This is our last blog post until after the holidays–get some rest in the way-too-brief break!
Our final bargaining session of the year took place on a cold and snowy Friday (Dec. 15th) in Pierpont Commons on North Campus. Once again, we had great turnout — more than 50 lecs, many from North Campus, took time off from grading and attended part or all of the day. (By the way, someone left a very attractive green hat in the room — please contact email@example.com to retrieve it).
The main events of the day were that management gave us response on our layoff article. On the layoff article, they agreed to increase compensation for cancelled spring and summer classes, which was positive. But they have no interest in our various proposals to improve job security for LIs. They also rejected, quite angrily, a proposal coming from some of our language departments that lecturers be asked for feedback in the review of their supervisors and that the feedback be communicated to the review committee. It seems to us a shared interest that we should have good supervision — but judging from their reaction, this would somehow challenge the entire academic hierarchy. We will continue to speak on this topic.
We also presented our second go on Appointments and Performance Reviews (for which we had received responses the previous week). We noted that in many cases they acknowledged that we were trying to address legitimate problems, yet they just crossed out our language, with no counterproposals of their own. We continue to assert that continuing renewals reviews till the day we retire are a waste of time and that once someone successfully completes a remediation plan they should not have to undergo yet another major review. We think there is a lot of review fatigue in departments around the U and that there are many other ways to supervise than to conduct regular reviews.
Finally, we had a very effective presentation from a member in Computer Science and Engineering who explained to management why it is important to have a title like teaching professor as a possible incentive for recruiting new lecturers. We hope to see movement on this point soon.
Bargaining will resume Friday, January 5 in Palmer Commons. Have a great and well-earned break and happy holidays to all, if you are so inclined.
LEO Bargaining Team
Yes, that’s right, this Friday’s Bargaining Meeting is in Pierpont Commons on the Ann Arbor North Campus from 9am-3pm (when you get to Pierpont, go to the info desk to find out where the bargaining and caucus rooms are). Now you may be thinking, I don’t even know anything about North Campus, how could I possibly have any fun going there!? Well, in addition to the good times that any bargaining session offers, here are some other suggestions for making your visit even more enjoyable… take a walk around and see if you can find these gems…
- The Bell tower: it’s a carillon, the bells can be played like an organ by someone sitting inside. Seems like it’s not much to see, but still cool while you’re walking around The Grove.
- ENIAC: the biggest remaining piece of the first computer is on display inside the vestibule of the Bob and Betty Beyster building, the entrance off The Grove. The helix-shaped staircase inside is pretty cool too. And also, it’s the best name for a building ever.
- The Duderstadt has an art gallery on the first floor and a computer and video game archive in the lower level… among other things.
- The 3 Cubes in a Seven Axis Relationship sculpture is in front of the main entrance to the G.G. Brown Building. Watch the video to learn more!
- The World’s largest Rubik’s Cube, inside the lobby of the G.G. Brown Building.
Even as we wind up the Fall 2017 semester, many of us are developing our syllabi and courses in Winter 2018. As you prepare your classes, here are some suggestions for helping students learn about the broader context of the U.S. higher education system and the Lecturers and other professionals who provide them with a prestigious education at U of M. Do you have suggestions or resources about this? Please share them in the comments!
- Include your rank as Lecturer in the instructor information section of your syllabus. Example:
Course: BEST CLASS EVER 202
Instructor: YOUR NAME – LEO Lecturer of XXXX
Contact information: BAT SIGNAL
Office Hours: 24/7
- Include one of these logos on your syllabus – some lecturers include the logo on the first or last page:
Some facts about Lecturers you could share with your students:
- When introducing yourself on the first day, explain that your teaching title is Lecturer. You may wish to describe differences between the teaching positions, such as GSIs, Lecturers, Tenure-Track faculty, etc.
- As Lecturers, our primary focus is on classroom instruction, though many of us do research, publish, perform, or present our work in professional venues. Mention your education, research interests, or expertise.
- Lecturers teach 56% of student credit hours on the Flint campus, 51% on the Dearborn campus, and 33% in Ann Arbor.
- LEO is the union of non-tenure track faculty at all three UM campuses. Since forming in 2003, LEO has lobbied to increase public funding for higher education.
- We support efforts to reduce student debt and to keep education affordable.
- We support smaller classes, so that students receive more individualized attention.
- We have worked with students organizations on different initiatives such to end sweatshop practices at the University of Michigan.
*More Info can be found at leounion.wordpress.com or LEOUnion.org. You can click on the link at the top of the blog page to see “The Bunsis Report” and learn more about revenue, expenses, and the roles of LEO Lecturers from a financial analysis at UM. And you can find LEO on social media: “Follow” the blog to receive email updates, find LEO on Twitter (@LEOUnionUmich) and Facebook (facebook.com/LEOLecturersEmployeeOrganization).
AND while you’re thinking ahead, don’t forget the first bargaining session in the Winter term is January 5th, at Palmer Commons. We need to be there!
Today we proposed a new section in the Faculty Support article based on a very simple idea: accommodating lecturers with disabilities is a moral necessity for a diverse public university. So we offered language to establish policies and procedures by which lecturers with disabilities can more easily request and receive reasonable accommodations.
Management gave us a counterproposal on Articles XI (Appointments, Major Review, and Renewal) and XIX (Performance Reviews), beginning what we anticipate will be a long back and forth. The gist of their counterproposals are that our current situation is basically fine and needs only a few small changes. In other words:
- We should should continue to be reviewed every few years for the entirety of our lives.
- Painful and draining remediation reviews should be followed immediately by another onerous round of full major reviews.
- Lec I’s should be happy being strung along semester by semester.
- Lecturers not granted renewal or promotions shouldn’t need written explanations for management’s decisions.
- Management has “no interest in expanding the number of working titles that can be put into the system,” even though many of our lecturers have great interest in being reclassified as “Teaching Professors.”
We were happy to see that they did support our proposal that upon mutual agreement of both parties, lecturers could opt to do a major review while on layoff (meaning at least those giant review packets can be compiled in the absence of grading papers), that the academic unit is responsible for initiating classroom observations required for reviews, and that adjunct lecturers should be able to get to their reviews more quickly.
The document they handed us replaced 99% of our suggested major changes to these articles with the old contract language.
These articles are major for us, and we think we can win, so we won’t give up easily on them. We hope you won’t either.
Our question is: Do you agree that the status quo is acceptable? If not, what are you prepared to do about it?
See you next Friday, 9AM at Pierpont Commons (North Campus).
Your Bargaining Team
Of course every one of you wants to come to bargaining on Friday. But life under late capitalism is super-busy, and we all have twenty scheduling conflicts a day to manage. (I’m skipping six worthy things just to write this post.) So maybe you teach all day, or you’re out of town. That’s OK! You can still help us out in a huge way this week!
How’s tomorrow look for you?
Here’s how my Thursday, December 7, looks. At 4PM, I’ll be heading to the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union, to support the Umich lecturers who will speak at the regents’ meeting. I’ll be wearing my LEO T-shirt and standing near my lecturer colleagues.
The regents a) have a lot of power; b) probably don’t know much about our situation; c) may in some cases be somewhat sympathetically disposed toward us; d) will definitely take us more seriously if we look like the kind of organization that can manage a large turnout. So pop in for a while. If you don’t have a LEO T-shirt, walk over to headquarters (339 Liberty) and get yourself one; they’re free and they look cool.
I know, I know—every LEO bargaining session is crucial. But it’s really important for you to come for as much of this Friday’s bargaining as you can. The reason is pretty simple.
All our bargaining sessions thus far have been “firsts” of one kind or another: the fall kickoff, the first Flint session, the first Dearborn session, the first central-campus Ann Arbor session. Most of these days featured opening rallies of some sort. Thanks to all of you, and to our organizers, we’ve had fantastic attendance at all of these so far—the best, as I am told by experienced LEO hands, since our initial contract campaign. That’s great, but if we really want to finish these negotiations with the best possible contract, we have to show management that we’ll be there when there are no rallies; when our allies can’t be there with us; when there are no “firsts,” just the hard, dull work of showing up.
I think our crowded rooms thus far have surprised them. But what will keep surprising them is a crowded room smack in the middle of the worst part of the semester.
I’m making this sound less fun than it is, though. Here are some reasons why, if you come join us for part or all of Friday’s negotiations in Palmer Commons, you’ll be pretty happy afterwards that you did.
- You can get so much done. I bring a big stack of papers and grade, grade, grade. It’s the presence of interested parties in the room, perking up now and then when management says something wrongheaded, that matters. I’ve found that going to bargaining means I don’t have to carve out as much grading time in the rest of my week as usual. My brain is shredded by the end of the day, but I teach first-year writing, so that’s always true on a full day of grading.
- Intellectual work is isolating; political work is the antidote. I’ve hit this note several times in my blogging for LEO. Coming to bargaining days has allowed me to meet more of my colleagues, put names to faces, and rediscover that feeling I had the first week of grad school: Geez, it’s fun to be surrounded by so many diversely smart people. It energizes the rest of my work.
- Free T-shirts. Our T-shirts look cool and you can have one for free if you come to bargaining on Friday. QED, you want to be there.
- Snacks. Nobody goes home hungry from these things, I’ve noticed. If you show up first thing in the morning, there tend to be donuts. Lots of donuts. They sit there for hours. Sometimes, in a spirit of shared sacrifice, I will eat the ones nobody else will. Lift this terrible burden from my shoulders. Show up for bargaining in the morning and eat all the donuts!
- You can see how this university is—and isn’t—working. I’m often impressed by the level of detail to which both bargaining teams are capable of going at a moment’s notice. It’s a reminder of the complexity of this vast institution we inhabit. At the same time, throughout this campaign, I’ve been shocked at the things the bargaining team don’t seem to know about teachers’ lives, and that we as teachers don’t know about each other. In a vast institution, sometimes the left hand forgets what the right hand is doing. Sometimes it doesn’t even know there is a right hand.—Phil Christman
Early on in my seven years at UM-Dearborn, I came to understand that our LEO lecturers are the powerhouse of the institution. Overwhelmingly, they are students’ first contact at the university as they teach our gateway and general education courses. They foster developing skills among our students as they teach our advanced courses. They assume incredible amounts of grading with their larger teaching loads, and often become involved in more service than their contract allows. They are left with little time to pursue their own research, making it more difficult to transition out of lecturer positions into jobs with security that we all desire. All this, and with the same qualifications as many tenure-track faculty, but for lower pay.
As a tenured member of the UM-Dearborn faculty, I support our LEO lecturers, and urge my TT colleagues to do the same.
Supporting our LEO lecturers is not just the right thing to achieve equity for the work they do. It’s mutually beneficial for both groups.
By raising the salaries of Lec Is, we slow the turnover rate of these lecturers, providing a more sustainable career path for lecturers while reducing the workload of TT faculty who have to search for a hire these instructors. Assuming a 40 hour workweek, a portion of new lecturers earn only $15/hour for a full load.
Increasing the number of Lec IIIs and IVs would not only provide equitable job opportunities for lecturers, but add members to programs and departments who can aid in service, thus reducing the service burden for all.
Reducing superfluous performance reviews and streamlining the review process – with, of course, clear expectations for the requirements of the new review process – would not only reduce the workload for lecturers, but for their review committees.
Requiring current qualified lecturers to be offered additional courses before hiring new lecturers to cover those classes would reduce the number of (often involuntary) part-time lecturers. More full-time lecturers means better pay and less stress on lecturers who often split time among many campuses, away from their families, and less of a load on TT faculty who must hire and juggle the schedules of many part-time instructors.
At a basic level supporting our lecturers is about supporting our colleagues in earning a living wage, a right that we all deserve. But it also strengthens our university, our student body, our communities, and the families within our communities. It’s a win-win.
–Jen Proctor, Associate Professor, Journalism and Screen Studies, UM-Dearborn
I usually hate rallies, but LEO rallies rule.
Our rally Friday was, in fact, lit. Elected officials Yousef Rabhi and Michelle Deatrick stopped by. Tenure-track allies and students from RadFun, Students4Justice, and YDSA spoke. Umich student and sprinkler fitters’ union member Justin Villanueva and Fred Klein of the Ann Arbor Education Association gave impassioned speeches. Their presence and vocal support attested to the fact that our allies are truly with us. Our cause is just, our demands are sensible, and they have struck a chord with the broader University of Michigan community. Kirsten Herold, in her remarks to the crowd, duly noted that this is a fight not just for our students, or for us as lecturers, but also for students and lecturers across the nation.
Friday, the part of the fight we brought to the table was an ambitious proposal for a large fund to support lecturers who want specialized inclusive teaching and learning training, as well as lecturers designing community service-based courses. In the context of the events not only of the year since the 2016 election, but also in the last week around the pending discussion about whether we can rent space to Richard Spencer, this proposal is especially important. As we made clear in our public statement, as well as at the rally today, this campus is no place for white supremacy, and part of rooting that out is chipping away at systems that implicitly support it.
The afternoon bargaining session, then, saw presentations by a tenure track professor, LEO members, and even a student, about currently free labor around diversity and inclusion–the kind of work our proposal aims to financially and professionally support in the future. One stunning example is the work of Dominique Butler-Borruat from the RC, a lecturer who has served for 25 years, is now the head of the French Program there, and has established a working relationship with Detroit’s Freedom House, which provides “shelter to victims of persecution seeking asylum in the United States.” Afforded by a 2-credit mini course scaffolding the work, she and her students regularly assist clients with legal documents and other potentially life-saving translation needs. Management was receptive to the presentations and had some questions, and we look forward to continuing these conversations.
Friday’s rally and bargaining were extremely well-attended (we had 70 lecturers and 50 allies throughout the day), requiring building workers to bring in extra chairs twice. This makes an impact on management. And if we want that impact to add up to victory, we need to build on this trend every week. We bargain again this Friday, December 8th, at Palmer Commons. Let’s see how far we can beat that number.
—Shelley Manis and Phil Christman