BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A day after a judge ordered them back to class, some Ferris State University faculty were back on the picket line, demanding a better contract.
Several teachers demonstrated Tuesday morning in Grand Rapids, where Ferris State has some classes. A larger group walked the picket line on the university’s main campus in Big Rapids, holding signs reading “no contract, no work.”
The last faculty contract expired June 30 and the two sides have been unable to agree on a new one.
The biggest sticking point is the annual pay increase. The Ferris Faculty Association's last offer was a 2.75 percent increase yearly over three years. But the administration proposed a 1.5 percent increase yearly over five years.
A university spokesperson said the offer is “fair and equitable” as the school faces declining enrollment. She said the administration doesn’t want to pass costs on to students by raising tuition.
But the union doesn't buy it. The Ferris Faculty Association argues the administration's proposed pay increase doesn't keep up with the cost of living.
Monday, a Mecosta County judge issued an injunction, ordering the teachers to return to their classrooms, but allowing them to continue to picket during free periods. It’s unclear how many people were following that order Tuesday.
“We just hope that people will get behind us and we can get this contract settled and we can just get back to doing what we love to do, which is teach our students,” said Katherine Harris, who is an associate professor in English at Ferris State.
Approximately 450 Ferris faculty participated in the strike Monday, which was also the first day of fall classes.