Judge orders CMU faculty back to work

MOUNT PLEASANT (AP) -- An Isabella County judge on Monday ordered Central Michigan University faculty members participating in a work stoppage to head back to the classroom.

The order ends a walkout by tenure system faculty that affected the first day of fall semester classes at the university.

Members of the Central Michigan University Faculty Association were on the picket line early Monday as part of what they're calling a "job action." Central Michigan's administration called it an illegal strike by public employees and headed to court to end it.

Isabella County Circuit Judge Mark Duthie signed a temporary order for Judge Paul Chamberlain ordering the faculty members to not engage in "any concerted work stoppage."

Faculty association leaders said members will be back in classrooms Tuesday.

"We will obey the court order and return to work tomorrow," Laura Frey, CMU Faculty Association president, said in a statement. "But this does not end the issue. The faculty remains strong and committed to securing a fair and equitable contract for members."

The Central Michigan University website on Monday afternoon said officials were "pleased" with the ruling to grant the temporary restraining order.

"We expect that all faculty members will comply with the judge's order immediately so the university can resume normal operations and we can provide the high-quality education our students expect and deserve," the statement said.

A hearing on the case is set for Friday in Chamberlain's courtroom.

The faculty association has about 600 members who are either tenured or in the tenure system.

The university asked students to report to classes Monday and said classes taught by fixed-term faculty and graduate assistants would take place as scheduled. It was not immediately clear Monday how many classes were canceled across campus because no instructor was present.

The faculty association has been without a contract since June 30 with disputes continuing over wages and other issues.

Central Michigan has about 28,000 students, including roughly 21,000 enrolled at the Mount Pleasant campus.

Published: Wed, Aug 24, 2011