Students reported for class Thursday at a suburban Detroit university hours after professors reached a tentative agreement that ended a weeklong strike.
The three-year deal at Oakland University included more money for professors in the second year of the proposed contract, expanded health care choices, and it allowed faculty to have say on the school’s future, according to the union.
“This agreement proves beyond a doubt that we faculty were never concerned with economics,” said Karen Miller, vice president of the union’s chapter that represents 450 faculty members at the public four-year institution.
Professors on the 18,000-student campus went on strike Sept. 3, the day classes were to begin, after the university proposed a three-year wage freeze along with cuts in health-insurance benefits.
“We are extremely pleased to have found common ground on the issues that had been standing in the way of an agreement,” Virinder Moudgil, the university’s senior vice president and provost, said in a statement. The school said it would not comment on the details until the contract was ratified. The union said it likely would ratify the contract at the end of September.
Students said it was good to return to the largely commuter school in Rochester, about 20 miles north of Detroit.
Gary Duma, 25, of Novi, a doctoral student in mathematics, waited outside a classroom building eating a Pop-Tart. He said he knew the strike wouldn’t last long.
“I slept in, enjoyed myself and spent time with my woman,” Duma said.
Some grew weary of the strike.
“At first it was all right, because I got a break. But after a while, it got ridiculous,” freshman Adam Suddon, 18, of New Haven said while waiting for his algebra class to begin. Suddon, a biomedical engineering major, said much of his week was spent watching television, meeting people and playing video games.
Faculty members also were excited to return to class.
English professor Ed Hoeppner, 58, said he will use the strike as a teaching tool.
“It’s great to be back,” he said.
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