EMU Wants to Lower The Value Of All Our Labor. Let’s Help EMU Faculty Stop Them.

The administration at Eastern Michigan University apparently doesn’t think much of the work lecturers do. To wit, they want to cut the salaries of lecturers who already make less than $15,000 a year by 25%.

But I work for the University of Michigan system, you think. Surely, it can’t happen here.

If we demonstrate by our action, or inaction, that this kind of treatment is OK for EMU lecturers, we’re telling our own bosses what they can get away with.

So I plan to be in Ypsilanti at the EMUFT rally outside Welch Hall on Friday morning at 9:30. (EMUFT is the union that represents Ypsilanti lecturers.) I don’t have full details on the rally at this time, but, if you’re a LEO member, check your email and let our President Ian Robinson know if you’re planning on coming. He’ll keep you in the loop.

A Simple Way To Help UM Grad Students

Today’s note from LEO President Ian Robinson laid out some ways that LEO members can support our graduate student colleagues in GEO during their likely walkout this week. As Ian points out, it’s important for us to advocate for GEO during their contract negotiations, both because of the essential justice of their cause—they’re striking for a living wage and for paid positions for diversity education—and because of their history of strongly supporting us.

Though we as LEO members cannot participate in the strike—which will begin Wednesday and continue Thursday if an agreement isn’t reached—we can educate our students on the issues their GSIs are fighting for before or after class, we can refuse to cross picket lines (simply find another route to your building), and, most importantly, we can make a few phone calls. We can call UM President Mark Schlissel at 734.764.6270 and UM Provost Paul Courant at 734.764.9290.
Let’s be honest: many of us LEO members would rather not do this. The stereotype of the awkward, absent-minded professor is mostly anti-intellectual nonsense, but it is true that many of us are more comfortable planning a lesson, conjugating a verb, or plotting a graph in R than politicking on the phone with a stranger. Because of course we are. Those things are our jobs, while talking to strangers on the phone is weird for everybody.
But desperate times call for desperate measures. I have learned to make political phone calls fairly comfortably since November 9, 2016. Here are some suggestions and observations I’ve gathered along the way:
1. Don’t worry: you don’t have to be pushy. In fact, it’s better not to be. Call the number, wait for a human to pick up, give your name and affiliation with the university (or just say “I’m a lecturer employed by the University of Michigan”), and calmly state your spiel.
2. Know what you’re going to say. Here’s a script that works fairly well: “I’m just calling to say that I agree with the Graduate Employee Organization’s demands and that I hope the university will agree to them immediately. Graduate student instructors should be paid a living wage, and diversity education is too difficult and too important to expect people to do it for free. Thanks very much! Have a wonderful day.”
3. Get in, get out. Say your spiel and finish up. You don’t have to add anything.
4. Be nice. The person who’s answering the phone is probably not the person who’s trying to keep graduate labor down! They’re probably employees like us, having a lousy time answering phones. Thank them for taking your call and wish them well.
5. Remember, this actually makes a difference. If phone calls can stop bills moving through Congress, they can change UM policy. The volume of calls LEO members make on behalf of this issue also serves as a reminder of our strength as a union: if we’ll make a strong showing for our sister union, what won’t we do on our own behalf?
That’s it. It’s really that easy. Call President Schlissel at 734.764.6270 and Provost Courant at 734.764.9290, say those things, and move on with your day. I have pretty bad social anxiety, and I just did it. You can too.

UM Lecturers Being Awesome: A Weekly Roundup (4/9/17)

University of Michigan lecturers are in the habit of being awesome. Starting with this post, your Communications Committee will be posting a small weekly sampling of said awesomeness. Are you a lecturer at our Flint, Dearborn, or Ann Arbor campuses? Tell us about the conferences you’re organizing, the pieces you’re publishing, and the awards you’re winning. Since we’re based in Ann Arbor, it’d be especially helpful to hear from our Dearborn and Flint colleagues, and since we’re mostly humanities people, we’d love to hear from folks in the social and physical sciences. Email items to chrip@umich.edu.

A group of UM-Dearborn lecturers led by Malinda Mansour, a Lecturer in Philosophy, presented a panel discussion, “Facing the Hysteria: Reproductive Justice and Philosophical Frameworks” to a packed house that included UM-Dearborn’s Vice Provost!

Clelia Rodriguez, a Lecturer in Romance Languages at UM-Ann Arbor, published this provocative post on faux-decolonization at the popular and much-read site Racebaitr.

UM-Ann Arbor English Lecturer Katie Willingham placed her poetry collection Unlikely Designs with Chicago University Press; it will appear in the fall of 2017 and is available for preorder. (Personally, I’m a big fan of her poem “Darwinist Logic on Humanity.”)

Shelley Manis of the Sweetland Writing Center at UM-Ann Arbor (she’s also a Comm Committee member) is leading a group that performs at Festifools in downtown Ann Arbor any minute now!

Finally, Ed Cho, a Lecturer in Economics at UM-Ann Arbor, won the prestigious Golden Apple Award, the Ann Arbor campus’s only student-selected teaching award. The University Record offers a rundown of his moving autobiographical speech (yes, economists can be both moving and autobiographical!) here.