NMC requests MERC fact finding to advance faculty contract negotiation

TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) has filed a Petition for Fact Finding with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) in an effort to advance negotiations with the NMC Faculty Association affiliates of the Michigan Education Association. The NMC Faculty Association contracts both expired December 31, 2018.

NMC filed the petition on January 17, 2019, following several bargaining sessions including a State of Michigan mediator. Progress has been made on most non-economic areas with 34 tentative agreements reached on issues including faculty evaluation, academic responsibilities and sabbaticals.

Fact Finding allows a neutral, state-appointed representative to create a non-binding report on the remaining disputes. In the Petition for Fact Finding, NMC states:

Although parties were able to reach tentative agreements on almost all outstanding issues with and without a mediator’s assistance, the parties are now at an impasse over economic issues, including wages.

Wages remain in dispute. Specifically, after offering at least three alternatives from which the Faculty could choose (each of which the faculty rejected,) the College’s last proposal at the bargaining table included the following terms:
Salary increases (with Steps) ranging from 3.2% to 17% over three years, provided faculty member advances to the next Step under the Faculty Evaluation Plan. The proposal’s overall cost to the College is $543,812.

The Faculty’s last proposal includes a 4% increase (plus Steps) each of the three years, resulting in an increase of between 12.49% and 25.50% for Faculty over three years. The overall cost of this proposal to the College is $1.2 million.

“It is important for the long term success of this college, and its learners, that we have a system in place that is equitable and allows us to attract and retain talented employees,” said Vice President of Finance and Administration Vicki Cook. “The College’s proposal is based on state and national benchmarks and provides higher starting salaries in order to be more competitive for new hires. Throughout this process NMC administration has been dedicated to negotiating in good faith at the bargaining table. We will continue to do that while we look forward to the Fact Finding report.”

NMC Faculty Facts

  • Total faculty: 85
  • Faculty at step 20 (highest step): 32 salary $87,379
  • Median salary for faculty: $75,519
  • Most new faculty average starting salary: $53,000
  • Average benefit costs: 39%
  • Median costs for faculty with benefits: $104,971
  • Cost for faculty at step 20 with health and retirement: $129,352
  • Faculty receive additional pay for summer work or work over standard hours

Key Negotiation Dates

  • August 5, 2018, NMC administration requests dates to begin negotiations
  • August 7 NMC administration sends second request for dates to begin negotiations
  • September 11 Faculty Association offers meeting dates
  • September 19 negotiations begin
  • 2018 Meetings held
    • October 5, 12, 19, 26
    • November 9, 16, 30
    • December 6, 7, 10, 14
    • Meetings with mediator December 17, 20
  • November 15 Faculty Association requests mediation
  • December 31, 2018 contracts expired
  • 2019 Meetings
    • January 2 (with mediator), 11
  • January 17 NMC administration requests fact finding
  • Negotiations scheduled
    • January 25

RELEASE DATE: January 23, 2019


Diana Fairbanks
Executive Director of Public Relations, Marketing & Communications
(231) 995-1019


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. nmc.edu/non-discrimination