terms of curriculum development, personnel and instruction. EMU entered into the agreement in November 2016.

The University countered that the AP contract is a marketing and student recruitment agreement that entrusts AP with recruiting new online students but leaves pedagogical control with EMU faculty.

The arbitrator agreed with that assessment, asserting that, “No (faculty) input is required for most of the services contemplated by the Academic Partnerships agreement – the recruitment of students, marketing of programs, technical support, etc. Those matters are not covered (by the collective bargaining agreement).”

The arbitrator said he understood the University’s interest in attracting new students along with the need for active communication with the faculty.

“Ultimately, if AP remains in the marketing, recruitment and promotion areas, there would not be a contract violation,” the arbitrator wrote.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.



January 12, 2018

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom