Admin Has it a Little Twisted

Did you see what happened in the Record on Monday, May 7th? The U is stepping up their attempts to paint us as greedy and ungrateful, only now to the entire University community and broader public.

Rick Fitzgerald, University spokesperson on bargaining, contributed a piece about bargaining from admin’s position, in which he linked to bargaining updates administration has been posting on the “About LEO” page–from UM’s Human Resources team.

If you read Fitzgerald’s article, or any of the recent bargaining updates admin has posted, you won’t be surprised that they tell the story quite differently than we do. For instance:

“The university has offered significant increases to both the minimum salaries and the base salaries of existing lecturers.

The university also offered one-time equity base increases for lecturers in the first year of the contract as well as annual increases for all lecturers over the life of the three-year contract.”

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This language comes directly from the admin’s bargaining updates, which also say:

“Those increases would raise average annual salaries over three years to an estimated $79,000 in Ann Arbor, an increase of 16 percent; $46,000 in Dearborn, an increase of 18 percent; and $49,000 in Flint, an increase of 14 percent.

Currently the average annual salary of a lecturer, for eight months of teaching, is $68,000 in Ann Arbor, $39,000 in Dearborn and $43,000 in Flint.”

Yep, you read that right. Did you know we were so well compensated? We didn’t, either!

That’s because… we’re not.

Using “averages” to represent salaries for UM Lecturers across the board is very misleading. Averaged figures mask the fact that the many members who face serious financial struggles will not win much relief under the University’s current proposal, due to loopholes that apply to Lecturers who have served a certain number of years.

Using averages is a trick that admin uses to avoid addressing the numbers that accurately reflect the situation of Lecturers on all three campuses. There are a small number of Lecturers in cash-rich programs who make such substantial amounts of money that their salaries falsely inflate the average salaries of all Lecs.

To illustrate: if you average the entire Union Council’s salaries – the 8 council members make between $39,265-$78,820 for full time rates – it comes to $44,326. If you include just President Schlissel’s salary of $823,523/yr, our average salary suddenly becomes $130,904.

Unfortunately, the university is sending reports that are warped by averaged salaries and other misrepresentations via email to a number of University-affiliated groups. MLive picked up the story, highlighting the fact that admin intends to quit the contract on May 29th, and that admin continues to imply that we are being uncooperative in bargaining. This narrative leaves out the important detail that if we don’t reach an agreement with admin by the end of June, they can withhold our union right to automatic dues deduction, which is a union-busting tactic.

We provided MLive with information that more accurately represents the vast majority of Lecturers’ salaries, but the author of that piece chose not to use it. Instead,  the article reproduced the admin’s narrative, using the exact language of admin’s bargaining updates without citing them as direct quotes:

“Those increases would raise average annual salaries over three years to an estimated $79,000 in Ann Arbor, an increase of 16 percent; $46,000 in Dearborn, an increase of 18 percent; and $49,000 in Flint, an increase of 14 percent.

Currently, the average annual salary of a lecturer, for eight months of teaching, is $68,000 in Ann Arbor, $39,000 in Dearborn and $43,000 in Flint.”

Sound familiar? In response, our bargaining team manager and LEO Vice President Kirsten Herold wrote a statement to the University Record in which she says:

“This is a rather one-sided account of what is happening.  As LEO bargaining team manager, I do not appreciate the suggestion that somehow LEO is not bargaining in good faith…

LEO is as eager as management to come back to the table.  Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not true.

If bargaining is dragging out, it is not due to lack of efforts on LEO’s side.  We presented our salary proposal on October 27.  We received our first counter more than 100 days later, which was essentially a status quo proposal that enraged the members in the room.  Progress has been made since, but it has been exceedingly slow at times.”

Admin is misrepresenting not only our eminently affordable asks, but also our willingness to respond to reasonable offers. It’s no accident that they are getting more aggressive after classes have ended, assuming that we are losing community support.

We need to push back by packing the bargaining room on Friday, May 18th (starting at 9:30AM at Pierpont Commons on North Campus – follow the signs for the bargaining room) and even more importantly, showing up to the Regents Meeting in Dearborn on May 17th. The Regents will meet at 3:00PM at Fairlane Center South (19000 Hubbard Drive, Dearborn, MI), and we will have an action (with lunch) at Fairlane South courtyard starting at 1:30PM. Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/984365088411143/

Let’s underscore the point we’ve been making since October 27th: We will not allow our labor to be invisible and undervalued any longer. Nor will we allow the University to portray us as greedy.

 

#SOS #ShameOnSchlissel – ACTION NOW!

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel continues to deny living wages and equitable compensation to Lecturers, the non-tenure track faculty at the University of Michigan who generate $462 million in tuition revenue each year. Most egregiously, Schlissel is determined to direct far fewer resources to Lecturers on UM Dearborn and Flint campuses. Contact him RIGHT NOW to tell him this is unacceptable. He must listen to the Board of Regents, who have been clear in their support and respect for our fight for a fair contract.

Use this phone #: 734-890-5169
Email: presoff@umich.edu
Twitter: @DrMarkSchlissel

  1. Tell Schlissel to give us a fair contract with living wages on ALL THREE campuses, by the end of April.
  2. Let him know in your call/email/Tweet what leverage you have to care about this issue. Are you a donor? Tuition payer? Michigan taxpayer? Do you have press contacts that you’ll use? Are you planning on attending the May 17 Regents Meeting? Tell him this so he knows to listen up.
  3. Pick one of the following issues that remain unresolved at the bargaining table and let him know that it matters to you:
    *UM continues to unfairly disadvantage Dearborn and Flint Lecturers/campuses
    *Minimum salaries are still hovering near $40k/yr for Ann Arbor and $30k/yr for Dearborn and Flint
    *Equity compensation for long-exploited Lecs remains minimal
    *Admin refuses to approve a working title change to Teaching Professor to A) reflect the respect we deserve and B) make it possible to continue recruiting high-caliber faculty

Can you call TODAY?

 

No Money for Lecs in Dearborn, but $90 Million for a Building

by Alicia Schaeffer, Dearborn

Lecturers and allies protested the University of Michigan-Dearborn ELB groundbreaking to tell the administration that its priorities are hurting the faculty who teach the majority of classes on campus as well as students.

A group of LEO lecs and student allies hold aloft signs that read #Respect The Lecs.
LEO lecs and Allies protest groundbreaking with informational picket.  Photo Credit: Carol Hogan

During contract negotiations, management has told LEO that UM-Dearborn doesn’t have the money to pay for higher salaries and equity adjustments, and the surplus in Ann Arbor will not be distributed to fund salary increases on Dearborn and Flint. Yet, the administration has allocated tens of millions of dollars to fund construction projects in recent years, like the $90 million Engineering Laboratory Building (ELB) Project. 

On Friday, Lecturers, Students, and Allies marched on the Dearborn campus to the ceremony site next to the Chancellor’s Pond.

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LEO lecs and Allies protest groundbreaking with informational picket. Photo Credit: Carol Hogan

At first, Security told Lecs and Allies to move, and then, after the group stayed put, refused to start the ceremony until the chanting quieted down. Holding LEO signs high and passing out leaflets, the protesters chanted loudly between speeches, reminding those in the crowd and the press that “the Leaders and the Best, Must Respect the Lecs!”

 

Chancellor Little was one of the speakers, and Provost Kate Davy sat in the audience, alongside alumni, local representatives, corporate sponsors, and administration.

UM-D alum and LEO ally State Senator David Knezek spoke during the ceremony. Lecs and allies chanted his name as he walked to the podium to thank him for his support. State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, also a UM alum (Dearborn & Ann Arbor) and LEO ally, was in the audience and spoke with Lecs afterward to offer his continued support.

Keep the Pressure On

The other day some of us bargained while others occupied the Provost’s office. (Shoutouts to Tony Hessenthaler and Cindee Giffin for eloquently stating our case on local TV.) In Dearborn, lecturers disrupted the groundbreaking ceremony for the ELB. (Admin claims they can’t spare another cent for Dearborn or Flint, but somehow we can spend $90 million on another fancy building.)

Our message to the Provost and President: this ain’t anywhere near over.

We’ll be bargaining tomorrow at 6PM at Academic HR on the corner of Hoover and Greene–with a salary counter from them. On Friday, we’ll bargain at Pierpont Commons on North Campus again.

Keep your eyes peeled for further bargaining this coming Sunday and Monday, too, though we don’t know details yet.

SIX DAYS Left to Evaluate UM Admin

Hi LEO lecs and allies!

Just a note to amplify Ian’s email message going out this morning. We’ve been getting repeated emails reminding us to evaluate our university administrators. (“As a reminder, you can participate in the annual online Evaluation of Administrators at http://aec.umich.edu.“) This includes President Schlissel and Provost Philbert.

SO LET’S DO IT. We have until the 18th, which is 2 days before our contract expires!

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Picket sign by Alla Dubrovich

You may have heard that over the weekend Philbert sent a message down through an associate that we shouldn’t “think that [he] was moved by a bunch of form letters from students.” OH REALLY?

  1. That’s disrespectful. Students deserve ALL of our respect.
  2. They were NOT form letters.
  3. They included missives from allies from every corner of the community.

Maybe they’ll respect us when we tell them exactly what we think on their evaluations? Word is, a lot of people neglect to fill these in.

LET’S NOT NEGLECT TO DO THIS.

There are two or three questions in particular that have to do with how well they support teaching excellence and how they manage the university’s finances.

Well, we’ve SEEN the answers to those questions. Let’s remind them on their evals, shall we? 

Don’t forget to write detailed comments supporting your answers!

Don’t Dream It’s Over

On Sunday night, some lecturers were glad to hear there’d been enough movement from administration for the UC and bargaining team to temporarily call off our planned strike.

And some lecturers were less happy.

One thing we all agree on is that nobody is happy with our existing contract, or the way U of M has traditionally treated us. We also all agree that we are not taking the proposal admin offered Sunday night. Thus, we did not, contrary to some early reports, sign a Tentative Agreement, and we have no intention of taking this deal.

So what did the proposed deal look like?  Minimum salaries for LI/IIs would increase over three years as listed below.

Ann Arbor Dearborn Flint
Current $34,500 $28,300 $27,300
Admin’s proposal $43,000, $44,400, $45,000 (2018-20) $35,000, $36,000, $37,000 (same) $34,000, $35,000, $36,000 (same)
Our proposal $58,000, $60,000, $62,000 $54,100, $56,100, $58,100 $54,100, $56,100, $58,100

For LIII /IVs, add $2000 to all figures above.

On the equity adjustments for years of service, they are proposing between $200 and $470 per year of service (with long-serving lecs getting a higher adjustment). They offered this after repeatedly saying that no way no how would they move on the principle of equity between the three campuses. Find more detailed calculations here.

We have agreement that of those who make between  $80,000 and $95,000, the boost will be a combination of $$ added to the FTR and a lump sum payment. For those over $95,000, the entire equity pay will come as a lump sum.

Finally, annual raises were proposed as 2.5% a year in AA, and tied to tenure-track in Flint and Dearborn.

Obviously, Admin’s numbers are still far from what we’ve demanded, and there was no question of taking the deal. That isn’t what we voted on. The question we were presented with was this: Has the administration moved enough that we now believe we can get more by not striking than by striking? And though everyone in the large majority that voted “Yes” took a slightly different path there, “Yes” is where we ended up.

Why did we call it off?

  • They moved. The current numbers represent a move from “insulting” to “inadequate.” That may not sound like much, but it’s a break not only with the University’s practice throughout this contract campaign, but with the University’s treatment of lecturers since before the organization of LEO. The proposed raises that we pointedly did not accept are … also higher than our last four contracts combined. For Ann Arbor lecturers making the minimums, it is, by the end of three years, a five-digit raise. For Dearborn and Flint lecturers, it is, by the same point in time, close to that. There were at least a few in the room who literally never imagined we’d get this far. The administration needs to throw millions more at us for this to be over, but our mantra going into this past weekend was “significant movement, or we walk,” and we could not honestly claim that insulting-to-inadequate wasn’t significant movement.
  • We arguably get more out of not striking than striking. We believed that absent something bigger than a two-day strike, admin was not going to put much more on the table to reduce, say, a two-day strike to a one-day strike. Another way to put this is that, by 6PM Sunday, we were looking at an offer that already fully reflected the threat we were able to put together, and that, if we spurned it, we’d be looking at the same offer on Tuesday … having just played every last card.
  • We were voting on behalf of everybody. Many people signed up to picket because they wanted to picket. More signed expressly because they’d been told, correctly, by organizers or fellow members, that — say it with me now — “The best way to make sure we don’t have to strike is to be ready to strike.” Personally, I woke up Sunday morning absolutely convinced we’d walk. But when we voted, we all knew we had to weigh both these very numerous sets of people in mind.
  • Striking under our current contract would alienate the Regents and other potential allies. Members of the bargaining committee and the UC differ in terms of how much we believe the Regents are willing to or can help us. But their support in this campaign is public and unprecedented, and striking would have moved them out of the “support” column.
  • Retaliation from Lansing. We had wrestled with this possibility in a more general way throughout the campaign, and most of us felt that Michigan’s anti-union legislators are gonna do what Michigan’s anti-union legislators are gonna do, and that we can’t be ruled by such considerations. But a high-profile strike at U of M, occurring on the very day that legislators return from home districts, with an offer on the table that the press would be sure to characterize as “a five-digit raise,” along with all these other considerations, made this particular strike right now (not any strike ever) seem like less of a good idea.

As Jill Darling puts it: “Because we saw so much active support from lecs and allies who were willing to stand up on the picket lines, we were able to get stronger proposals on pay and equity than we have seen before. But these proposals are still far below our goals: to raise all lecturers out of poverty wages (eg. standard of living reports for all three campus counties) and to get pay that reflects our professional value.

And so we need to keep the momentum, keep putting pressure on the administration, keep demanding more. And we won’t settle for anything less than fair and respectable.”

We bargain again this Friday from 10-5 in Palmer Commons.

Maybe you think we should have struck. Maybe you’re thanking your stars we didn’t.

Either way, we all need to continue to show up.

(Updated Monday, 4/9) NO STRIKE TOMORROW AND TUESDAY, DUE TO SUBSTANTIAL MOVEMENT.

UPDATE 4/9: Good news! The five of us writing this post and press release together last night, at the end of a long weekend, input the Flint & Dearborn numbers incorrectly. We’re actually up to an $8,700 increase on those two campuses. 

Dear LEO members & Allies:

We have been in bargaining all week and weekend — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. After some very slow days, we have finally made headway on important points. On Saturday at 10 pm, they agreed to the concept of equity raises and how to do them. Today, we finally got some movement on minimum starting pay: a more than $10,000 increase in Ann Arbor, and over $7,500 in Flint and Dearborn. This is already the biggest salary gain ever, although still not nearly enough for a living wage.

We have reached this point due to the overwhelming support of members and students and other allies at the University and throughout the state, including Regents and other elected officials. Unfortunately, President Schlissel and Provost Philbert have not yet fully acknowledged the legitimacy of our demands.

Nevertheless, the progress made this Sunday persuades us to delay the job action for now, in the conviction that we will make more substantial progress. We feel empowered to keep bargaining for the coming days and weeks for the truly outstanding contract we all deserve.

In the next day or two, we will be announcing times for meetings on all three campuses, at which we will answer questions and discuss strategies to build on the power we have already generated.  

We cannot begin to express the gratitude we feel for the groundswell of strength and solidarity our members and allies have shown each other. This is not the end!