By Krista Gjestland
Many Eastern Michigan University faculty members have not been receiving their payroll on time.
Several lecturers and union members spoke out on the issue during Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting.
EMU Federation of Teachers President and English professor Sonya Alvarado, who spoke at the meeting, says that payroll problems have been a common occurrence for several years.
“A lot of people have, for many years, had problems with their payroll,” she said. “Some of our part time, in particular, employees they have told me that is it a regular semester problem.”
Since part-time lecturers joined the EMU Federation of Teachers this summer, the union has taken on the issue. Alvarado said this fall in particular was bad, with some professors not being paid for anywhere from one month to three.
“In the fall there was a particularly large amount of people who didn’t get paid,” she said.
In addition to paychecks being late, some professors were missing bonuses and stipends from their checks, including Alvarado.
“I’ve taught an online class since 2004 and at the end of every semester I get a stipend,” she said. “I didn’t have that on there this time, and I had budgeted that for Christmas presents.”
Alvarado, who has worked at EMU since 1997, said the problem could cause employees to seek work elsewhere.
“One of the biggest effects is that we could stand to loose a lot of very good educators,” she said.
In fact, world languages lecturer Tatiana Knight threatened to quit before she was paid this semester.
Knight, who has been at EMU since 2007, wasn’t paid until November after telling her associate dean she would have to quit to earn money to pay her bills.
“No matter how dedicated I am I do not have the luxury to work for free,” she said. “I felt tricked and deeply injured. I shouldn’t have had to threaten to quit to get paid.”
Alvarado says the issue causes a morale problem among the faculty as well.
“There’s a morale issue going on here as well,” she said. “When you’re not getting paid, you can’t pay your rent, you can’t buy your food it affects your teaching. There’s no way it can’t.”
EMU President Susan Martin apologized to the employees who’d had payroll problems, assuring them that the issue was being addressed.
“Please be assured we are meeting weekly to make sure this never happens again,” she said.
Originally published in the Ypsilanti Courier. Used here with permission.